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.

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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