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Leaving Las Vegas

Leaving Las Vegas

It wouldn’t be a trip to Vegas without a reflective look back on the morning after.

I didn’t have as much fun as some people, but I did break even at the slots while resisting the temptation of more serious games. Instead I got bled a different way, donating a pint at the TribeFest blood drive, which meant keeping dry at the popular Jewlicious L’chaim party held right before my appointment. Although I’m still too 2009 to download the TribeFest app, I managed to find my way around the Generation X way (the printed schedule and following people who had the app). It was a busy three days in which I filled up a few notebooks and a Flip camera full of video that you can view here.

In terms of attendance and participation, the three-day young leadership extravaganza in Sin City was an unqualified success, drawing over 1,200 people. But in conducting random interviews with participants, both myself and JTA’s Sue Fishkoff found that the majority of people were already connected and engaged in Jewish life through their local federations — not the type of disaffected, unaffiliated Jew looking for a path into the fold for whom TribeFest was purportedly created. A few dozen people out of more than 1,000 is not a scientific sample, but it it does make you wonder.

So far, the Jewish Federations of North America honchos have not released statistics about insiders vs. outsiders at TribeFest. It could take a while, but they should. Local federations subsidized the regstration and even travel of many participants, and judging from the costs involved, it was probably a money-loser that absorbed a substantial amount of philanthropic dollars at a time when they’re stretched to the breaking point as government grants dry up.

Before they make TribeFest another fixture on the busy communal calendar, like the GA, Salute to Israel Parade and AIPAC policy conference, the organizers should seriously assess whether it plants enough of a seed for future leadership to justify the price tag, or if it’s just an excuse to party while preaching to the converted.

If you were at TribeFest, you’re probably a little tired of lists, but here’s one of signs you may be suffering TribeFest withdrawal. And here’s a place to leave your impressions about it. You could also share them with this blog by commenting below, or e-mail me at As of The Day After, people are still using the #TribeFest hashtag on Twitter, too, if you can’t get enough.

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