By Stephanie Block
It’s the 80th GA! But it’s my first. Go figure?
I’m sitting in an orientation for first timers. National GA Chair Judy Silverman says that her first GA was in Dallas in 1978. The speaker was Golda Meir.
Sitting next to me is a chap from London, and I walked over to the Sheraton with Israeli Ambassador Daniel Carmon, the new head of MASHAV. Not only is it international up in here, but it’s multi-generational. There are sessions for baby boomers and there are adorable reps from Jewish fraternities in the Exhibit Hall. Judy tells the room about the Matisyahu concert tonight. She adds, “It’s rap, so it’s for 25-35 year olds.”
As of 1 p.m. on Sunday) two hours before the official opening plenary, there were already 3,000 Tweets with our official hashtag #JFNAGA. Travelling Tweets were filled with people kvelling over GA luminaries on their planes to Denver. A NYC Tweeter said the GA started when she got to the airport. @shainaniganss slyly surmised that we’re all members of the mile high club now…because we’re all in the Mile-High city! What were you thinking??
The streets of Denver may run blue and white this weekend, but it’s also crazy green here. Which is why, for the first time ever, the GA did not do a full printed schedule. They are only printing up-to-date daily schedules, and yes, there’s an app for that! It’s a download must – a very powerful app with speaker bios and local info. You can make interesting sessions your favorites, and the app will create a personal schedule for you. Yay technology!
Denver also boasts the most volunteers ever in any host city. Tweets abound about their welcoming warmth and helpfulness.
Now you must be wondering about schwag. Rabbinic scholar in residence Elie Kaunfer gave us all copies of his book in our super fab totes: “Empowered Judaism”. He will be speaking at all plenaries, setting a course of study that will build in each speech. And there are buttons. Jars of all kinds of buttons to add to your lanyard. I’m thinking if I pass by a TGI Friday’s, they’ll yell at me for being late for my shift.
Back at orientation, Judy demonstrates the app on her iPad. Then she tells us that this will be an experience of a lifetime. I’m ready! Hineni! I’m here!
Stephanie is an award-winning writer and editor and the go-to social media consultant for Bay Area women's nonprofits. She successfully completed the Women Moving Millions Donor Institute and is a champion of the women's funding movement. When she isn't envisioning groundbreaking outreach movements, she has for two years applied her love of people and networking skills to chairing Spark's Black & Pink Ball, a gala boasting almost 1000 young professionals. Stephanie is also an avid traveler, having visited over fifty countries and numerous international projects focused on women. Stephanie is proud to serve on the Board of Directors for SparkSF.org, the Jewish Federations of North America's National Young Leadership Cabinet, the Steering Committee for the UN 5th World Conference on Women, and the United States National Committee for UN Women.