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

poker

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...]

Fear in a Library, then Aliyah to Israel

photo by Nathan Roie

The Balaban family of Gorlovka, Ukraine, fled their home after Olga's workplace was shelled. Now adjusting to their new home in Haifa, they look back at the home they left, and forward to the lives they hope to build here. By Nathan Roie Olga Balaban, 56, had just 10 months to go until she could retire from her job as a librarian at the medical school in her hometown of Gorlovka, in Eastern Ukraine, where she had lived her entire life. Other than the fact that her husband suffers from a disability that complicates his daily life, things were good: she was surrounded by books, her son Andrei, 25, was working successfully as a computer programmer, and her older son, Roman, lived in Israel with his wife and two daughters. Olga was content. She, her husband, and Andrei were thinking … [Read more...]

A Conversation With Chaim Chesler

Meeting with President Shimon Peres; (l-r) Matthew Bronfman, Shimon Peres, Aaron Frenkel, Chaim Chesler, Sandra Cahn; courtesy Chaim Chesler.

[With the fall Limmud FSU schedule in full swing, Asher Weill sat with Chaim Chesler - a long-time advocate for Soviet Jewry and Founder of Limmud FSU. In 2006, together with Sandra Cahn (US) and Mikhail Chlenov (Russia), Chaim founded Limmud FSU and chairs its Executive Committee. As executive director of the Israel Public Council for Soviet Jewry, he worked in Israel and around the globe to raise awareness of the struggle of Soviet Jews and their right to repatriate to Israel. Chesler headed The Jewish Agency for Israel’s delegation to the former Soviet Union and the United States, and served as treasurer of The Jewish Agency.] My mother came to pre-State Palestine from Bialystok in Poland in 1933, my father also managed to get out just in time in 1938, but most of their families did not. … [Read more...]

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...]