NewsBits: The JAFI Board Meeting


Is Natan Sharansky Jewish Agency’s last, best hope?

Fresh in his post as chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Natan Sharansky stood before the organization’s leaders in the same dimly lit Jerusalem hotel ballroom where they have been gathering for years and offered up the promise of his star power and vision to help save the day.

Eschewing the usual talk of the agency’s flailing budget, which is now in a deeper crisis than ever, the former Soviet dissident and Jewish world hero spoke instead of returning to the Jewish Agency’s ideological roots of aliyah and Jewish identity, and reinvigorating the Diaspora-Israel divide.

But in order to meet these lofty goals, Sharansky first must meet another challenge: the drastic downturn in funding from the Jewish Federations of North America (formerly the United Jewish Communities), which has had an especially crippling effect on the agency’s work in the former Soviet Union.

His main effort on that front, Sharansky told JTA, would be fund raising intensively among Russian-speaking Jews.

from The Jerusalem Post:

Sharansky vows not to cut JA budget

This week’s Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem is the first in many years that won’t be discussing significant cuts to the organization’s budget.

In an effort to refocus the organization away from its shrinking financial base and to bolster the sense of mission among its educators and activists, agency chairman Natan Sharansky has vowed not to make any new budget cuts in 2010.

… Sharansky also announced the mobilization of a major new outreach project to overseas university campuses with large numbers of Jews at the Board of Governors meeting on Monday. The program, which will send some 100 emissaries over the next two years to campuses in North America, where some 80 percent of Diaspora Jews live, reflects the central Jewish Agency mission of “strengthening the ties between Diaspora Jews and the State of Israel.”