I still find it highly ironic that after spending nine years in St. Louis, that my first conference as director of CAJE will bring me back to St. Louis. Who says that you can’t go back home?
It has been very comforting having the support of friends and colleagues back in St. Louis . CAJE St. Louis (my old agency where I was the director), Federation, Hillel, the educators council, have all been extreemly helpful in working on the conference. All of our supplies from last year’s CAJE conference were shipped to Congregation Shaare Tzedek in St. Louis where they have been living for the past year. Michelle Brooks has been amazing as our St. Louis point person. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone back in St. Louis, even though I have a feeling that life might start getting even a bit more hectic once I arrive.
I sat down last week and counted up all of the CAJE conferences that I have ever attended. My first CAJE conference was in 1985 just before Ilana was born. I have been to almost every CAJE conference since then, except for the summer of 1987 when I was in Israel just beginning my year on the Senior Educators program at Hebrew University. That’s 20 some conferences I have been at – yet this will be my first.
After a year of careful planning the conference now seems to be rushing toward us. The next two weeks will be fillled with nailing down all of the last minute details and changes, but for the most part we are ready for about 1,600 of our closest friends to join us in St. Louis. CAJE staff will start leaving for St. Louis this week. David F. our Director of Conferences will be on site as of Thursday to work with the Wash U staff to make sure all of their preparations are in order. Ari S., our master quartermaster (think Radar from MASH) flies in from Israel on Thursday to begin office set up and coordinating all of our supplies, office machines, vehicles, technology, and presenter wants and needs. Aryeh S. also arrives on Thursday to begin the work of supervising the kashering of the Wash U dining facilities. By next Wednesday the kitchen should be ready to begin serving kosher meals. On Sunday additional staff including the CAJE 32 iterns arrive. On Tuesday July 31 I fly out and set up shop at the CAJE Wash U conference office.
So much to do, so little time.