American Jewish Committee has canceled its annual global forum due to the coronavirus pandemic, announced the organization on Thursday.

It was scheduled to be held in Berlin from June 14-17.

“It was a tough call to make—the Global Forum is an incredibly important event for AJC, especially this year as we looked forward to marking 75 years since the end of World War II in Berlin,” said AJC CEO David Harris in a statement.

“But prioritizing the health and safety of AJC staff, lay leaders, conference speakers, registrants, vendors and others is more important than wishful thinking on how the world will look in a few months,” he continued. “Hence, our painful but necessary decision to cancel the 2020 Global Forum.”

Convening the event in Berlin would have marked the first time Jewish advocacy group’s signature annual event took place in Europe, and only the second time outside the United States since AJC’s founding in 1906.

More than 2,000 attendees plus speakers were registered for the sold-out, four-day event, AJC spokesperson Kenneth Bandler told JNS.

The 2018 AJC Global Forum was held in Jerusalem, on Israel’s 70th birthday, while the one the following year was held in Washington, D.C.

The AJC Global Forum brings together thousands of Jewish advocates from dozens of countries to advance the well-being of the Jewish community and strengthen democratic values.

The original decision to convene the AJC Global Forum in Berlin, announced last June and immediately praised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, had garnered much anticipation among political and civil society leaders, the diplomatic community and the media. The impressive list of confirmed speakers for the conference included chancellors, prime ministers, foreign ministers and other German, European and global leaders.

It was expected to be the largest gathering by a global Jewish advocacy organization in modern German history.

The AJC-Germany relationship will be chronicled in an upcoming publication. A high point was the establishment in 1998 of AJC Berlin—the first permanent office of an American Jewish organization in what is today Germany’s capital.

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