I HAD intended to be just a tagalong to the first annual conference in Eilat. The weather was inviting as was the Queen of Sheba Hilton. Little did I know what serendipity was awaiting me. The program was filled with exciting and relevant subjects. The first session was the role of the media in dealing with the environment, moderated by Nitzan Horovitz of Channel 10. Among the panel members was a very impressive member of Knesset, Dov Hanin. He talked about the rise in cancer among residents of Haifa due, in his opinion, to the extreme pollution in the area of the Chemical Industries around Haifa Bay. I was so impressed with his concern that I asked for his email: The next session was on the Jewish Media in the Diaspora. It was introduced by Zeev Bielski, who assured me that he is still a loyal reader of Esra Magazine and continues to admire all we are doing in the community. It surely put a smile on my face. The smile quickly disappeared upon hearing the very sad statistics about how we are losing the interest of Jews in the United States. It was stated that 70% of Jewish citizens of the U.S. have not and do not seem likely to visit Israel. The Jewish Chronicle represented by Jeff Barak, talked about how the Chronicle fills the social needs of the community with the birth, marriage and death announcements. The French Jewish radio station seems to have a great impact on the community. The major question is if we in Israel are doing enough to create a more vital connection with the Diaspora, are we educating our young people in the history of the Diaspora and the connection between us and Jewish communities around the world. The most moving session was addressed by the father of Daniel Pearl, the journalist who was so brutally murdered. He spoke so fervently about what a sensitive peace loving young man he was and how he saw the need for dialogue and connection between peoples. His father said he didn't die for what he was, but who he was – a Jew. He talked about a memorial service he had attended for his son where a Protestant minister likened a journalist to the prophets in the Old Testament. He highlighted how they were the first to bring the news, give assessments of the situations and even predict the outcome. I thought that an interesting analogy. He also announced that there is a foundation in Daniel Pearl's name that promotes communication between youngsters worldwide via internet. Those who complete the requirements receive diplomas as Junior Journalists. Ruty Hotzen is its representative in Israel and can be reached at

The conference was an eye opener in many respects and I look forward to the next one.

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Phyllis Bloch

Phyllis Bloch was born in Brooklyn, New York. She studied at Mills College of Education and received a degree in Early Childhood education. Her Masters degree was from Queens College, majoring in spec...

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