2,000 Jews from across North America traveled to Israel with their Jewish Federations to celebrate Israel’s 75th birthday.
Leaders from the Minneapolis Jewish Federation joined thousands of Federation leaders from across North America at this week’s 2023 General Assembly, hosted in Israel by Jewish Federations of North America. Held every year, The General Assembly is the most consequential gathering of the leadership of the North American Jewish community and brings together Jewish leaders of diverse backgrounds in a space that fosters productive dialogue and debate. This year’s event, which coincided with Israel’s Memorial and Independence Days, focused on celebrating 75 years of connection and partnership between North American Jewry and the Jewish State.
“It was an honor to kick-off our annual General Assembly in Tel Aviv just a few days ahead of Israel’s 75th birthday, together with thousands of Jewish leaders from our Federation system,” said Jewish Federations of North America President & CEO Eric Fingerhut. “For decades, Federations have invested billions of dollars in programs to strengthen Israeli society, to care for the most vulnerable Israelis and to deepen the ties between our two communities, while remaining engaged with Israeli leaders on issues of important to our two communities. Our being in Israel this week is a reflection of our eternal love for Israel that transcends any difference of opinion or political discussion.”
The General Assembly kicked off with an event organized by Jewish Federations of North America, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod, and the World Zionist Organization, that featured an address by President Isaac Herzog.
During the Monday sessions, Participants had the opportunity to engage in dialogue with a variety of Israeli and North America public officials, entrepreneurs and communal leaders on key issues facing the two communities. Speakers included Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, MK Simcha Rothman, MK Oded Forer, MK Idan Roll, Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, Professor Yifat Bitton and many others.
Participants observed the evening of Yom Hazikaron together with thousands of Jewish youth from around the globe at a ceremony hosted by Masa in Latrun. During Yom Hazikaron day, they took part in ceremonies to honor the fallen and engaged in a series of conversations led by Israeli educators. The conference culminated with festive celebrations in honor of Israel’s 75th birthday.
In addition to The General Assembly, fourteen national missions with nearly 2,000 participants representing 74 Federation communities crisscrossed the country, as participants explored Israel’s natural beauty, social diversity, and heritage sites, in addition to Federation funded projects to strengthen Israeli society and support vulnerable Israelis.
James A. Cohen, CEO of Minneapolis Jewish Federation shared, “It has been an honor to be in Israel for her 75th birthday. After our incredibly successful Minneapolis mission, which brought 240 people to Israel to join Jews from all corners of the globe, it was especially meaningful. I will never forget the Masa Yom Hashoah commemoration in Latrun with over 6,000 Jews from all over the world.”
The General Assembly comes at an important moment of ongoing debate within Israel on reforms to the Law of Return, the judicial system and other policies – changes that would have significant implications on North American Jewry. Last month, 30 Federation leaders took part in an extraordinary 24-hour visit to Israel to express their concerns with Israeli leaders on the proposed judicial reforms and to urge for immediate compromise.
For more than 90 years, the Minneapolis Jewish Federation has empowered, engaged, and inspired Jewish community in Minneapolis and around the world. The Federation raises dollars to distribute to more than 40 partner organizations and programs each year, ensuring a vibrant Jewish community for today and tomorrow.