Home July 2013 Budapest or Bust

Budapest or Bust

No community is perfect.  Orange County certainly has its challenges; however, we tend to compare the perspective of our relatively small community in the context of the global Jewish world.  Jewish communities worldwide face challenges unique to other parts of the world, such as religious persecution and smaller populations, and many have not developed the organizational structure that our OC community is privileged to enjoy.  The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is a comprehensive body designed to address the global Jewish community’s needs and strengthen Jewish continuity.  On May 5 to 7, the 14th Plenary Assembly of the World Jewish Congress met in Budapest, Hungary.
Typically, WJC meets in Israel, but Hungary’s Jewish community is facing rampant Anti-Semitism.  The Jobbik Party comprises approximately 20 percent of the political demographic of Hungary.  This vocally anti-Jewish party fears that the Jewish population is attempting to purchase Hungary’s businesses and take control over Hungary’s economy.  Jobbik rhetoric incites hate and threatens the safety of Jewish Hungarians.  Because of this actively anti-Jewish group, the WJC chose to bring the congressional body to Hungary.  The decision to bring the congress to Hungary in the face of anti-Semitism brought the Jobbik party to the attention of the global Jewish community in addition to demonstrating fearless unity with the Hungarian Jewish community.  The WJC amped up security for the conference to ensure the safety of all parties involved, arming guards at every event and corner of the hotel.
Two of our own community members, Marc Garelick and Adam Miller, were in attendance to represent the OC community.  Vadim Shulman, the chairman of the Euro Asian Jewish Congress (EAJC), has a residence in OC.  He graciously sponsored Garelick and Miller, giving them the opportunity to attend and represent young professionals from OC.  Along with Shulman, Garelick and Miller were able to hear from Viktor Orbán, Hungary’s prime minster, Cardinal Péter Erdö, Germany’s foreign minster, the archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, as well as the current president of the Council of European Bishops.  Many of the discussions were based around neo-Nazi political parties as well as the continuing Middle East conflict.
OC’s representatives took part in the congressional dialogue, introducing OC’s approach to engaging young professionals in Jewish community.  Encouraged by Shulman, Garelick gave two presentations to the EAJC on the Jewish Federation & Family Services’ Young Leadership Division (YLD) model.  Garelick explained that it is a challenge, that “[m]ost countries are having difficulties getting young adults active in the Jewish community and with local temples.  They are hoping to use our models and structure to start similar YLD-type groups in their various countries.”  When speaking with Garelick and Miller, both expressed an immense outpouring of enthusiasm from these other communities in learning more about how we engage young professionals.  They were motivated to take the presentation and create the YLD model in their local communities.
“It is a unique common bond,” stated Miller as he expanded on the idea of Jewish continuity.  “There are common themes around the world that all communities have to address.”
OC has created a unique community that cultivates individual interests and has increased engagement for its residents.  With Garelick and Miller’s presentation, OC has become a model community, paving the way for others to enable more of their residents to become active within their local and global world.  OC’s involvement at WJC is a testament to our Jewish professionals and residents.

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