Nov 2, 2007 — New York, NY, Nov. 2 — For the first time in many years the General Assembly (GA) of the United Jewish Communities (UJC) will feature a scholar-in-residence – YU’s very own Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter. This year the GA, the largest annual gathering of Jewish leadership in the world, will be in the capital of country music. It will take place Nov. 11-13 at Nashville’s Gaylord Opryland Hotel Resort and Convention Center. Rabbi Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and Senior Scholar at Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future, will provide delegates with provocative insights into the Jewish communal future.
“It’s more than ten years since we’ve had a scholar-in-residence,” said Gail Reiss, senior vice president of development and major events at UJC. “The UJC and Yeshiva University share a mission, One People, One Destiny and both are value-driven. We believe that when we work together we can realize our mission,” said Reiss. “As scholar-in-residence at the GA, Rabbi Schacter will set the stage at the opening plenary emphasizing the power of the collective federation system to do good deeds and close the gathering with a call to action.”
Howard Rieger, president and CEO of UJC, was present on a Shabbat when Rabbi Schacter delivered a talk at The Jewish Center where he had served as rabbi for 19 years. Rieger was so overwhelmed by his words that he approached to him to be scholar-in-residence.
“We have come a long way from 1969, almost forty years ago, when a group of young Jewish activists forced their way into the GA of the then Council of Jewish Federations to demand greater investment in Jewish education, to chastise the Jewish establishment for being insufficiently Jewish in its priorities,” said Rabbi Schacter. “Our collective communal priorities have, indeed, shifted to appreciating the importance of insuring ‘Jewish continuity’ through a more significant allocation of the communal dollar in support of day schools and adult Jewish learning. But more work remains to be done to inspire so many more to engage with us in the exciting, powerful drama, beauty and meaningfulness of Jewishness.”
The Center for the Jewish Future is sending a delegation of 26 students to Memphis for Shabbat prior to the opening of the GA. They will represent the largest group of university students in attendance at the GA. The students will host an Oneg Shabbat for teenagers from the Memphis community on Friday night and five Presidential Fellows will take the lead in creating programming for the Oneg.
The group will attend services at Baron Hirsch Synagogue and will be hosted for lunch at the home of Rabbi Gil and Melissa Perl. Rabbi Gil was the Associate Head of School at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and is now dean of Margolin Hebrew Academy Feinstone Yeshiva of the South. Yonah Bardos, president emeritus of the student-run Medical Ethics Society, will speak about his achievements in organizing conferences on fertility issues and organ donation as a service to the Jewish community.
In addition, 17 students from YU’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work will attend the GA to learn about challenges facing the organized Jewish community and meet Wurzweiler graduates who hold leadership positions in the Jewish community to learn about career choices.
Rabbi Schacter will address the opening plenary at which time he will share his vision of the Jewish future. He will also speak at the National Young Leadership Awards Luncheon, the UJC Board of Trustees meeting and at the Rabbinic Cabinet session as well as at the closing plenary.
“In a word, I would say that today we face a challenge of balance,” Rabbi Schacter said. “We balance family and career, work and play, and engagement with the universal elements of American culture with the unique content of our Jewish commitments. We appreciate the vital importance of the United Jewish Communities to help us contribute to the needs of the greater Jewish community. Although a cliché, there is much truth in the phrase that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Founded in 1886, Yeshiva University brings together the heritage of Western civilization and the ancient traditions of Jewish law and life. More than 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students study at YU’s four New York City campuses: the Wilf Campus, Israel Henry Beren Campus, Brookdale Center, and Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus. YU’s three undergraduate schools –– Yeshiva College, Stern College for Women, and Sy Syms School of Business ––– offer a unique dual program comprised of Jewish studies and liberal arts courses. Its graduate and affiliate schools include Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, and Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. YU is ranked among the nation’s leading academic research institutions.