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Lauder to head WJC solidarity mission to Israel
By SAM SOKOL
07/13/2014
American Jewish leaders arrive today to tour southern communities.
 
The World Jewish Congress announced over the weekend that it would cancel its worldwide senior staff retreat in the US this week and move it to Jerusalem in solidarity with Israelis as they come under rocket fire from Gaza.

Representatives of several Jewish organizations and denominations in the Diaspora are slated to come this week in a show of solidarity with Israel. The senior leadership of the WJC, Jewish Federations of North America and member organizations of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations are all expected to arrive between Sunday and Monday.

The WJC also announced that it will bring a delegation of top international leaders to Israel on Wednesday and Thursday to meet with senior administration officials, lawmakers and representatives of the military. The visitors will tour areas that have come under Hamas missile fire.

“The World Jewish Congress stands side-by-side with the people of Israel in this trying time, which we will show by registering our concern in person through this mission,” said WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, who will head the mission. “World Jewry will come out in force to show the nations that Israel is in the right, and that it is not alone.”

On Sunday, a delegation representing the Jewish Federations of North America will arrive in Jerusalem in order to visit affected areas, including Ashkelon, Sderot and the “Gaza envelope” region, and “assure the people of Israel that they are not alone.”

The Jewish Federations of North America has announced a “stop the sirens” fund-raising campaign in partnership with the Reform and Conservative movements, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the Israel Trauma Coalition and others.

The money raised will go to meet immediate needs for the next two weeks and for the immediate aftermath of the conflict, the Federations said.

Leaders of groups including the Religious Zionists of America, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Rabbinical Council of America will arrive on Monday with other leaders of the Conference of Presidents on a similar mission, and will likewise visit the South.

“We feel compelled to demonstrate in the most tangible way our deep concern for and solidarity with Israel by being physically present with them. They must know they are not alone and that the Jewish community as well the vast majority of the American people stand with them and pray for their safet y and strive to tell the true story of Israel’s defensive action,” said Robert G. Sugarman, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman and CEO, who will lead the delegation. “We are gratified that so many people responded on a few hours’ notice to sign up for the mission, and we hope that it will be replicated by communities across the US and around the world.”

The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 51 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern.
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