(eJP note: this letter was received yesterday, after Shabbat began here in Israel; it is posted in full. Shavuah tov to all)

Dear Friends,

Articles appeared in today’s press concerning a proposed plan to close the Aliyah Department. We would like to emphasize that the Aliyah Department will not be closed. The Department’s mission, which is no less relevant and important today as it was in the past, and perhaps even more so today, will continue to be the spearhead of our actions.

Promoting aliyah is our top priority, as it has been for the 80 years of the Jewish Agency’s existence and especially since the establishment of the State of Israel.

In light of the changes that have occurred in the world over recent years, the Jewish Agency is obliged, as a dynamic organization – to deal with the current challenges facing us at this moment. It is our duty to renew ourselves, improve customer focus and apply up-to-date and relevant tools, means and modes of activity to achieve these challenges.

Due to an unanticipated decline of some $20 million in our budget for 2008, primarily due to the drop in the dollar value vis a vis the Shekel, the Jewish Agency has launched a process to examine structural changes in order to increase efficiency and impact.

The process also aims to better reflect and promote the main goals of the Jewish Agency in the coming years which include increasing the number of olim from Western countries, increasing the number of students from the Diaspora who come to Israel and strengthening partnership relationships between Israel and the Diaspora.

The entire process will involve extensive lay involvement and discussions with our partners and funders and ultimate approval by JAFI’s governing bodies, the Board of Governors and Executive.

Together with you, we shall strengthen the position of the Jewish Agency as a bridge between the Jewish world in the Diaspora and the State of Israel.

Sincerely,

Richie Pearlstone

Zeev Bielski

updated March 25th: Read how the Jewish Agency is reacting to the dollar’s fall in today’s JTA