HIAS at TribeFest

Posted by Liza Lieberman on Tue, Apr 03, 2012 at 17:26 pm

HIAS was proud to partner with the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) in TribeFest 2012, which convened more than 1,500 young Jews (ages 22-45) from around North America for a three day thought-provoking, high-energy event in Las Vegas from March 25-27. With main stage speakers, break out workshops, and live entertainment events, the program covered issues related to politics, philanthropy, business, entertainment, and culture in the Jewish world.

Speakers ranged from celebrities like Rachel Dratch of Saturday Night Live and best-selling author A.J. Jacobs to social activists such as Brooke Goldstein, a human rights attorney, author and award-winning filmmaker. One of the most exciting keynote speakers was Lenny Krayzelberg, a former HIAS client whose family was assisted in their migration from the former Soviet Union. As he addressed thousands of young Jews from the main stage, he recognized HIAS as a TribeFest partner and praised the organization for helping his family with transportation and financial support in their migration from Odessa, Ukraine to Los Angeles, California. He spoke about the opportunities he had in the U.S. as opposed to those in the FSU, both in terms of sports and Judaism. Applause erupted from the crowd when Lenny discussed “one of the proudest moments of his life” – carrying the American flag after he won his first Olympic medal.

Most notably, HIAS was prominently featured in a breakout session entitled “Paths to Involvement: How Jews Respond to Crisis.” To frame the discussion, the moderator told a personal story about her grandparents’ assistance by HIAS after they survived the Holocaust – this set the tone for a unique and thoughtful breakout session which focused on Jewish organizations doing non-sectarian work based on Jewish values. The panel was made up of IsraAID’s Zaki Djemal, JFNA’s Karen Edell Yoskowitz, Shaun Goldstone of the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and Anne Mwangi-Wambugu, Director of the HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya (HRTK). In a workshop attended by nearly 30 young Jewish leaders from around the country, Ms. Mwangi-Wambugu discussed how HIAS’ global non-sectarian work serves some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees. In her presentation, she discussed HIAS’ history of helping over 4.5 million Jews and non-Jews over the past 130 years, HIAS' response to vulnerable populations in Africa and the creation of the HIAS Refugee Trust of Kenya, the breadth of HIAS' work in East Africa (legal assistance, identification of at-risk refugees who might be eligible for resettlement, social work and psychosocial assistance), and profiles of refugees served by HRTK including survivors of torture and violence, victims of sexual or gender-based violence, women at risk, and unaccompanied or separated minors.

TribeFest 2012 offered an exciting, high-energy forum for young Jews around the country to connect with each other and with local, national, and international organizations. As we continue to build the HIAS Young Leaders network, we look forward to further engaging young Jews in our unique national community of young professionals and graduate students who generate new and creative ways to continue HIAS' longstanding mission of rescue, resettlement, and reunification of Jewish and other immigrants.

Comments (0)