The General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America is a massive, potent, frenetic, humorous, serious, fun, intellectual, trivial, mercenary, philanthropic and familial potpourri of Judaism and Jewishness.
Virtually every one of the thousands of delegates and assorted others in attendance at this years GA in Denver will agree that theres nothing else like it in the Jewish pantheon of events and activities much like football and baseball can boast of nothing greater or more spectacular than the Super Bowl and the World Series.
The annual gathering, in all its enormity and self-definition as a big tent for Jews, indeed covers virtually the whole crazy patchwork quilt of North American Jewish life.
Cellphone-cradling and Blackberry tapping federation types share the hallways and lobbies with somber Orthodox pitchmen, New Age women rabbis in colorful yarmulkes, tattooed Jewish hip-hop artists, deadline-haunted Israeli journalists, well-attended Fortune 500 philanthropists, earthy Jewish farmers, earnest activists for LBGT Jewish communities and grim-faced guys with butch haircuts who might or might not be handling security.
Its an amazing alloy of people and causes and belief systems all Jewish and in the end, despite its plurality and variety, the GA evinces a certain kind of solid and sensible logic: A bold and unapologetic statement of cohesion and love, for Jewishness and Judaism, and for fellow Jews.
A day spent in the midst of the GA is a busy day, with much gathering to do but with absolutely no shortage of gatherables to find. Following are assorted impressions of such a day.