Special Recognition to IPA’s Howie Beigelman/ Hightlights of the Upcoming OU National Convention

Special recognition goes to IPA Deputy Director Howie Beigelman for being named to the JTA 100 Most Influential Jewish Twitter Users 2010. At #42, Howie stands among some of the most influential bloggers, writers and activists in the Jewish world today. You can see the full list here.

The past few weeks, I have been reminding you about The Orthodox Union National Convention, January 14-16, 2011 at The Hilton at Woodcliff Lake, NJ. Now that the event is imminent, I would like to tell you in greater depth about some of the programming. Please see below to learn about our topical plenary sessions and more.

Some Hightlights of the Upcoming OU National Convention

The Convention begins with a “Leadership Shabbat” for synagogue rabbis, presidents, delegates and their families, during which Rav Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, and I will offer shiurim. Motzoei Shabbos will be our opening session, “The Cost of Jewish Living,” which, appropriately, is being offered free of any admission fee.

The cost of Jewish living is not limited to tuition, although that’s a huge part of it. There are also housing costs to live within walking distance of an Orthodox shul, special food costs, the cost of making a simcha, and the cost of supporting our institutions. Radio host Nachum Segal moderates this topic as it is addressed by a panel consisting of Robert P. Aronson, President of the Birthright Israel Foundation and The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life,Margy Ruth Davis, Executive Vice President of Perry Davis Associates, William E. Rapfogel, CEO of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, and NYC Councilman David Greenfield.

Sunday is our One-Day Conference on Jewish Life, featuring over 25 sessions on three tracks: Torah life, community life and synagogue life. Space does not allow me to detail all of the dynamic speakers and their topics (which can be found online here), but I would like to take the opportunity just to tell you about the exciting plenaries that are scheduled.

Rabbi Weinreb will be speaking on “The Mesorah,” addressing various questions and challenges such as, “Can our mesorah change and, if so, how?”

I will be moderating a panel on “The Orthodox Role in the Jewish Community of Tomorrow,” which will discuss the future of the Orthodox segment in general as well as in relation to the greater Jewish population. Where are we heading and what does it mean for us? Panelists include Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike, Dean of Lander College for Women, Rabbi Steven Burg, International Director of NCSY, Rabbi Efrem Goldberg, Senior Rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue, Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought at Yeshiva University, and Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of Jewish Federations of North America.

There will also be a very special (and important!) session on US-Israel Relations sponsored by The OU’s Institute for Public Affairs and chaired by IPA director Nathan Diament. This panel features Bret Stephens, deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal editorial page, andDavid Makovsky, Director of The Washington Institute’s Project on the Middle East Peace Process.

We eagerly anticipate this event, which, as you can see, has much to recommend it. I hope that all of you, as well as members of your shuls and your communities, will be able to join us.