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...]

The Jewish World Responds

A child victim of terror participates in a Jewish-Agency-run respite camp; photo courtesy The Jewish Agency.

On July 7th, Israel launched Operation Protective Edge and the Jewish world immediately mobilized to provide a range of services to soften the war's impact, particularly on the lives of children and families. Following is a partial list of initiatives underway (culled from list-servs of the various organizations). JDC / The Joint Since the crisis began, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) immediately activated its network of programs for the most vulnerable Israelis to quickly ensure the needs and safety of the elderly, people with disabilities, and children and youth throughout the country as rockets rain down from Gaza. JDC’s emergency response includes: For the Elderly: JDC’s Day Centers for the Elderly in Netivot, Merchavim, Sdot Negev, and Rahat delivering … [Read more...]

Measuring Jewish Identity

Impact Matrix

We have been so process-driven as an organized Jewish community that we have not demanded more in terms of outcomes. by Dr. Misha Galperin and Dr. Aviva Zubida Zeltzer We very much appreciated Jon Levisohn’s recent reflections in eJewishPhilanthropy on rethinking Jewish identity. These came out of a conference on Jewish identity and education and the concern that he expressed about the way the Jewish community talks - or does not talk - about notions of Jewish identity and assumptions that get made about it in the world of education. Levisohn posits that some scholars don’t discuss identity at all, or as much as we should, because it is too hard to measure. Although he offers a number of other reasons, I would like to share our thoughts on how we measure Jewish identity, at least how we are … [Read more...]

The Jewish Agency Appears Marginalized in Aliyah

The Jerusalem Post has obtained a draft copy of the proposed new aliyah initiative. This according to a just published article in the paper. The draft appears to confirm a number of items previously published in the media, organizational denials non-withstanding, including: The establishment of a new corporation to be owned jointly by the four “national institutions, ” Keren Hayesod, KKL-JNF, The Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization. The initiative would initially be funded by a grant from KKL-JNF for 100 million shekel. But the bombshell, now clearly spelled out by the JPost article, is: "Under the plan, the Ministry of Aliya and Immigrant Absorption would [have] four seats on an eight person steering committee that would oversee the new corporation. The Director General of the … [Read more...]

The JAFI Aliyah Saga, cont’d

Over the past several days articles have appeared in numerous media publications, including here on eJP, focused on a new government-owned company to be established to facilitate European aliyah. Despite the first reports reaching the U.S. during Shabbat afternoon, reactions were immediate and explosive (to say the least). Following are three letters - the first from JFNA to the Prime Minister; the second from The Jewish Agency to its board; the third, a response from eJewish Philanthropy to The Jewish Agency.   June 9, 2014 The Honorable Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister’s Office State of Israel 3 Kaplan Street Hakirya, Jerusalem 91919 Israel Dear Mr. Prime Minister, The aliyah and rescue of Jews has been the sacred responsibility of the Jewish Agency for Israel since … [Read more...]

Gov’t Establishes Independent Company for European Aliyah

In an unprecedented move, the Government of Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption have established an independent company to encourage aliyah from Europe. The company will initially be funded with NIS 100 million. According to YNet, "After 66 years in which the issue of immigration was handled by the Jewish Agency and other bodies, the government decided to take matters into its own hands and establish an independent company to encourage aliyah. The company will not have the same restrictions applied to government-owned corporations, and it will be able to operate freely in European countries. The company will include representatives from various national institutions (KKL-JNF, the Jewish Agency and the [World] Zionist Organization) and will be subject to terms set forth … [Read more...]

Live from Odessa

In Odessa, members of the local Jewish community learn about aliyah opportunities; photo by Roman Polonsky.

by Roman Polonsky My conversations with the Jews of Odessa are not encouraging: a cemetery desecrated, a Holocaust memorial in Nikolayev (a small town not far from Odessa) also desecrated; Molotov cocktails thrown at the synagogue in Nikolayev; graffiti on the walls saying “Jews and Muscovites, get out of Odessa.” A group of young Odessites, met our shaliach who wears a kipa, shouting “Zig Hail!” near our office. Society is now divided, split into opposing groups. Neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, son against father. The front line here runs in families. And Jews - Jews in trouble either way. ***** Odessa I am going to Odessa and my heart is beating heavily - I was born in the small Jewish town of Belgorod-Dnestrovsc, 70 km from here. Never, even in my worst nightmares, did I … [Read more...]

Live from Ukraine: View from the Edge

On May 11th, The Jewish Agency for Israel hosted a traditional celebration of Israeli Independence Day with the Jews of the city. Photo by Roman Polonsky.

The Jewish Agency's Roman Polonsky reports from Ukraine: “This is the calm before the storm,” many say. “What will we do in case of emergency? How will you save us?” My answer: This is the entire reason of my visit. It is why we increased the number of our shlichim in the area, and why we are doing all the work necessary to prepare for the worst. You are not alone; not only is The Jewish Agency with you, but all of Israel and the entire Jewish world. ********** It was not easy to reach Donetsk on the day of the referendum on the independence of Donetsk Republic. Yet somehow - miraculously - I managed to get a ticket and here I am on the way to Kiev, where on May 11th, The Jewish Agency, will host a traditional celebration (especially poignant this year) of Israel’s Independence Day with the … [Read more...]