Imagine More

Just a few weeks ago, JDC (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) convened its first ever global women’s summit. It’s theme: Imagine More. More than 200 women (and a few men), from 25 states and 15 countries, gathered together to examine the world we live in today through the eyes of women.

A group of 20 Associated Women occupied three tables and immersed themselves into a day of learning and discovery. There was a palpable energy in the large banquet room filled with philanthropists, activists, and advocates who passionately addressed the importance of women as agents of change for individuals and communities around the globe.

The first keynote address was delivered by Dr. Paula Johnson, President of Wellesley College. She encouraged everyone there to question society’s accepted beliefs. “Only then, when we ask tough questions, can we ensure that we hold firm to our moral stances,” as it pertains to what goes on around us every day.

A constant thread throughout the day centered on women’s economic empowerment and how in many places around the world resources are needed to kickstart livelihoods. One fascinating example that was shared shed light on commonalities between the Haredi community in Israel and Israeli-Arabs. For some time now, strides have been made to support Haredi women so they can enter and advance within the Israeli workforce. Now this model has found its way into mixed communities with a significant Israeli-Arab population. These women also seek to be productive members of society and work alongside their Jewish neighbors.

The summit concluded with an address by Nguyen, a sexual assault survivor and the CEO and founder of Rise. In her emotional and moving telling of how she found her way through despair to the halls of Congress and the floor of the United Nations, it seemed as though everyone in the room knew of a similar story of redemption in their own communities. It was clear that the Jewish community is not immune to the social injustices of the world. She left the audience with these words, “Hope is contagious – anyone can drive democracy, scale hope, and create change. If I could do it, so can you.”

The group of Associated Women left feeling hopeful and challenged to make the world a better place tomorrow.

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