OU ANNOUNCES THAT ENTIRE DELEGATION WILL GO NORTH AS PART OF REVISED POST-WAR PROGRAM, WHEN OU CONVENTION CONVENES IN JERUSALEM AT THANKSGIVING, NOVEMBER 22-26
The war against Hezbollah has come and hopefully gone, but the Orthodox Union’s vigorous response, which began on Day 1, did not end when the rockets stopped falling on the North of Israel. When the OU 2006 Biennial National Convention convenes in Jerusalem Thanksgiving Weekend, the hundreds of people attending from North America will travel as a group to the North and as part of a revised Convention program — in addition to viewing the destruction and meeting with civilians and IDF soldiers — will visit the Bayit, the community centers staffed by the OU in five cities to provide continuing social services for victims of the war.
The Convention will be held from Wednesday, November 22 through Sunday, November 26 at the Renaissance Hotel, with optional tours scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, November 20-21. The trip to the North will be a provided for the entire OU delegation on Wednesday.
“This summer’s developments required the Convention Committee to modify the program to take into account what happened and the OU response,” declared OU President Stephen J. Savitsky. “You cannot really appreciate what the people of the North went through unless you go there to meet them personally and to see the damage. Equally important, though, is to witness the OU’s post-war efforts. The rockets have stopped falling but the trauma continues. So does our work.”
During the war, the Orthodox Union, through the work of its Seymour J. Abrams OU Jerusalem World Center, was deeply involved in relief efforts, sending as many as 700 volunteers to the North to visit many of the bomb shelters. There they entertained children while comforting the adults and bringing them food and essential items they were unable to obtain. The OU also sent packages to soldiers filled with both necessities and treats. These efforts were financed by the Israel Emergency Fund, which the OU established following the outbreak of the war and which is contributing to the rebuilding efforts in the North.
Back in Jerusalem, Convention sessions have been scheduled dealing with the war and its aftermath. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzippi Livni are among those invited and are expected to deal with issues of the war in their presentations.
Trips to Haifa, Kiryat Shemona, Nahariya, Maalot, Tzefat, Tiberias and other communities that were targets of Hezbollah rockets and missiles are now on the schedule. Meetings with families will be arranged as well as with IDF soldiers. Condolence calls will be paid on families who lost sons in the war. Throughout, there will be an emphasis on how the OU took action to meet the crisis.
In addition, assuming they are still being held captive at the time, the Convention will deal with the issue of the Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped by both Hezbollah and Hamas and what can be done to obtain their release. “We must never forget our POW’s and their fate will always be on our minds,” Mr. Savitsky said.
“Given this program, we expect a large turnout of North American Jews at the Convention,” Mr. Savitsky declared, adding that rabbis of OU synagogues are being called upon to organize missions to Israel from their congregations to coincide with the Convention and to be part of the proceedings.
The Convention will deal with a variety of other issues as well. The Thursday and Friday sessions will consider aliyah; Israel’s security; the rights of Diaspora Jews in determining Israel’s future; anti-Semitism in academia; Jewish demographics; the lessons of Gush Katif; and other significant topics. Thanksgiving will be celebrated with a turkey dinner and a journalists’ roundtable.
The always unforgettable Convention Shabbat will have special seminars and shiurim, to be followed by the adoption of OU resolutions Saturday night. Delegates from OU synagogues have been given an increased role in this Convention to debate and vote on the policies which will guide the OU for the next two years. Saturday night will also feature a reunion of alumni of the OU’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth who have made aliyah to Israel or who are studying there now.
A land package of $699 has been arranged for participants, which includes hotel, meals and tours.
For further information, go to www.ou.org/conferences/convention/2006
or call 212-613-8198 or 212-613-8188.