Rabbi Sacks' Message Resonates at GA

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Rabbi Sacks' Message Resonates with Hoffman, Gross, Libman

Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News.

Jewish Federation of Cleveland Board Chair Gary L. Gross, left, and President Stephen H. Hoffman attend the opening plenary of the JFNA GA Nov. 13 in Washington.

By Bob Jacob

WASHINGTON – For Stephen H. Hoffman, president of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, and Gary Gross, the board chair of the Federation, the takeaways from Day 1 of the 2016 Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly were about the same.

Dozens of speakers and guests took the stage in front of more than 2,000 people in The Washington Hilton International Ballroom as the three-day event aimed at strengthening federations around the country began. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, was one of the keynote speakers.

“Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks hit it right on the head,” said Hoffman, a veteran of GA’s. “We’ve got to be unified to face the new world that we’re entering, both abroad and in our own country.”

Gross, a Shaker Heights resident who is in the first of a three-year term as board chair, said, “I was impressed with the emphasis on engaging in a Jewish journey. The chairs of this GA talked about how they started in one place and throughout their life, they went on a Jewish journey. The message they gave and the message that came from Rabbi Sacks as well was we should all be proud to be Jewish, engage in that journey. The co-chairs talked about how they studied through the years and I think these are good messages for all of us.”

Gross, who’s attending his fourth GA but first in years, said, “I was impressed with the opening plenary today. I felt it was different from the kinds I’ve seen in the past. There was greater emphasis about the Jewish journey and being proud of being Jewish and sticking together. That was something that Rabbi Sacks talked about, that in the face of trouble around the world, the Jews are stronger no matter what, if we stick together. It’s something I believe in strongly, so I was glad to hear it.”

Sacks also was a keynote speaker at last year’s GA.

“If we see anti-Semitism in the world, let us fight it together,” he said. “When Jews stand together, no force anywhere can ever prevail against us. Let each of us undertake our Jewish journey.”

Keith Libman of Moreland Hills also was impressed with the opening plenary.

“I thought it was a wonderful way to get the GA and all of our Jewish journeys started off,” he said. “Rabbi Sacks was as inspiring as always, and if the rest of the GA can live up to the expectations set by the opening plenary, we’re in for a great few days.”

Lbiman said that Sacks was more inspiring this year.

“I think he’s got more reasons with what’s going on in the world to incite a call to action,” Libman said.

Day 2 highlights on Nov. 14 include Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, speaking during the afternoon plenary.

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