Young Montrealers inspired at General Assembly

Corey Omer and Cassie Levy

Thirteen student leaders from Montreal campuses attended the General Assembly (GA)  in New Orleans. The largest Jewish communal gathering in all of North America, the annual conference brings together volunteers, professionals, and political leaders to discuss issues of concern to the Jewish world and to perform mitzvot to help the host community. Federation CJA was excited to offer scholarships to enable future leaders to experience this event.

Caroline Levine, an executive member of Hillel at McGill University said, “Attending the GA was an incredible experience. I had the opportunity to network and form relationships with people from my own community as well as other communities. In addition, I was able to give back to the New Orleans community by spending a day planting trees which left me feeling like I truly made a mark on the city itself. My time in New Orleans was something that I will never forget.”

The delegates had the opportunity to volunteer to improve the city that is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, which struck five years ago. Like Caroline, they could plant trees or help clean up some of the hardest hit neighbourhoods or pack kits of essential items for people who continue to live in abandoned and unsafe houses.

“The most impressive things for me were participating in the mitzvah day and being able to meet with so many incredible people, that I wouldn’t meet under any other circumstances,” said Nini Halimi, President of Hillel at the Universite de Montreal. Beyond that, she had a true epiphany about her Jewish identity, “I got to the GA with 1000 questions about my identity and my community. I came away with some answers, but also 1000 new questions. But isn’t that what’s so exciting about Judaism?”

The General Assembly is an important venue for fostering Jewish identity. David Adelman, a Hillel Concordia executive committee member, exclaimed, “The Jewish community in North America is changing and we require young, inspiring leaders to make a difference in our community. I look forward to attend next year in Denver and bring more youth.”

Federation CJA is pleased to have played a role in helping youth in our community to connect with this important experience as a means of enhancing their sense of Jewish identity.