"Attending the AJC annual meeting was a both a stimulating education about current Jewish issues and an exceptional opportunity to meet a diverse selection of intelligent and interesting people. It is an experience I will not soon forget and look forward to repeating next year."
Seth A. Schwartz
The AJC Annual meeting is an instrumental way for ACCESS members to learn about AJC, form and reinforce the personal relationships that make the community, and learn about the issues and approaches to making ACCESS work. I am deeply indebted to AJC and its benefactors for subsidizing the ACCESS members' participation, because it allowed me to attend as well as ACCESS members from around the world. Thank you.
Co-Chair, ACCESS NY
This was my second year attending the AJC Annual Meeting –
I can’t say enough how wonderful and valuable an experience the Annual Meeting is. The opportunity to spend quality time listening, learning, interacting, and reflecting – outside of my daily work – on the many issues important to AJC and our partners is an absolutely unique and unforgettable experience.
As a lay leader of ACCESS in Washington, I met a wide variety of delegates, visitors, and fellow ACCESS colleagues, both lay leaders and professional staff, from around the country and across the world. And we didn’t just greet each other, say hello, and go on our way. We stayed and talked and bonded and formed lasting relationships and pledges to collaborate further that we take into the future together.
I absolutely love the private dinners, which are small, intimate, and informal. The featured guests are so generous and kind, and obviously impressed with AJC.
Finally, there were so many moments where in addition to the intellectual stimulation of the sessions, I felt deep emotional pride in and for – the work of AJC, the U.S., and Israel. That is an intangible that is not easily replicated, but one which AJC has created in the Annual Meeting. For that feeling, I am grateful, because I take it with me out into the community and in my future interactions, relationships, and endeavors.
Co-chair, ACCESS DC
I cannot thank the staff and AJC donors enough for making it possible for me to attend this year's AJC annual meeting. I can honestly say that it was one of the most enlightening and inspiring few days I've spent in quite a while. Yes, there were the impressive plenary sessions featuring Hillary Clinton and Ehud Barak. And there were also thoroughly enjoyable, intellectual debates on topics such as how to deal with Iran, our energy security issues, and European antisemitism. These sessions alone would have made my travels to the meeting from the West Coast more than worth my while. However, what made this particular meeting, for me, most special was that lived up to the term "ACCESS" in every way. I was invited on the first night to a small, private dinner at the French Ambassador's residence where we discussed, on a personal level (and in French), issues such as antisemitism in France and France's approach to Iran. On the following day, I attended a small group session with Jason Isaacson, who provided a candid, eye-opening behind-the-scenes briefing on where Israel's and AJC's relations currently stand with the Arab world. Finally, on the final day, I met with Rabbi David Rosen in a very small group setting where he provided a remarkable historical background on the Mormon religion and our current inter-religious outreach efforts with this growing sect. All three of these personal encounters have emphasized to me exactly what it is that makes AJC so special and its mission, so important. Trying to change the world at the religious and political level takes a lot of hard work building personal relationships and negotiating difficult issues behind the scenes and out of the limelight of the galas. Because of your support, I was able to experience these important moments and see a glimpse into how AJC carries out its important mission.
The 2010 AJC annual meeting truly embodied the Global Jewish Advocacy Message. As a first time attendee I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleased to find the speakers to be enlightening, provocative, and inspiring. But the strongest impact was made by the AJC members individually. Everyone was open to introduction and conversation ranging from Jewish Geography to the severity of a nuclear Iran.
The ACCESS members were the highlight of my experience. Meeting like minded young leadership from all over the globe was both exciting and encouraging. Because of these attendees I learned about Jewish experiences and AJC activities in cities ranging from Atlanta, GA to Rome, Italy. I gained insight about anti-semitic occurrences and undertones around the world and how others relate to these. I look forward to continuing these discussions with other ACCESS members both locally and abroad, and at the 2011 Annual Meeting.
Incoming co-chair, ACCESS Detroit
My mother had been a long time member of AJC but I only joined a few months ago and this was my first Annual Meeting. Once I started getting the notices about the 2010 meeting I knew that I wanted to attend. I have always been interested in current events, politics, Israel and Jewish issues, and the proposed line up of speakers and seminars seemed exciting to me. However, because I am looking for work at the moment, I decided that I couldn’t afford to go this year.
Fortunately I got an email from Kim Kamen, Executive Director of the regional office in Dallas, letting me know about a discounted rate and about 5 minutes later decided that the offer was too good to refuse. I signed up for the meeting that day and found a reasonably priced bed at a hostel about 2 blocks from the meeting hotel.
I have to say from the registration on the meeting was even better than my expectations. At the first time attendee reception, David Harris made us feel exceptionally welcome and encouraged us to learn as much as possible. At this reception I also met the first of many very friendly and interesting people from all over the world.
The only downside of the whole meeting was that I wanted to split myself into multiples, so that I could attend and hear more of the speakers and events. I loved pretty much everything at the conference but the highlights for me were the small-group dinner with Barney Frank, the historical overview of the Arab-Israeli conflict with Dr. Bayme, the debate on what to do about Iran, and the speeches at the Saturday night gala by Hillary Clinton, Ehud Barak, and Ambassador Verhagen. Dr. Bayme’s presentation was the most even-handed talk I had ever heard about the historical framework for how things in the region ended up, and I think what I learned will help me participate more knowledgably in discussions about the conflict. It was also nice to hear from Ambassador Verhagen and comforting to know that Israel does have friends in Europe. I could tell that AJC’s patient advocacy in the world does have an effect.
I also had a great time meeting younger people at the ACCESS happy hour the first night. Actually meeting other like-minded Jews of all ages was very energizing for me. Now that I am back in Dallas I am planning on getting more involved with the local AJC office, and helping to grow the ACCESS group locally.
The AJC Annual Meeting was a homerun in every aspect - heavy hitting speakers and panelists; thoughtful content and debate on Israel, the Jewish diaspora, Iran and other policy issues; and a diverse engaged audience in attendance from probably more than 20 countries. As an ACCESS member, I was pleased to see many young leaders in attendance and enjoyed the parallel programming planned specifically for ACCESS including the presentation on censorship by Google's public policy director.
I appreciated being able to lend my opinion during working sessions on AJC's outreach with the Latino community, an issue prioritized at this meeting. The timeliness of this session, given the immigration bill in Arizona, is a reflection of AJC always staying attuned to the public policy issues of the day and making sure the Jewish community has a voice in them.
Mostly, I valued the excellent panel on Obama and Israel with Wendy Sherman, Jackson Diehl and Robert Liber. It showcased AJC as THE venue for thoughtful dialogue on the difficult topic of Arab-Israeli peace with the leading thinkers on this subject. The same can be said of the Brett Stephens and Roger Cohen debate, and of course, the keynote speakers - Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Co-chair, ACCESS New York