Jewish Agency Pulls Out of Netanyahu’s Diaspora Initiative

Happier times: Planning Summit for the "initiative" - Nov. 2013; (l-r) Harel Locker, Director-General PMO; Alan Hoffmann, Director-General Jewish Agency, Dvir Kahana, Director-General Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry; photo eJP archives.

By Or Kashti The heads of The Jewish Agency have told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they will no longer take part in a government initiative to strengthen ties between Israel and Diaspora Jews. In a letter sent to Netanyahu last week, Jewish Agency leaders criticized the conduct of the Diaspora Affairs Ministry, which is leading the initiative. On Friday Haaretz reported on a new program, under Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett, whose purpose is to address “the weakening of the Jewish foundations of the family unit” among Jews worldwide and “the significant increase in critical discourse against Israel.” About three months ago a new company, called the Initiative for the Future of the Jewish People, received special, accelerated approval to run the program. The … [Read more...]

Who is Rabbi Shteinman and Why Should The Jewish Agency’s Donors Be Concerned?

Rabbi Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman

The Jewish Agency, in violation of their own governance policies, is funding anti-Zionist and anti-government MASA programs. Sitting at the top of The Jewish Agency's governance structure, even above the Board of Governors, is the Assembly. Comprised of up to 518 members apportioned similarly to the Board, the Assembly (though meeting only annually) is the prime decider of overarching policy matters. Historically, their debates involved serious ideological and political issues relating to the nature of Zionism, the structure of the Jewish Agency, internal Israeli politics, the understanding of the Israel Diaspora relationship and more. Back in the mid-80's, the US Federation world (UIA, UJA, CJF) and Keren Hayesod leadership, charged with doing due diligence of the charitable funds they … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

1,000 French High School Seniors Arrive in Israel

photo by Avi Dodi

1,000 high school students from 25 Jewish schools across France have arrived in Israel for Bac Bleu Blanc ("Seniors in Blue and White"), a weeklong program run by The Jewish Agency for Israel with the support of Keren Hayesod. Bac Bleu Blanc is the largest program run by the schools in France to bring Jewish teenagers on educational experiences in Israel. Every school takes an active part in crafting its own individual touring program. More than 8,600 high school students from 25 schools have come to Israel since the program was launched eleven years ago. During their visit to Israel, the students will tour the country, meet with Israeli peers, and visit educational programs, institutions of higher education, high tech companies, and other sites. … [Read more...]

My Parents Are My Heroes: Ethiopian-Israeli Teens Connect with Their Heritage

A group of children at the synagogue in Gondar; photo courtesy Michal Shmulovich/Times of Israel.

by Benjamin Rutland exclusive to eJP As the bus bumped along the unpaved roads of Northern Ethiopia, the varied sounds of Ethiopian pop, American R&B and an occasional Israeli classic blared from the smartphones of the participants. The soundtrack reflected the multi-layered identities of the 15 outstanding Ethiopian-Israeli teens who participated in a roots tour of Ethiopia during Hannukah this year. I had the privilege to join the group as a representative o f The Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Hayesod in order to help document the experience. … [Read more...]