Many of my friends just sit down and write. The words in their blogs just flow and hit The Times of Israel Ops & Blogs feed in a timely manner and instantly become popular.

I take hundreds of photos, go home, and edit them. Then have to think about how to cut so many pictures down for one blog post.

The Jewish Federations of North America GA was a huge event.

Some loved it. Some hated it. Some thought it was a wasted opportunity.

I thought that It was great to see a lot of friends and to attend an event that was all in English here in Jerusalem, Israel.

image prime minister, photo Netanyahu, picture Bibi Netanyahu

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

The largest event was the Opening Plenary with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The security checks to get in were so strict that it was hard to believe. But I did get the best seat in the Jerusalem International Convention Center for his 45-minute speech and best angle for his photo.

image Gabi Ashkenazi

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

This mostly North American crowd was pretty clueless to who was who from the Israeli side of ocean. Gabi Ashkenazi smiled and was impressed that someone noticed him and wanted to take his photo.

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

Israeli politicians did not fare much better in being recognized, but at least Nachman Shai had a few people stop him to talk.

image Muslim girl, photo Arab girl, picture Arab girl

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

Obviously, not everyone attending this conference was from North America or Jewish.

photo Dry Bones, image cartoonist, picture Yaakov Kirschen

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

There were dozens of exhibit booths. My favorite was meeting the real LSW and Dry Bones cartoonist Yaakov Kirschen. I am not plugging his new Hagaddah that comes in a brown paper bag. But I have been a fan of his brilliant wit and talent for, well – forever. To “get it” every time in one drawing is remarkable. I wish I could get even close to his genius.

image clown, picture surprised expression, photo two expecting women

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

There were many actors wandering around dressed as historical characters. But when these two friends turned around to the hospital clown, his reaction and their response and laughter was certainly a favorite moment!

image Rabbi Sacks, picture former chief rabbi, photo Rabbi SAcks

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

Once again, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was a popular speaker. People had to be turned away. His room was hot and so overcrowded that people were sitting on the floor and lining the walls

People were also closed out of other sessions with popular topics and speakers. If you wanted to get in, you had to get there early and grab a seat.

image panel on disabilies,

photo credit::Sharon Altshul

Sadly, the session on disabilities was poorly attended, even though it had a great panel, which included Jay Ruderman, and was led by William Daroff, Senior VP for Public Policy and Director of the Washington office of Federation.

Yair Lapid photo, picture Yair Lapid interview, photo David Horozitz and Yair Lapid.

photo credit: Sharon Altshul

The third Plenary featured Minister of Finance Yair Lapid and David Horovitz of The Times of Israel on stage.

image Michael Mehlman, photo political advisor to Yair Lapid
photo credit: Sharon Altshul


But how many people noticed Lapid’s American political adviser Mark Mehlman sitting in the audience watching closely as they spoke?

At these big events, it is often the meetings in the halls and in private that could prove news worthy one day.

image Yair Lapid and Mark Leibler, photo Mark Leibler.

photo credit; Sharon Altshul

It will be interesting to see what the first meeting of Yair Lapid and Australian tax lawyer Mark Leibler AC, might lead to.

I asked one American rabbinical leader why he was at the GA. He answered, “same as everyone else, looking for money.”

Money, people-hood, Jewish continuity, and now egalitarianism and pluralism have been Federation themes.

The GA is not be held in Israel again for another 5 years.

What next, now that the North American Jewish leaders have gone back to America?

What will they remember of their visit?

How many of their young will still care in five years?