[by Tatyana Mischenko]
From November 6-8, a handful of University of Louisville Hillel students were granted the opportunity to attend the General Assembly of Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in Denver, CO. For some students, attending the GA in Denver, was a first but for others it was their second or third time back.
Usually we are excited to attend the General Assembly because of the prominent speakers, the opportunity to surround ourselves with other Jewish American citizens and let’s not forget the excused absence from class. This year, the General Assembly of Jewish Federations was different. Unlike the any other year, there was a clear and dominant shift of focus from the Jewish Federations to the connection and support of our Eretz Israel.
Here is one fact that I can share with you: I am Jewish and I love Israel, the land of my people. Believe it or not, I learned this at the General Assembly. Now let me explain my epiphany because it brings up a serious issue that concerns Jewish Americans.
Ask anyone who went on Birthright their thoughts about Israel. I promise, you’ll regret asking the question because the story time will never end. Our generation has had the opportunity to experience Israel in a way that creates an unbreakable bond to this country. When we return to America, we have such a strong and proud understanding of our Jewish identities.
At the GA, they explained how Jewish Americans can help promote the legitimacy of Israel. Jewish American citizens know that Israel plus Jews equals Homeland. Since we are American citizens, we obviously want both countries to be strong.
The GA session explained that Jewish American voters can help support Israel’s legitimacy by voting for candidates who are pro-Israel, regardless of their political affiliations. This idea is just one example of how Jewish Americans support Israel without having to live there.
Other session topics ranged from how the media attacks Israel for human right issues to Jewish social media sites.
This year, the experience has humbled all of the Hillel students. We thank everyone who provided this opportunity for us. Our generation understands how important it is to sustain our roots, so our children and their children can develop the same connection and support for our Eretz Israel.
Editor’s note: In addition to Tatyana Mischenko, Hillel students Keith Callen, Dan Gomby, Josh Goodman, Margaret Hamilton, Bailey Haskell, Adit Herscovic, Cullen Kuntz, Tiffany Lesher, Barry Morduchaev, Gariy Ochreter, Brooke Smith and Mark Tallis attended the GA.