Ilana Frankel
Photo: Diana Zinkler
GA 2008 concludes: Let's do things together
Participant at North American Jewish conference says GA was a great success, lauds decision to hold it in Israel. 'I believe this is the place for Jews to live in'

This year's UJC General Assembly, which cocnluded on Wednesday, was a great success, said 21-year-old Ilana Frankel who attended the conference.


Frankel, a student from Maryland who is in Israel for a year of studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, plans to return to the US to complete her degree in political science and Jewish studies, and then come back to Israel. Why? "Just because here I can be who I am, eat kosher, live my beliefs, simply be a Jew," she explained.


In the GA Frankel represented Hillel, a foundation for Jewish campus life, and had a wonderful time. "The mixture between culture, sessions, discussions and speeches by the major politicians is just great," she said.

Visitors at convention center


But what was, in her opinion, the most touching moment in the four days of the GA? "The speech by Benjamin Netanyahu. I know him through my father and I was always fond of him. To see him here, live, was just amazing."


In his address, Netanyahu spoke of his vision of "economic peace", a peace made possible by supporting and strengthening the Palestinian economy. Frankel said she felt inspired by the speech.


"You know, I agree with him. If we support the Palestineans they might not hate us anymore."

Netanyahu speaks at GA (Photos: Diana Zinkler)


In her eyes, Jerusalem was just the right place for holding the GA. "It shows that we support Israel as a state. I believe this the place for Jews to live in, this is the future of the Jewish people, this is our homeland."


Hope, not fear

Outside the conference halls at the Jerusalem Convention Center organizations from Israel, the United States and Canada set up booths and did their best to draw visitors and create interest. In one of those booths stood Rivka Feuchtwanger from Yad Sarah, an organization that supports disabled and old people and enables them to live their everyday lives in their normal surrounding.


"For our work we need volunteers and sponsors", Feuchtwanger said. She did not get a chance to listen to many speakers during the conference, but she did managed to hear Netanyahu's and Tzipi Livni's speeches on Wednesday.


"I like Tzipi Livni", Feuchtwanger said, "but I am on the other side of the political map. I am a Zionist." Being a Zionist, Feuchtwanger made aliyah to Israel from Switzerland to Israel in 1974. "But I like Livni's message. Let's do things together. This is precisely the message of Yad Sarah."


Feuchtwanger could not say whether she would attend the next GA in Washington D.C. in 2009, But Ilana Frankel was certain she would. "I will be there," she stated, and concluded by quoting Hillel International Board of Governors Chairman Edgar M. Bronfman: “I feel hope, not fear.”


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