The World Jewish Congress Plenary Assembly’s held its final session on Thursday ahead of its formal plenary session, focusing on the benefits of promoting and supporting Jewish unity and inclusive leadership in the increasingly diverse Jewish community.
The session, organized by WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps, was moderated by WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps member Alana Baranov of South Africa and featured remarks from fellow WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Member Jonathan Assouline, Erica Lyons of the Jewish Community of Hong Kong, Chair of the Board of Deputies of British Jews' Commission on Racial Inclusivity in the Jewish Community Stephen Bush, and Latin American Jewish Congress Commissioner for Gender Equality Vicky Chehebar. The session also included interventions from Jewish community leaders and other attendees.
Bush, who is also the political editor for the British magazine New Statesman, noted that its crucial for organizations to have a healthy “complaint culture”, saying, “a healthy organization needs complaints in order to improve evolve and be more inclusive.”
Contributing to the discussion, Assouline called on “global citizens to be aware of our obligations to one another not just in a policies within our countries, but in a policies between them into sharp relief.” He added, “We need to make sure that there's an open space for everyone,” adding that doing so will not only “attract a greater diversity of people, but also the ones that you want.”
Chehebar, a philanthropist and a past-president of the Sephardic Ladies association in Colombia, said that organizations not only allow women to sit at the table, but to participate in the process of reshaping the organization structure and procedures to “reflect the new culture.”
Lyons called on those listening to move away from the “light-hearted “Oh, you know I hate my Jewish hair or my Jewish nose,”’ explaining that it really is “not promoting inclusivity. In Judaism there's no such thing as Jewish hair there's no such thing as a Jewish nose. I have a Chinese daughter, she has Jewish hair and a Jewish nose. She's Jewish.”
The WJC Plenary Assembly, which elects WJC leadership and sets policy for the years ahead, takes place every four years and brings together delegates from WJC-affiliated Jewish communities and organizations in more than 100 countries around the world.
Previous topical discussion sessions have covered the Iranian nuclear threat, Israel’s political future, and the role on young leaders within their communities. Participants also had the opportunity to interact with leading Muslim representatives from the Muslim World League, Special Envoys and Coordinators Combating Antisemitism (SECCA) and members of the International Council of Jewish Parliamentarians,
The formal Plenary session will be held online on 25 May.