1,100 French Jewish High School Students Celebrate Hanukkah in Jerusalem

Photo by Avi Dodi for Amit Productions

1,100 high school seniors from twenty-five Jewish schools across France celebrated the third night of Hanukkah (Thursday, December 18) in Jerusalem. Participants enjoyed performances by Israeli singer-songwriter Yonatan Razel and IDF Chief Cantor Lt. Col. Shai Abramson, accompanied by the IDF Rabbinate Troupe. Bac Bleu Blanc ("High School Seniors in Blue and White") is a program run by The Jewish Agency for Israel, with the support of Keren Hayesod-UIA, that brings French Jewish high school seniors to Israel on a one-week educational trip every winter. Since Bac Bleu Blanc's creation eleven years ago, some 10,000 students from twenty-five French Jewish high schools have come to Israel as part of the program. This year marks the program's twelfth session, and for the first time ever, several … [Read more...]

Govn’t of Israel and Jewish Agency Sign Memorandum of Understanding on “Initiative”

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After decades of lobbying, profile of high school in Israel programs raised It has been almost 3 months since we have heard anything about the World Jewry Joint Initiative. But behind the scenes, significant negotiation has taken place. In fact, we have learned that so much effort has but put into this agreement that if JAFI's representative was billing his usual and customary hourly rate, the bill might exceed $100,000! In the end, the negotiation has now culminated in an initialized non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the parties. While there are still many details to be worked out, the MoU lays out overall governance including structure, oversight and of most interest to our readers the "Initial Content Areas:" Teen trips to Israel - to double the numbers of teen … [Read more...]

8 Cities, 11 Flights, 4 Questions

By Robbie Gringras I have recently returned from an 8 city, 11 flight, 2 weeks’ tour of campuses in North America - with 4 questions. I was one of the Jewish Agency’s Makom team running full-day workshops on “Gaza, Israel, and the Jews” for the staff of thirty Hillels. Our aim was to empower Hillel and campus leaders to frame constructive conversations about the Gaza Conflict by identifying pertinent questions (rather than institutional answers), and by defining a successful conversation as one that leads to a second conversation… As always happens in a workshop that is a combination of frontal teaching and dialogical interaction, the entire tour was as illuminating for me as one hopes it was for the participants. Apart from learning that DC taxi drivers are the most interesting in the … [Read more...]

Jewish Agency Presents NIS 50 Million Aid Package to Residents of Southern Israel

The Jewish Agency for Israel has developed a NIS 50 million ($13.22 million) aid package to help the communities of Israel's south recover from this summer's hostilities, thanks to contributions from the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod-UIA, and other donors. The aid package includes a series of programs aimed at enabling the communities of southern Israel, particularly those closest to the border with Gaza, to expand their population bases and support a range of groups with an investment of NIS 25 million. It also includes NIS 25 million worth of aid extended to the residents of the South during the summer's hostilities. The aid package being developed includes scholarships for local students, assistance to local businesses, grants for victims of rocket attacks, the … [Read more...]

Southern Israel Comes Back to Life Thanks to the Jewish People

Children from southern Israel participate in a special summer camp run by The Jewish Agency for Israel's Fund for Victims of Terror. Photo credit: Sarah Bronson for The Jewish Agency for Israel.

By Rany Trainin At the conclusion of Simchat Torah, I had the opportunity to experience a truly moving event. More than one thousand people spanning four generations, all of them members and residents of Kibbutz Nahal Oz in the past and the present, gathered to celebrate the end of the kibbutz's sixtieth birthday year. As residents of the Gaza border region, the kibbutz members also took the opportunity to mark a return to normalcy after a turbulent and difficult summer. As Deputy Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel and a longtime resident of the region, I was overcome with emotion upon being asked to greet the gathering on behalf of the Jewish world. The event took place thanks to the support of The Jewish Agency and the entire Jewish people, whose contributions made the emotional and … [Read more...]

Jewish Agency Response to IFCJ Aliyah Initiative

The Jewish Agency has released the following statement (below - in full) in response to yesterday's announcement from the International fellowship of Christians and Jews: "The Jewish Agency for Israel is the body tasked with bringing new immigrants to Israel. As part of its activities, The Jewish Agency works with various government ministries and other organizations interested in aiding its efforts to bring immigrants to the Jewish state. "While The Jewish Agency certainly welcomes the involvement of any organization interested in helping to promote and facilitate Aliyah, we view the recent announcement by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews as unfortunate and ill-advised. The Jewish Agency is the only organization with the infrastructure, the proven experience, and the … [Read more...]

IFCJ Ups The Aliyah Game

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The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) will dramatically increase its efforts to bring more olim to Israel from the Former Soviet Union and countries in crisis across the world. The project will be led by former Director General of Aliyah and Absorption at The Jewish Agency, Eli Cohen, who will join The Fellowship as Vice President for Immigration and Absorption. Cohen served in a series of senior positions at The Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization and is finishing his term as Deputy CEO of Mekorot, Israel's National Water Carrier. Cohen will initially be tasked to build a strategic plan for aliyah and absorption. … [Read more...]

Building Jewish Community Through Dance

photo courtesy Yana Brook

By Abigail Pickus Yana Brook was already a teenager when she found out that she was Jewish. Growing up in St. Petersburg, the daughter of a Jewish father and a Russian mother, it wasn’t that her Jewish identity was deliberately hidden from her. It was more like her Jewish roots were not spoken of - a common situation for many Jewish families in the Soviet Union. “We ate Jewish food and had Jewish jokes in our family and I even received gifts when I was 13 [indicating a bat mitzvah],” recalled Brook, “but I thought everyone did this. I thought everyone ate gefilte fish. We just never spoke about it.” But then something shifted when Brook’s mother took her to the Israeli cultural center when she was 13 for dance lessons. “I always loved dance,” said the now 26-year-old. And it was … [Read more...]