The 8th World Jewish Congress (WJC) National Community Directors’ Forum, recently held in Rome, was a pivotal event, especially considering the recent challenges faced by the global Jewish community amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and in the aftermath of Hamas' October 7th terror attack against Israel.
This year's forum was particularly significant, taking place against a backdrop of heightened tensions and concerns. The presence of WJC President Ronald S. Lauder added weight to the proceedings, underscoring the importance of the discussions and the need for cohesive action and support among Jewish communities worldwide.
The opening session set a somber yet determined tone. Keynote speakers, including Mrs. Noemi Di Segni and Mr. Maram Stern, addressed the complexities of the current global situation, emphasizing the need for solidarity and proactive engagement in these trying times.
The session titled "Different Perspectives: Reaction of Governments and Societies to the Hamas-Israel War" was especially poignant. It provided a platform for community leaders to share their unique perspectives and experiences, highlighting the diverse impacts of the conflict on Jewish communities across the globe.
Breakout sessions such as "Bridge Building for the Future," "Supporting Communities through Diplomacy," and "Countering Growing Antisemitism" fostered in-depth discussions. These sessions were critical in addressing the immediate concerns arising from the conflict and exploring strategies to strengthen global Jewish communities.
The visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome and the Jewish Museum was a powerful reminder of the enduring strength and resilience of the Jewish people. The reception that followed, with speeches from Vatican dignitaries and community leaders offered a moment of reflection on the Jewish community's historical struggles and triumphs.
The discussions on the role of social media during crises, particularly in the wake of the October 7th attack, were insightful. They shed light on the challenges of combating misinformation and the importance of accurate representation in the media.
The forum also included a session on capacity building for Jewish communities, focusing on practical solutions to support and strengthen communities at the grassroots level – a crucial step in addressing the current needs and future challenges facing Jewish communities. In addition, a distinctive and special visit to the Vatican was arranged, providing the opportunity to attend the general audience with the Pope alongside the families of the hostages.
The WJC National Community Directors Forum was not just a meeting; it was a rallying point for Jewish leaders in a time of significant global challenges. The insights and strategies developed during the forum are set to play a vital role in guiding Jewish communities in these turbulent times, reinforcing a collective commitment to resilience and unity.