The Conspiracy

What We Talk About When We Talk About the GA

Clearly, I like to riff on the wisdom of Raymond Carver in my blog posts–but so what? I like repetition. And repetition is just one of the million things I want to talk about after having just gotten back from the General Assembly (of the Jewish Federations of North America) less than 24 hours ago.

I’m still processing–and I think I will be processing for a while–but what’s really stewing in my head right now are ideas surrounding language, repetition, and how we talk about the GA to non-Jews. First, a disclaimer: I “technically” attended the GA with the delegation from Pittsburgh (which was over 40 students strong) but was actually a participant in Hagshama’s Do the Write Thing, a track running throughout the GA on Jewish journalism.

Oh yeah...Bibi was there, too.

My experience was pretty atypical, as compared to the the experiences of say, the 600-plus students that traveled with Hillel. As part of the Hagshama program, I’ll be writing a more formal article for a publication, but here are some impressions:

To explain the “big-deal-ness” of this to non-Jews: just mention that Vice President Biden spoke, and they raise their eyebrows, as if they are impressed, and then squint, saying, “Is he Jewish?”

To stay awake during a session: count the number of times you hear the word “Delegitimization”–you won’t fall asleep, ever.

To be hypocritical: pretend you are an “older” delegate and don’t directly answer any of the questions that students ask during the sessions or workshop.

To make a difference: be a part of the Service Day on Monday afternoon, where delegates of all ages worked to rebuild a small part of the Big Easy.

To get through security: never take off your name badge and decorate it with the supplied pins, so others can quickly tell who or what you represent.

To sound like everyone else: use the following catchphrases–“delegitimization,” “conflict,” “framing,” “giving,” “development,” “social media,” “nolaga,” “Israel advocacy,” “Jewish identity,” “generation,” “future.”

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2 Older Responses to “What We Talk About When We Talk About the GA”

  1. Ben Sales
    November 11, 2010 at 9:44 pm #

    Great post. Fun fact: Gordon Lish, Carver’s editor, was actually the one who came up with the title “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.” Carver wanted to call it something else.


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