Jewish Agency to Launch The Prime Minister’s Initiative; Budget – $300 million/year

Over the past few months, a joint team from the Prime Minister’s Office and The Jewish Agency’s senior planning staff have worked to articulate a conceptual framework for the dramatic expansion of efforts to fortify young Jews’ connections to Israel. The framework, called The Prime Minister’s Initiative, centers on four elements – Israel Education, Israel Experiences, Israel Engagement on College Campus and Aliyah of Young Adults – and reflects priorities common to The Jewish Agency and many Jewish communal institutions and philanthropists around the world. Accordingly, the Prime Minister tasked Natan Sharansky to spearhead efforts to engage Jewish philanthropists, community leaders, foundations and organizations to provide leadership for this joint venture between the State of Israel and the Jewish People.

In June, a select group of lead philanthropists from around the world met with the Prime Minister, providing a strong indication that the agenda and broad approach is well-positioned to secure essential support from individual and institutional Jewish funders on the basis of a private-public partnership with the Government of Israel. It is also quite evident that the funding community must be at the table as the Initiative is defined so that it reflects the shared visions but also the unique perspectives of all of those who are asked to invest.

It is toward that end that The Jewish Agency will convene senior Government representatives, leading Jewish organizations, thinkers, foundations and private funders on October 1-2, 2013 in Jerusalem. The Agency envisions policy tables in the four suggested program areas to define strategies and select pilot programs for the first year. Going forward, the policy tables will oversee the pilots and help in formulating the expansion of the Initiative.

Strategies and Goals

The four elements of the Prime Minister’s Initiative cluster around the notions of bringing Israel to Jews and Jews to Israel. During the planning process, stakeholders will consider both the elements to be included for implementation as well as goals for each. As a starting point, the joint team from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency suggested:

Bringing Israel into the lives of young Jews around the world

  • Israel education embedded in Jewish institutions – through the training of 2,000 local educators each year and the placement of young Israeli emissaries in 1,000 Jewish institutions;
  • Strengthening Israel’s presence and standing on college campuses through the formation of a global network of 150 Israel Engaged Campuses with strong Israel related content in both formal and informal frameworks

Bringing more young Jews to experience Israel

  • Educational experiences in Israel – increasing the number of participants in immersive experiences in Israel from current level of 68,000 to 100,000 annually, with an emphasis on travel before and during college and through return visits;
  • Special initiative for the Aliyah of young professionals and young families through incentives and new frameworks to double the number from current level of 4,500 to 10,000 annually


In order for the Initiative to be transformative, it must be of scale. The intention is to build the Initiative from $30 million in 2014 to $300 million annually within five years. As a private-public partnership, The Jewish Agency envisions that the Government of Israel will provide one-third of the funding, with the balance funded by private sources within the global Jewish community. Private sector funding will encompass a range of philanthropy including institutional, individual, and foundation grants, as well as investments by program partners (e.g., JCCs, campus organizations, educational institutions, etc.) and individual participant fees. Thus, donors and funding institutions will find themselves leveraging Government resources, other philanthropic sources, and the consumer marketplace. Every program or activity will need to be designed with a sustainable funding model, recognizing that no one formula will be successful across the range of activities.