The Jewish Agency Pushes Forward

One thing is abundantly clear: the Jewish Federations’ partner organizations, including the JDC, the Jewish Agency and World ORT are not sitting still. All three are busy strengthening their North American infrastructure, making high-level hires and becoming more independent in their FRD approach. None of this bodes well for JFNA as a facilitator of overseas money, and more important for the future health of UIA.

A controversial thought for some of you JFNA folks? Perhaps. Feel free to comment. In the meantime, an excellent article from The Jerusalem Post‘s Haviv Rettig Gur:

Major Jewish Agency reform begins to take shape

One month after the Jewish Agency announced a new strategic process to rethink its purpose in the Jewish world, details are emerging of a plan to transform the ailing organization into a transnational educational platform whose task will be nothing short of reacquainting the fractured Jewish world with itself.

… The plan is still in its nascent form, officials say. In the Board of Governors meeting in Jerusalem next month, the leadership will examine and decide whether to accept the new plan, and will even be voting on a new mission statement for the organization. Once they have won the board’s approval for the broader strategy, agency staff will begin piecing together its nuts and bolts. A plan of action, with detailed programs, policies and budgets, will be presented for approval at the following Board of Governors meeting in October.

While officials were hesitant to go into details at such an early stage, some clear directions are already evident from discussions at various levels of the organization.

The agency will focus on straddling the gap between the world’s major Jewish communities. This includes a much larger effort to “partner” communities, such as with the Partnership 2000 program that connects Israeli towns with Diaspora communities …

But first and foremost, the agency’s plan will see a massive focus on developing new ways for Jewish youth worldwide to interact. “Programming that speaks to younger audience will have higher priority,” said one official. “The goal is to develop a continuum of engaging programming into the 30s for young people – with Israelis interacting with Diaspora [youth] and Diaspora with Israeli.”

Talk is rampant about upping the agency’s support for – and use of – the Taglit-birthright israel and Masa programs as platforms for new educational and identity programs.

Several officials spoke of a program that would bring together Israeli, American, European and other Jewish college-age youth on joint aid missions to Third-World countries.