OU ANNOUNCES THAT 2008 BIENNIAL NATIONAL CONVENTION, ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED FOR NEW YORK, WILL BE HELD IN JERUSALEM, TO UNDERSCORE CONNECTION TO ISRAEL AND ITS CAPITAL
Having previously decided to hold its 2008 Biennial National Convention in New York rather than Jerusalem, where it presented its 2004 and 2006 meetings to large and enthusiastic gatherings, the Orthodox Union today reversed course and announced that the Thanksgiving Convention will be held in the Israeli capital.
The Convention, including pre-Convention touring and programs, will take place from Sunday, November 23 to Sunday, November 30. Thanksgiving Day is November 27.
The Convention will be the climactic event of a year-long period of OU activities to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary year of the State of Israel.
The OU was scheduled to return its Biennial Convention to Jerusalem in 2010, but the organization's leadership, under the direction of President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, decided to hold the Convention in Jerusalem in 2008 once again.
Their action should be seen in the light of the fact that the OU has been at the forefront of the coalition organized to prevent Jerusalem from being divided in Israel’s talks with the Palestinians. Bringing the Convention to Jerusalem was a logical step, the leaders explained.
“It was clear to us that since New York was chosen as the site of the 2008 Convention, much had happened regarding the possible division of Jerusalem that made it imperative for the OU to be there in great numbers,” Mr. Savitsky and Rabbi Weinreb announced in a statement.
“It was also clear to us that with political leaders speaking openly of concluding an agreement by the end of 2008 which might codify the re-division of Jerusalem, that we had to take this step. We will be there at that time to warn against such an unwise move and to recognize that any territory turned over to the Palestinians, with Gaza as an example, will be territory from which rockets may be fired against Israel.”
“We will reaffirm that Jerusalem was given to the Jewish people by God as its eternal center of spiritual life, and after 2,000 years of exile, we must not give up any part of it in search of a hastily arranged 'peace.' And we will be there as an act of solidarity with the people of Jerusalem as they face uncertain prospects for the status of the city.”
“We therefore invite and encourage all OU-member synagogues to send delegations and as many individuals as possible to join with us at Thanksgiving 2008 in Jerusalem,” Mr. Savitsky and Rabbi Weinreb said.
It has already been confirmed that former Israel Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, now Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, and Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, will play major roles in the Convention.
The OU will release details of the program and will open the Convention for reservations on its website, www.ou.org, and in print, within the next month.