Jewish Agency chair Natan Sharansky spoke Sunday morning a his organization's Board of Governors meeting in Tel Aviv, touting the group's outreach and efforts to combat bureaucratic hurdles to aliya.

The group's Board of Governors convened in Tel Aviv for the first time ever. The meeting began with a moment of silence in memory of Yitzhak Rabin, murdered 17 years ago to the day.

"During the last presidential debate, Israel was mentioned more times than all other countries combined," Sharanksy said, emphasizing the role his organization has played in making Israel an important issue in the United States. "Israel will continue being important to the world only so long as it is important to the Jewish people. That's our mission."

"We have piloted incredible new programs," Sharansky said, citing Taglit and Birthright tracks, and the organizations emissary program.

On the sputtering immigration levels, Sharansky said: "I cannot blame any one organization for failing to bring more olim from the free world. It will come of ongoing connection."

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