Each of Us Can Make a Difference

An interview with Keren Hayesod chair Johanna Arbib Perugia.

from The Jerusalem Post:

Linking the chain of ‘Am Yisrael’

Johanna Arbib Perugia has two user names on the computer in her office in Rome, where she is a high-powered executive for a private equity fund investing in European real estate.

One is her Keren Hayesod user, the other is for her “regular job.” But it is the Keren Hayesod user that she always switches on first.

What is your biggest challenge as chair of Keren Hayesod?

I think the best answer to that is to be found in what frustrates me the most and what I would like to achieve the most. What frustrates me the most is knowing that around the world – and Keren Hayesod covers the world with the exception of the United States – philanthropy lately is very popular and that a lot of major philanthropists are Jews, yet we as a Jewish organization and even the Jewish Agency, our strategic partner, don’t get even 10 percent of that Jewish money. So the challenge for us over the next 10 years is to concentrate our efforts on trying to obtain 20% of the Jewish money going to philanthropic causes.

The message that I sell, for lack of a better term, is that people have to realize that giving to an organization like Keren Hayesod means that we are going to be here, that our children are going to have that strong identity that people who were born before Israel’s creation have, while people of my generation and the generations after me think is Israel is a given…

Our real strength is that today there is a State of Israel so we have a responsibility toward the State of Israel, and this message should be transmitted in a wide sense of the word. This is our challenge, to try to modernize Keren Hayesod in order to be able to obtain not only the money but also the involvement of important Jews who today are far from activity, community and Israel.