May 28, 2009

Highlights from the JDC Ambassadors Circle Global Symposium Part I

On May 19 JDC hosted the second JDC Ambassadors Circle Global Symposium. The event brought together over 60 people from all over the world to learn about JDC’s global mission of rescue, relief and renewal of Jewish communities in Israel and around the world.

Focusing on 'Hope and Crisis in the Jewish World', top professional staff shared their own personal stories of their work, giving participants insight into JDC that is shared all too infrequently.

Welcome and Briefing from Steve Schwager, CEO

Steven Price, Chair of the JDC Ambassadors Circle welcomes everyone at the opening of the Global Symposium.

Steve Schwager, CEO of JDC briefs everyone on the latest developments in the JDC world, including an update on the status of world hotspots and the effect of the current economic situation on JDC programs.

Innovating Israel
For 95 years, JDC has been on the ground in Israel, creating innovative approaches to helping the country’s most vulnerable people.

Gideon Herscher, Director of Field Relations tells the story of JDC in Israel, the history, the methodology and the people we help.

Gideon talks about JDC's beginnings. On the screen beside him is the telegram sent on August 31, 1914 by Henry Morgenthau, US Ambassador to Turkey to leaders of the Jewish community in New York. The telegram tells of the terrible conditions facing Jews living in (then) Palestine during World War I and the need for funds to be sent immediately to end starvation. This telegram was the initial step to the formation of JDC.

JDC in War and Conflict
A panel discussion on how JDC has responded in times of war and crisis, acting quickly to bring people to safety and helping with the recovery in the aftermath.

Amir Shaviv, Assistant Executive Vice President for Special Operations gives an overview of how JDC functions during war and conflict situations, in rescue operations and recovery and relief efforts.

Yechiel Bar-Chaim, Program Director for the Czech Republic, Algeria and Tunisia speaks about coordinating emergency rescue and relief operations in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in the early 1990s.

Ami Bergman, now Country Director for Turkey and Egypt, played a prominent role in the planning and implementation of Operation Solomon in 1991, the largest human airlift in history which brought over 14,000 Ethiopian Jews and to Israel during a 36 hour period. Ami shares the story of this exciting and miraculous operation with participants.

During Operation Cast Lead in January, 2009 in the southern conflict region of Israel, JDC worked in partnership with the Israeli government and local municipalities ensure the safety and long-term well-being of the region's elderly, children and disabled residents. Using lessons learned during the Second Lebanon War, JDC created a series of programs to help these populations cope with the stress and trauma. Here Gideon Herscher demonstrates how Hibuki (Huggy Puppy in Hebrew) helps children articulate their fears and anxieties by transferring those feelings on the doll.

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