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Day 1 - Monday, July 29, 2019

Arrival in Buenos Aires!

The Adventure Begins

I arrived at Philadelphia airport with the temperature at 91 degrees for our first flight to Miami en route to Buenos Aires, where it is currently 56 degrees - I’m actually looking forward to some cooler weather!

I met up with our JFD Board President, Richard Levine, and we spoke about how excited we were to go on this Mission. Then, things took a temporary turn for the worse. After waiting for over 3 hours at Philadelphia airport, we were informed that our flight to Miami had mechanical problems and would be delayed to the point that we would miss our connection to Buenos Aires.

After many frantic phone calls and internet searches, we ran across the length of the airport and scrambled on to a flight to Atlanta (with minutes to spare) that would connect us to Buenos Aires in time to arrive Monday morning.

We arrived in Atlanta at Terminal B and rushed through the airport to find a train to take us to Terminal F. Once again we arrived at the gate just in time after all the other passengers had boarded. But we are now en route on our 9 hour flight to Buenos Aires!

We have no idea if our luggage will arrive but we are thrilled that we will arrive in time for the opening program and can’t wait to meet our fellow FRD Mission participants!

Opening Lunch & Program at the Alvear Palace Hotel

Hola from Buenos Aires, Argentina!

A city of approx. 160,000 Jews with 56 synagogues. The only kosher McDonalds outside of Israel found here. More importantly the only Latin American city with a Holocaust memorial.

Welcome & Introductions

David Brown, National Campaign Chair, Chicago
Largest attendance at an FRD Mission in history. Formally introduced Eric Fingerhut, new CEO of JFNA. Argentinian Jewish community struggles with similar issues we have in US and worldwide, especially anti-Semitism. Uruguay was the first country to recognize Israel as a state and one of the most Zionistic communities.

Michael Friedman, Senior Vice President, Philanthropic Planning & Services at The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore
During this mission we will have the opportunity to see work of our partners and learn new skills to make a lasting impact in our communities.

Shary Levitt and Rachel Sternberg, Mission Trainers, CCT Consultants
We need to change the way we work. Younger generations care less about organizations and more about values. We must make sure that they do that in the context of Jewish values and how they can be a part of the solution.

Shelly Kupfer, National Women's Philanthropy Chair

Partner Overview
Heard from Federation’s overseas partners the Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency and ORT about the work worldwide.

JAFI is about to approach 90th birthday. Their goal is to make sure Jews everywhere live safely. Their priority is to connect young Jews outside of Israel to the state of Israel and their extended Jewish family there. Creating reciprocal connections. 

WORLD ORT headquarters are based in London. It was founded in 1880 in Russia to retrain Jews so they could work and become self-sustaining. In 1948 moved to Israel and got involved in formal education to give people the best education and give people the opportunity to get the best jobs. There are 3 major areas in which ORT operates: Israel, former Soviet Union, Latin America. ORT’s work strengthens individual schools. Following study in 2006, ORT focused on STEM subjects at schools especially in vulnerable populations. In 2007, ORT put $8 million into STEM training in schools vastly improved education.

JDC was founded 1948. The Committee that formed was made up of Jews from all different sects. They provided rescue, relief and reconstruction of Jewish communities after the First World War. JDC was also there to assist during unbelievable economic crisis in Argentina

We were joined by Rabbi Alex Felch, scholar-in-residence for the mission originally from Argentina now living in Chicago. We learned that the first congregation in Argentina in began in 1860. We visited the Templo Libertad Synagogue. Construction began on the synagogue in 1897, took 35 years to build and was inaugurated in 1932. The synagogues Pipe Organ was one of only 8 made in 1940’s. The temple accommodates 700+ members and is currently transitioning to a Reform congregation from a Conservative one.

Panel Discussion at synagogue 

“All Jews are responsible for one for the other, no matter where they live." Our responsibility is bigger than us, or our local communities as it always has been and always will be. It is incumbent upon us to take what we see and bring it back to our communities and share the reality for Jews around the world. It is our job to increase awareness of what is going on with Jews outside of our own backyard.


Monday evening we went to Circolo Italiano for dinner and had the opportunity to meet and learn from representatives from the Jewish Agency about the work they are doing in Argentina. We also heard from a local Rabbi who has become a political figure. Rabbi Sergio Bergman has a background in pharmacy and biochemistry. He’s the first Rabbi elected to government office in Argentina and currently serves as the National Secretary of the Environment & Sustainable Development. He spoke about his work not only in the community but also on biodiversity an suggested that we adopt a “Biodiversity of Giving” with our donors and community members to allow them to make an impact in their own way following their own dreams through their annual and legacy giving. “Let’s integrate Jewish values into the world."

Part of the Mission also focuses on the kickoff of the 2020 Annual Campaign, and tonight we honored several Mission participants who have increased their gifts for 2020 through both annual and legacy commitments. There will be a significant focus on Lion of Judah Endowments (LOJE) and Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowments (PACE) along with the creation of funds for special interests, such as leadership development and educational initiatives. 

After traveling and being up for over 24 hours, we are all looking forward to a good night’s sleep to prepare us for a very full day on Tuesday! 

Love From,

Photos from Monday, July 29, 2019