This November, seven University of Delaware Hillel student leaders attended the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly (GA) at the National Harbor in Maryland. This annual conference brings together lay leaders, Federation members, Jewish professionals and students. Our day at the GA was filled with phenomenal presentations and breakout sessions led by some of the most influential professionals in the Jewish community.
UD students Alexandra Nau and Alex Zissman were selected as two of 35 students nationwide into the GA Scholars program. This provided them with the opportunity to attend the full length of the conference and the ability to be connected with a mentor from the Jewish Federations of North America Young Leadership Cabinet. Senior Human Services major at University of Delaware Alexandra Nau was ecstatic about the opportunity to attend her third General Assembly. She feels the opportunity to go gives her “amazing insight into what it means to be a Jewish professional”. Nau also enjoys the opportunity to connect with other Hillel leaders from Universities across the country to find out what they are doing on their campuses.
Stacey Shanken, a sophomore Marketing and Management major, feels that the GA gave her “an opportunity to feel connected to the Jewish community as a whole”. She adds, “It was inspiring be surrounded by successful community leaders who wanted to share their wisdom with us.”
This year was my first time attending the GA. I loved the exposure it gave me to different opinions, ideas and backgrounds. It was a one of a kind experience to be able to mingle with other Jewish college students and professionals in the field. Aside from playing Jewish geography, I also had the chance to discuss what it means to be Jewish in today’s society.
As a college student I was most interested in learning about what Jewish organizations are doing to engage our generation. I attended a breakout session called “Doing Jewish in College and Beyond: Effective Ways to Engage Young Jews”. This three featured panelists were: Andrew Borans- Executive Director of Alpha Epsilon Phi Fraternity, Jonathan Kessler- Leadership Development Director of AIPAC and Zvi Drizin- Founder and Director of The Intown Chabad in Dallas, Texas. Their expansive knowledge on working as a Jewish Professional with young people made for a very engaging session.
We also met some of the celebrities of the Jewish world such as, Eric Fingerhut, the CEO and President of Hillel International. We were also thrilled to be able to hear from the Vice President of the United States, Delaware-native Joe Biden. His dynamic address focused on the United States’ unwavering support for the State of Israel, the home to the Jewish people.
A highlight for me was having the opportunity to hang out with the entire Delaware coalition. We are grateful to have been provided with support from UD Hillel and the Jewish Federation of Delaware that enabled us to attend this conference. We cannot wait until JFNAGA 2016!
The UD Hillel group explored the “GA Backyard”, where they learned about Jewish organizations and refueled before their next session. Top: Alex Zissman, Nicole Wasilus, Donna Schwartz, Alexandra Nau, Petra Reyes Bottom: Emily Shapiro, Stacey Shanken Not featured: Maya Goldstein