Comment: Tel Aviv One - one of a kind

It has been a packed four days of intense lectures, hands-on education, exciting touring and up-scale partying here in Tel Aviv. What started on Sunday night, when 1,200 leaders from North America, ages 22-45, descended into the throbbing, metropolitan heart of Israel for Tel Aviv One, ended on Wednesday. They are people with abundant ambition and vision, seeking to clarify that vision and reinvigorate their commitment to the land and people of Israel. Some had never set foot previously in the Holy Land, others are nostalgically recalling the time they spent here touring, studying or volunteering. They are doctors, lawyers, students and educators. They work for Jewish federations, or sit on the boards, or volunteer their time, or show up for social events or are looking to become more involved. For members of this group, Jewish identity and commitment to Israel may be a matter of religious, cultural, social or default identity. Some are merely exploring and some are more certain of their roots. The common ground which transcended all of these differences was the overwhelming love that this group expressed for Israel and their excitement to be here. Over and over, participants described the beautiful feeling of social unity that surrounded them here and made it possible to forge important friendships in a short amount of time. They are moved by the incredible fortitude of the tiny, Jewish country. Every day, the group has enjoyed educational seminars in the luxurious David Intercontinental Hotel. They have been addressed by luminaries in industry, government and the arts, as well as immigrants with inspiring personal stories. They have taken trips throughout the country including locales such as Netanya, Ashkelon, Haifa and Hadera, in order to see for themselves the federation-funded kindergartens, community centers, absorption centers, food distribution centers and clinics. Each evening, they were serenaded by live music, enjoyed fine dining and drank Israel's finest wines. Tears flowed in the Baltimore group's private discussion and wrap-up of their time during this conference. People were moved and hopefully this will translate not only into an emotional commitment to Israel, but to a commitment for action on the part of these successful young people.