I was feeling oh-so-snarky yesterday, which resulted in this piece. I did finish up with a promise that I would share something more positive today. I mean to keep that promise, at least in part.

I hit the stalls I hadn’t yet covered on my first day and noticed that where the staff approached me politely with offers to tell me about their work, I tended to respond with greater interest than to those who seemed almost afraid to approach me. I say that in the interest of motivating the more timid staff members for next time, though being somewhat an introvert, I totally sympathize. It is, however, important to make that psychological connection to passersby.

That was definitely the case at Keren Rashi, where Shira Ozery didn’t waste any time in offering me a quick and dirty explanation of this foundation’s goal as one of closing the education gap. When I told Shira my main focus is in writing about education as the communications writer at Kars4Kids, she wasted no time in piling pamphlets into my arms, subsequently topping the tower of texts with her business card and a wooden dreidel. I will definitely be contacting her for more information and her cheery manner stays with me long after our abbreviated encounter.

Random encounter with Golda Meir impersonator (photo credit: Varda Epstein)

Random encounter with Golda Meir impersonator (photo credit: Varda Epstein)

The same simple fact about outreach was also much in evidence at the Kishorit stall. Kishorit bills itself as “a caring community of adults with special needs.” A young man approached to tell me about Kishorit and it was clear that Kishorit is his home. He was so personable that I was quite willing to let him tell me about his community in his own halting words, however long it took in the telling. Eventually, he made an introduction between me and the staff members on site.

About Kishorit: many of my readers are seeking information on facilities for adults with special needs. Unfortunately, Kishorit is full up. They are seeking $1 million in order to expand their facilities. The staff, however, responded positively to my suggestion that I would be in touch so that they might offer suggestions of other such facilities with available space. I was glad to have made these contacts and feel confident this will yield important fruit for my readers.

Right there was some darned powerful value in having attended the GA conference.  The networking was simply outstanding.


The author with her son, Natan Epstein, posing with The Dream Doctor Project clown noses at the Nefesh B’Nefesh stall. We each got a groovy fridge magnet out of the deal. (photo credit: courtesy Natan Epstein)


As I was milling around, I ran into three clowns. Medical clowns, that is. They were handing out red clown noses and were really quite charming—especially Avital, who took me by the hand and led me to her org’s stall.

This was important because The Dream Doctor Project stall was not, unfortunately, situated on prime conference hall real estate. Avital told me about the project as we wended our way through the crowds and then personally delivered me into the hands of the staff members manning the stall, which was somewhere way deep in the bowels of the hall. I traded cards and discussed business with the staff (this is so something I want to write about) and I got a second clown nose. As Avital left me she said I had to put on the clown nose and wear it for at least one minute.

Random encounter with Herzl and Ben Gurion impersonators (photo courtesy Varda Epstein)

Random encounter with Herzl and Ben Gurion impersonators (photo courtesy Varda Epstein)

I acceded to her request, which was only slightly embarrassing (hey, I’m nothing if not a good sport), not in small part due to the fact that right at that moment I ran into four of my colleagues. I sat down to schmooze with them for a bit and as we were talking, a woman with a butch haircut and tailored gray clothing that rather resembled prison issue, approached us, “Would you like to engage with us in sacred song?”

We all kind of looked at each other in confusion, my colleagues and I. We were all Orthodox married women with covered hair who live in Israel. What did we know from sacred singing? This was clearly an American innovation.

I tentatively ventured a question, hoping for a way out of this sticky situation for which my mother had never prepared me. “Is this mixed gender?”

“Yes,” she said. “But it’s mostly just lip-synching. You’d only appear together on film.”

“No, thank you,” said I, politely.

She offered me a bright smile and said, “That’s okay.”

“Yes. I know,” said I, offering her a bright and vacant smile of my own in return

Easier For Canadians

I was getting the hang of this. But, yeah: probably easier for Canadians.

More to come in this space. There is no way to pack the entire GA experience into two or even three blogs. Stay tuned.