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November 17, 1995 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-11-17

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Subdued Celebration
At CJF General Assembly

This week's federation movement annual meeting was not the expected
centenary party.



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ew of the more than 4,000
American Jewish leaders
who arrived in Boston this
week knew the details of
what would greet them. But they
were certain that Yitzhak Rabin's
assassination would alter the fo-
cus of the unofficial parliament
of North American Jewish lead-
"We've just been turned upside
down," said Frank Strauss, Coun-
cil of Jewish Federations direc-
tor of communications. "It totally
changes all our plans."
The CJF, the umbrella feder-
ation organization, coordinates
the annual event, which enables
Jewish leaders from throughout
the continent and Israel to eval-
uate and set priorities for the
coming year.
Mr. Rabin's murder created
havoc in the final planning stages
for an event that under normal
circumstances is chaotic.
Wednesday evening, a planned
gala to celebrate the 100th an-
niversary of the federation move-
ment has become "quite mooted
in its tone," Mr. Strauss said. No-
bel Laureate Elie Wiesel will ad-
dress the group and television
talk show host Larry King will
moderate a discussion on the im-
pact of Jewish federations.
A Thursday night speech by
Mr. Rabin was replaced with a
tribute to the slain Israeli. That
will include a memorial video
that "is being worked on furious-
ly as we speak," Mr. Strauss said
Tuesday afternoon.
Acting Prime Minister Shimon
Peres was scheduled to speak to
the delegates via a satellite
hookup and expected to pledge
that his government would move
forward with the peace process
and to ask for heightened support
from North American Jewry.
In one of Mr. Rabin's last ad-
dresses to American Jewish lead-
ership, he criticized their
collective lukewarm support of
the peace process and the harsh
disapproval of some groups. He
added that American Jews
should follow his government's
decisions and that they were only
partners with Israel in fund rais-
ing and promoting immigration.
For Israel Weiner, Cleveland's
community shaliach, or Israel
emissary, the proceedings were
bound to be "overcast" with the
Rabin assassination. "But to

Neil Rubin is editor of the
Atlanta Jewish Times.

The late Yitzhak Rabin, who was to have spoken this year, is shown addressing the
1993 G.A. in Montreal.

what extent it will infiltrate in
the day to day business, I can't
tell because the agenda of the
American Jewish community has
not changed in terms of Israel.
But, because of the events in Tel
Aviv, there's an urgency to defin-
ing some aspects of the relation-
With more focus on Israel than
at any recent G.A., Mr. Weiner
hoped that delegates would focus
on the specifics of the changing
Israel-Diaspora relationship.
"The idea is certainly to revis-
it the joint agenda and see what

Acting Prime
Minister Shimon
Peres was
scheduled to speak
via satellite.

our items on the agenda and how
we set the priorities of the agen-
da," he said.
The four institutes at the event
— Israel-Diaspora relations, Jew-
ish identity, financial resource
development, and social policy
and human services — were
opened with the delegates stand-
ing for a moment of silence.
Everyone was asked to sign one
of the two large condolence books
placed in the common area that
housed the more than 60 booths
set up by Judaica vendors and
Jewish organizations.
To that end, delegates found
in their conference kits a copy of
a resolution from last year's G.A.

that "applauds the bold policy of
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin,
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres
and the government of Israel to
achieve peace, security and to
normalize relations between Is-
rael and the Arab world."
As of Tuesday evening, Likud
opposition leader Benjamin Ne-
tanyahu was still scheduled to
speak to the delegates at week's
end. "He's still very much invit-
ed," Mr. Strauss said. If Mr. Ne-
tanyahu did not show, Likud
Knesset Member Dan Meridor
was expected to represent him.
Other Israeli political leaders
scheduled to arrive included Fi-
nance Minister Avraham Shohat
and Deputy Foreign Minister Eli
Many delegates seemed to
share the thoughts of Menachem
Ravivi, director general of the
United Israel Office.
"It's the loss of a leader who
was not just an Israeli leader, but
a Jewish leader," he said. "So it's
something that we all sense and
feel, especially when he was part
and parcel of the past three
G.A.'s." Mr. Rabin had addressed
G.A. delegates in person since his
re-election as prime minister in
1992. ❑

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