• Jodi Samuels

I Have A Dream



I was lucky enough to attend the GA – The General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America. This year’s conference was in Jerusalem and provided the perfect opportunity to combine a business trip to visit my jdeal team with some inspiration for the work I do in the community.


I have recently attended many big Jewish conferences including AIPAC and the Shimon Peres’s Presidential Conference. These conferences provide great networking opportunities and many classes and forums led by top scholars, speakers and politicians. Overall I get a buzz and a boost. After 13 years of 30 hrs plus a week volunteering I know that I appreciate a recharge.


The GA is attended by a very broad audience both in age and religious level. Everyone is united in the fact that they care about the Jewish people and Israel. I love hearing various view points and I often attend sessions that represent new or different views to myself. I am passionate about Jewish Continuity and I believe that I need to understand all Jews, not just those that look and act like me.


There was, predictably, lots of discussion about the Pew Survey that has a very dismal outlook on the future of Jews in America against the backdrop of a 76% inter-marriage rate. The survey concludes that the Jewish Day Schools and Jewish camps are the best investment in stemming this tide. However as Jews we are also challenged financially by Jewish school tuition and camp fees, this approach is becoming unaffordable for so many. So the big question is how do we wake up the Jewish People?


I have spent many hours wondering if I had all the money in the world what I would do. 350,000 young people have been sent to Israel on Birthright and while then program has certainly had an impact, the Pew Study suggests that we need more big, bold ideas.


Rabbi Jonathan Sacks suggested that we have to have the courage to dream. Like the dream to return to our homeland we can dream that Judaism becomes relevant to the disenfranchised masses that we are losing at an alarming rate.


And I do dream….and think and wish, but it sometimes feels like such a daunting task against the backdrop of a very depressing reality. And then I remind myself that nothing is more important than the continuity of the Jewish people and we dare not give in to despair or accept defeat. The Torah speaks of Adam as Ha Adam – The man. We learn from this that each person counts – each of us as a unique task in this world. We all need to do our part – to redouble our efforts and find new and innovative ways of reaching out to our brothers and sisters. We all need to believe in that dream……


Originally published: November 14, 2012

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