Why Sharansky is Wrong to Write off European Jewry

A leader is one whose words not only describe reality, but whose words prescribe the future. By Barbara Spectre “I believe we are beginning to see the end of Jewish history in Europe” Natan Sharansky, Jewish Chronicle (UK) July 25th Dear Natan, I am certain that it gave you no joy to have uttered what you said, in the wake of rising antisemitism and the discomfort of Jews in France, as well as increased aliyah to Israel. You suggested that the situation might herald not only the demise of the venerable French Jewish community but also of Jewish communities throughout Europe. That prediction must cause you pain, as I know of your deep dedication to Jews wherever they are. You are one of the most powerful and respected leaders in the Jewish world today, carrying with that leadership … [Read more...]

Compounding One Mistake With Another Mistake

oops

The failure of Israeli politicians and bureaucrats to fully appreciate the complicated voluntary [philanthropic] system in the Diaspora will only alienate current donors and fail to attract new ones. By Stephen G. Donshik If it were not so sad, it would seem be a comedy of errors. First the Israeli government announces the initiation of the World Jewry Joint Initiative (the Initiative), to be developed by it in a partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). The next thing we hear is that the government is moving ahead on its own and does not seem to be engaging JAFI in planning the strategy and the developing the Initiative program. Using a tongue-and-cheek perspective, you could say that one mistake is being compounded by another mistake. The entire Initiative process seems to be … [Read more...]

As Gov’t Diaspora Initiative Moves Forward, Politics at the Forefront

With rockets targeting Jerusalem and Tel Aviv this evening the latest ceasefire is already a joke. So too is the relationship between the principal players in the World Jewry Joint Initiative (ofter referred to as the Prime Minister's Initiative (PMI) on this site and elsewhere). Let's back up to an abbreviated history. Last July, eJP broke the story on the planning for this ground-breaking project. The PMI was pegged as a $300 million a year program and made headlines around Israel and the Jewish world. At that point in time, The Jewish Agency (JAFI) had been working with the Prime Minister’s Office on the project for almost a year. In November of last year, a Summit was held in Jerusalem bringing together over a  hundred representatives of Jewish communities worldwide, including The Agency's … [Read more...]

Bringing It Home: Introducing Young Israeli Emissaries to American Jewish Life

160 young Jewish Agency shlichim will participate in a New York seminar aimed at introducing them to American Jewish life and inspiring them to remain engaged and serve as a link to world Jewry upon their return to Israel. The “Bringing It Home” 3 day seminar is being organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel with significant support from UJA-Federation of New York. The seminar curriculum is being provided by The Jewish Agency’s Makom unit. Every year, The Jewish Agency for Israel's Summer Shlichim Program sends more than 1,100 young Israelis to more than 200 Jewish summer camps across North America, where they engage in a vast range of educational activities and provide campers and staff with a personal connection to Israel. This year, as shlichim return from summer camps throughout the greater … [Read more...]

Reinventing Summer for College Students – and Summer Camps

By Sara Merken and Jenny Kaufman Our universities want us to get an internship, but our hearts push us to go back to camp, or to Israel. What's incredible: our camp, Camp Pembroke, is allowing us to do it all. As first-ever participants in the Dor L'Dor: College Style program, a partnership between the Cohen Camps and The Jewish Agency's Onward Israel post-Birthright initiative, we are having a summer filled with amazing experiences to add to our resume. Jewish summer camps around the country have been seeking new initiatives to bring experienced counselors back to camp, and the Dor L'Dor: College Style is the perfect way to do it. We're truly experiencing the best of everything, and we would recommend it to others in a heartbeat. For five weeks in between the end of the school year and the … [Read more...]

Summertime in Ukraine

JAFI camp for highlights

Despite escalating violence throughout Ukraine, normal routine continues to remain a priority for Jewish Agency programming. By Avital Chizhik special to eJP It’s a hot summer in Ukraine. And the streets are mostly empty of children. Anna Landberg, director of The Jewish Agency summer camp in Kharkov in eastern Ukraine, sighs as she remembers the difficulty of recruiting for summer camps. “Parents are afraid to send their children out of sight here,” she says. “No one knows what will happen tomorrow and it’s been very difficult figuring out even the simplest logistics, like the children’s transportation to our camp sites. There are days when we are almost positive that the camp will be full, and there are other days where many families change their minds. Out of fear.” Despite the … [Read more...]

Coding the Next Iron Dome?

It is clear that there is every possibility that one of the people in the room could be the next Iron Dome inventor, and that their time in Israel has made them even more connected to the possibility of doing something big. Photo courtesy The Jewish Agency.

A group of young 20-somethings stand in a Soho-like loft space in a tech incubator in South Tel Aviv, presenting the future of traffic to a panel of the Start Up Nation’s leading lights. The CTO of PayPal Israel is there (they are sponsoring the event), as is a representative of the Prime Minister’s Office, and so are several experts on the emerging field of smart cities. by Sara K. Eisen "Building Brilliant” is the theme of the day-long hackathon now culminating in what was supposed to be a rooftop cocktail party, but is now a modest meet and greet, because there is a war going on. But the participants are chill. “When the siren sounds we go and code in the shelter, and then we just move on,” says Kevin, a software engineering student from Montevideo with a shrug. Resilient, … [Read more...]

Youth Futures: In the Full Sense of the Word

Youth Futures, Operation Protective Edge, July 2014; photo courtesy The Jewish Agency.

1,421 participants in the Youth Futures Program: “A day like this affirms the strength of the South” "It is good to get out of the house for a little bit, to break from our routine, Aviv, a participant of Youth Futures from Sderot, tells. “Today I played in the pool and on the slides, it was really fun ... At home, I usually play on my cellphone, on the computer, and watch television.” Whenever the Water Park of Shefa’im would make announcements on the loud speaker, the hearts of the managers and mentors of “Youth Futures” would skip a beat - the announcements sounded too much like 'Code Red' alerts - the sirens blaring all over Israel warning of incoming rockets from Gaza. In times like these, every sound on the loudspeaker reverts them back to their roles as managers, mentors, and parents. … [Read more...]