Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

UJC Washington15: Making It Matter

Posted by Oyster on March 18, 2008

What ‘it’ is was a mystery for most of the participants. Perhaps they meant the limited time that we had in Washington?

My camera was not feeling well for much of the time, so I’ll have to wait to get some shots from JB of SVYAD. We even got a shot of the French camera guy for Al Jazeera, English! I made a point of getting in front of his ginormous video lens as much as possible, wishing his viewers a hearty “Salaam Waleikum!” :-p

So what is this convention? Well, it turns out that the UJC makes a point of gathering young adult Jews from all around the country for the purpose of spawning engaging young leaders & energizing them to go back to their communities with new ideas. The number relates to the number of times that they have held it at a particular location. So, for example, it has been held at Washington, DC, 15 times, hence, their nifty URL.

The coolest program for me was the “New Voices, New Media”, which I gravitated to naturally. I saw Tiffany Shlain there, and had to out her as an Oy Bay Area native. Thank goodness, I was spared seeing “The Tribe” for the upteenth time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent film, one that I actually own. And Adam Hootnik, that I saw earlier at the Jewlicious Festival was there, and screened an extended clip from “Unsettled”, his amazingly well done (both in terms of content & filming) documentary on the disengagement from Gaza. I own that one too. Feel free to come over to my house any time for Jewy Film Night.

I had a lot of gripes about the conference:

  • had a meat-market feel at times
  • very little mixing between individual Federation’s delegates
  • very top-down programming (i.e., we’re here to educate you and tell you what to do, but little chance for us to have a voice)
  • Little chance to network or interact with peers based on common interest, or based on region.
  • Hotel wasn’t accomodating (they broke up the California caucus party, and then tried to fine us $500 for the excellent booze that we brought!)

But I’ll try to stop bitching. It was nice & interesting to meet with Congressman Mike Honda’s staff on Capitol Hill. It was a bit disorganized at our Senatorial visit, where Sen. Boxer’s staff was a no-show, and we had to meet with Sen. Feinstein’s point-man on foreign affairs out in a lobby. I was the Hill visit chair, and organized our delegation to talk about Medicaid, Autism, policy on Israel, policy on Iran, and Environmental / Energy issues.

Personally, I enjoyed being able to meet up with my great friends Melissa, Josh, & Rae (who was busy at the Code Pink protests) on Sunday, and I re-connected with my high school friend Yonatan.

And despite my kvetchin’, I did manage to meet some genuinely interesting people who were there for more than “the show” (as me & JO called it).

It’s a mixed bag whether I’d go again. Tel Aviv 2 is coming up next, me’thinks.


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