Graduating Senior at Touro College’s Lander College for Women Delivers Rousing Address at Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum Chair’s Dinner in Washington, D.c.
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Stresses Tikkun Olam and Close Connection between Touro College and JCPA.
New York, N.Y. - Shayna Weinberg-Gordon of Peoria, Illinois, a graduating senior at Touro College’s Lander College for Women-The Anna Ruth and Mark Hasten School (LCW), delivered a rousing address to more than 400 communal leaders from all over the United States during the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ (JCPA) Plenum Chair’s Dinner, held from March 5-8, at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel in Washington, D.C.
Ms. Weinberg-Gordon was part of a delegation of students from LCW who attended the JCPA Plenum, of which Touro College was a sponsor--a three-day conference where delegates participated and exchanged ideas at plenary sessions, forums and workshops designed to enhance advocacy in their communities.
The Plenum is the highest decision-making body of the JCPA, which over the years has attracted to its meetings the most significant leaders in the American-Israeli political arena. In attendance this year was Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, along with Wayne Firestone, national president of Hillel; Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO; and Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project.
“We are honored to have our students actively engaged in furthering Jewish life,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, president and CEO of Touro College, “especially since there is such a long-standing, powerful bond between Touro and the JCPA. Ms. Weinberg-Gordon’s speech illustrated that bond eloquently.”
In her remarks, Ms. Weinberg-Gordon discussed the close connection between Touro College and the JCPA due, to a large part, to the late Rabbi Dr. Bernard Lander, founding president of Touro College, who was instrumental in the founding of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council, now known as JCPA.
“The values with which I was raised – that core of Jewish identity, the belief that the Jewish tradition is something special, something worth protecting, the belief that we must each do whatever is in our power to fulfill the Jewish ideal of tikkun olam [healing the world], both within ourselves and in the greater community – these are the goals of the JCPA, and all of these have played a role in every step of my life, including the ones that brought me up to this podium to address you tonight,” she said.
Ms. Weinberg-Gordon added that one of the goals of the JCPA is to ensure that every generation hears the timeless message of Jewish vitality and Torah conscience, internalizes it, and takes up the banner.
“The message stays the same, but somehow it must speak to young and old, Democrat and Republican, American and non-American, secular, Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, Orthodox, and everyone in between,” she said. “We may seem worlds apart from each other, but we have heard and answered the same call.”
Both the JCPA and Touro College, she observed, are products of the vision of Dr. Bernard Lander, who spent his life answering that call. “If organizations such as Touro College and the JCPA can continue to fulfill their roles, to use whatever means we have at our disposal to allow our message to be heard, then the Jewish community can look forward to the future envisioned by Dr. Lander and longed for by everyone present tonight.”
Dr. Marian Stoltz-Loike, dean of LCW, concurred with Dr. Kadish. “The relationship between Touro College and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs has always been a cohesive one. We are proud to be part of such a critical exchange of ideas that will affect Jewish communities both in the United States and in Israel.”
Dr. David Luchins, chair of the Political Science Department of Touro College, noted that “Ms. Weinberg- Gordon’s address resonated wonderfully with communal leaders from every background. She really captured the spirit of the entire event in five powerpacked minutes.”