Thursday, March 17, 2011

What happens in Vegas....

Written by: Shira Webber

It wasn't long ago that I blogged about TribeFest and who I'd hope to see sitting around a poker table...suffice to say non of my hopeful star sightings were spotted. However I did have an incredible time and do feel it is only fair that I share some of my TribeFest Vegas highlights with you.

The Opening Act
Kicking off the weekend we heard from Congresswoman slash breast cancer survivor Debbie Schultz, Aaron Cohen Author of  'Brotherhood of Warriors', The “Hebrew Mamita” Vanessa Hidary, and TV actress Mayim Bialik,

As much as I loved listening to Blossom tell everyone about her Jewish Journey, I am pretty sure she knows as well as I do it's got to suck to have to speak after the  "Hebrew Mamita". Vanessa Hildary spit out her signature poem 'Hebrew Mamita' (which I have always been a fan of) but hearing it while surrounded by 2000 Jews from across North America I felt like a "pride filled Jewish girl"...I mean with her as a sister who wouldn't be proud to be Jewish?

Dinner at The Wynn
The first Jewish evening gathering of the weekend was at the Wynn's Surrender Night Club, seems fitting, no?  My girl friend and I were hoping for hors d'oeuvres so when we realized it was an un-catered event, we decided drinks on an empty stomach was not the way to go and made our way over to the closet restaurant. Dinner at 'Stratta' on its own did not make the  Tribefest Vegas highlight reel however spotting Gary Busey: and either La Toya Jackson or Star Jones (couldn't tell which?)  having dinner a few tables away did. Sitting at the back of the restaurant eating ribs with other cast members of  what I thought was the cast of Celebrity Rehab (but realized it was Celebrity apprentice, when someone pointed out that rehab in Vegas makes no sense.. ) were the only star sightings I can report of  this trip outside of The famous Jews (Blossom and the Hebrew Mamita) attending TribeFest.

The Speech that brought me to my Feet
Have you ever had the opportunity to hear someone speak that was so inspirational you were compelled to jump out of your seat in applause? Alina Gerlovin Spaulding was that someone for me while in Vegas. Alina's story is a miracle story.

The daughter of an Olympic hopeful for the Soviet ski team Alina's  family tried unsuccessfully  for years to escape the Former Soviet Union. It wasn't until 1979 when, North American Jewish agencies whom I work directly for and which are funded by yours and every Jew at that conference's Jewish federation dollars. stepped up and made it possible for Alina and her family to immigrate to the united States. Her story was personal, emotional  and real, she made you feel as thought she was speaking directly to you when she thanked the Jewish people for everything that she has as a result of Jewish Federations support. Alina was a TribeFest Vegas Highlight, she brought me to my feet.

If you read my previous Glee blog it shouldn't come as a surprise to you that a Vegas highlight would be something described as a "mash-up" (Mash-up was the eighth episode of the television series Glee.) However as much as it appealed to me because it reminded me of Glee, the Mash-up's in Vegas were the evening social events that took place at the Mandalay Bay for all Tribefest attendees. The Mash-up's make my TribeFest highlight reel because it was where I met some of the coolest Jews (shout out to Dallas) that I may otherwise not have met. The live entertainment and open bar also added to the overall Mash-up enjoyment.

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