Monday, November 14, 2005

General Assembly: HIllel declares a truce with Habad!

Miriam asks: Any Bloghead readers at the GA? Do report back...

Paul replies: The other, more elderly part of Bloghead was there. It is, as usual, a huge conference, attended by several thousands of delegates, with all the usual razzmatazz. Some random impressions (so far):

1. Outstanding session presented by Hillel this afternoon. Avraham Infeld presented preliminary results of a huge survey Hillel has done of the 'Millenials' - the next wave after 'Generation X'. These findings will be the basis of the Hillel strategy for the next few years - the programme will be presented in 3-4 months time. Basically, the 'M's' are accustomed to choice and individual choice in everything; are very conservative and conforming; very socially and group-conscious;"hypercommunicaters" (email, IM, iPod, text etc etc - simultaneously!). Of the students found (from a VERY wide net cast), no less than 47% had only one Jewish parent (fits with intermarriage estimates). Generally their Jewish outlook (all categories - 28% 'highly committed'; 32% 'middles'; 40% 'low') was very favourable, and they were very happy to be Jewish and to be more Jewish.
2. At the presentation, a Chabad Rabbi was a presenter. Infeld announced that Hillel accepted, welcomed and legitimised Chabad as Campus partners. The Chabadniks present reacted as though the Messiah had come ... er, oops, you all know what I mean!
3. Most impressive was the passion, still, after all these years, of Avraham Infeld for the Jewishness of Jewish young people. He really is remarkable and inspirational. Apparently he is leaving Hillel in the summer and returning to Israel. Who comes next?? [Hillel is a whole discussion and deserves a posting by itself.]
4. Disappointing was the total absence of Toronto from the programme. With one or two exceptions (the Pres of Federation, eg), there were no local speakers, and no local content. That was a pity, as, for example, in the Jewish Education session this morning there was much of local information that would have been very relevant and informative.
5. The food provision was very sparse and the kosher food supply kept running out.
6. Still, for all that, it's impressive and 'hinei mah tov etc'

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