These are the Americans and Canadians who contribute their money, time, energy, moral support, and love to Israel all year long.
I got to attend their closing session this morning. The real, registered, paying GA delegates numbered 4,579.
Several floors of the convention center were full of booths exhibiting the good things Israeli Jewish society is doing. I filled a free tote bag with free literature, pen, candy, keyring, calendar, and a DVD. I even scored a T-shirt from a favorite organization. And delicious rogelach at coffee break time.
Who says we don't have trick-or-treating here?! ;)
It was my first time to see our government leaders in person. Prof. Stanley Fisher, Governor of the Bank of Israel, spoke about the current challenges to our economy. Opposition Leader Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu said that he would like to "weave an economic peace for the ordinary Palestinian" and to incorporate Egypt and Jordan in economic development of our region.
On the big screen on the stage you see the topic of the second plenary: TIKKUN OLAM.
A central pillar of Judaism, it means "fixing the world," or healing the world, making it a better place. Shari Arison stressed that our mission of tikkun olam must begin with personal transformation, inner repair work.
Foreign Minister Tsipi Livni stressed that the character of Israel must remain a Jewish state and that the nations should accept it as such. My favorite line from her speech: "And a Jewish state is not a monopoly of Jewish rabbis! It is what each and everyone feels inside."