Yesterday, January 16, 2011, leaders from Jewish communities around North America came together to participate in the Orthodox Union’s 112th Anniversary Convention. It was an exceptional weekend of learning, seminars; workshops and discussions that helped chart the course of the Jewish community for the coming years.
Every two years, the OU meets in Convention to decide on resolutions that will guide it for the next term. Among the issues and resolutions adopted at the Convention are the following:
• Civility – As the discussion about civility and rhetoric in public life is ongoing following the violent assault in Tucson, Arizona on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and other innocent Americans, OU members from around the Orthodox Jewish community have agreed that there is a need for change in the way that our community engages in public discourse. Civility in everyday dealings has grown far more difficult in our contemporary world where instant communication, social networking and a drastic coarsening of public dialogue has ensued. The Orthodox Union is therefore proud to have taken the lead as an original cosponsor of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ “civility campaign”; which declares that “we as a community and as individuals must pledge the basic norms of civic discussion and debate at public events. We do this not to stifle free expression of views, but rather to protect it”. The denial of such norms is particularly painful when it is done in intra-Orthodox dialogue where the Torah’s dictate of “D’rachea Darchei Noam (its ways are ways of pleasantness)” should set the tone for any and all discussion.
• Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – At this year’s convention the Orthodox Union emphasized that the Jewish community must be proactive in combating the anti-Israel BDS movement that has sprouted and is trying to harm the State of Israel. An adopted resolution committed the organization to continuing its efforts in partnership with other Jewish organizations, to monitor and combat this scourge. The danger of the movement is not that it will have significant short term impact in these various spheres. Rather, unless effectively countered, over time it may have the corrosive effect of changing the culture of political discussion and making it harder for people of goodwill to publicly support Israel. If support for Israel and Zionism is seen as racism, this will be fertile ground for the growth of anti-Semitism.
• Childhood Obesity and Eating Disorders – The OU acknowledged that obesity and eating disorders are a growing health concern for children and adolescents and require immediate action by our community. Obese children and adolescents are at the highest risk for health problems during their youth and as adults. The Orthodox Jewish community is not immune to this problem. The health of our community, and in particular, our community’s children must be a priority. Additionally, eating disorders has become one of the worst epidemics of our time. Millions of people worldwide are suffering as they remain affected with their self image. Anorexia and bulimia are amongst the most emotionally and physically devastating disorders affecting young Jewish women and men today. The effects are not only on the person themselves but are also debilitating to the family structure.
Additional resolutions passed at this year’s convention also covered the areas of:
• Jewish Education
• Personal and Communal Integrity
• Condemning and Combating Child Abuse
• Social Justice and Communal Responsibility
To read a PDF of the Resolutions and their action points passed at the Orthodox Union’s 112th Anniversary Convention, please click here