The ARI Institute was happy to participate in this distinctly multinational forum with 1200 participants from all over the world. Though dealing with an issue concerning the Jews, there were priests, Imams from Europe, and people of all colors and nationalities. With such a diverse audience going through an intensive three-day process while processing the magnitude of the responsibility at hand, there was a tremendous atmosphere of human bonding.
As an organization focused on enhancing human relations at all levels of society, it never ceases to amaze us what can be achieved when people connect above their differences.
Here are some of the most memorable moments of the conference:
– Addressing the attendees on Wednesday, Malcolm Hoenlein – executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations – spoke about the need for unity and how that is the single most important element for combating anti-Semitism.
– Professor Robert S. Wistrich, Head of Hebrew University’s Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of anti-Semitism, spoke about how when the Jewish people truly fulfill their unique historical, metaphysical, and spiritual destiny, they will finally become a light unto the nations.
– The most touching point in the conference was the dinner where Abraham Foxman, of the ADL received a Life Achievement Award from the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. We heard how his nanny risked her life to raise him as her own child when his parents were taken to the concentration camps, and how that part of his life shaped his perspective of the world.
– His speech was followed by award winning filmmaker and social activist Edward James Olmos, who made a passionate appeal for us to come together as human beings, rather than as races, under the theme: We are One: Humanity Must Stand United Against Antisemitism.
As in all conferences, there will be follow ups with emails, telephone calls and smaller scale meetings. But nothing can replace the feeling of so many dedicated people gathering in one place to overcome a great challenge and achieve a common goal together.
Video playlist from the 2015 GFCA conference
Images from the 5th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism