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Let's Talk


It was just one week ago that I returned from Israel representing our community at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). It was an incredible honor to spend the week networking and learning from fellow leaders from neighborhoods across the country in my capacity as board president of Keshet.

More than 3,000 people attended the 87th GA, which took place this year in Tel Aviv, Israel, celebrating Israel's 70th birthday. The theme this year was “Let’s Talk.” And that’s exactly what we did. We talked and discussed challenges and ideas with organizations working on similar initiatives as ours in West Rogers Park.

In moderated small group discussions and publicly broadcasted sessions on the plenary stage, more than 1,500 Israelis and more than 1,500 North Americas shared thoughts on how we can make an impact back home. Plenary speakers included Israeli officials like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin. Midway through the three-day event GA participants attended a reception and brief program at the Knesset. The event, hosted by Member of Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (a former prisoner of Zion in the USSR), brought together elected officials from Israel and world Jewish leaders “to talk.”

I landed back at O'hare on Thursday to the news of the horrific murders of 2 black senior citizens at a Kroger in Louisville, Kentucky and then the catastrophe and destruction at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that took 11 lives. I'm still grappling with how to handle and respond to the hate that seems to surround us. But my only source of comfort is the dozens of messages from friends and neighbors that shared words of love and peace.

In recent days, I was thinking that the world would be a better place if everyone would take the time to have more conversations and find ways to build more of a sense of community as we have in our neighborhoods. So, as we said last week at the GA in Israel, "Let's Talk."

Shabbat Shalom, may this weekend bring peace and tranquility to all,

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