After a three-year, in-person hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1,200 Jewish communal leaders are gathering this week in Chicago for The Jewish Federations of North America’s annual General Assembly (GA). During the three-day program, which began on Sunday, community leaders will discuss critical issues facing North American Jewry.

“We are living in complex times when anti-Semitic incidents are increasing at an alarming rate, anti-Israel rhetoric is rampant, millions of people are displaced by war and our communities are overwhelmed by a mental-health crisis,” said Jewish Federations of North America board chair Julie Platt. The General Assembly provides a venue for “our communal leaders to come together to tackle these complex challenges, discuss practical steps towards building flourishing Jewish communities and return to our communities invigorated to implement these strategies.”

This year’s GA is focused on responses to geopolitical challenges, such as the situations in Ukraine and Russia, as well as challenges and opportunities towards building flourishing Jewish communities. Security issues, concerns about the mental health and wellbeing of younger members of the Jewish community and the role of religion in American Jewish life also among the topics on the agenda.

Guest speakers at this year’s GA include Israeli President Isaac Herzog, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Amy Gutmann, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ambassador Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, Israeli actor Michael Aloni and philosopher and French author Bernard-Henri Levy.

First held 90 years ago, the GA brings together Jewish leaders of diverse backgrounds in a space that fosters productive dialogue and debate. This year’s event includes a special reception to mark the 60th anniversary of National Young Leadership Cabinet and the 50th anniversary of Lions of Judah, which represent models of leadership for the Jewish world.

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