The Jewish Agency will cease funding “long-term” absorption of olim in Israel by
2014 and focus on fostering Jewish identity and encouraging aliya instead, it
was announced on Sunday.
The government decided to assume the agency’s
longtime commitments to both the Student Authority, a group that provides
newcomers to Israel with free university education, and ulpan, a network of
language schools that teaches olim Hebrew – freeing up an estimated NIS 20
“What’s important is that the the government recognizes that
long-term investment is their burden,” said Jewish Agency spokesman Ofer Lefler.
“We’re bringing more people to Israel and are continuing our commitments to
other projects like aliya centers, but the important matter is that the
government is taking responsibility for long-term absorption.”
will continue to partially fund the Student Authority’s NIS 68.5m. budget next
year to the tune of NIS 6.5m., but will be phased out by 2014. The entity will
then be entirely funded by the government through the Immigrant Absorption
Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Jewish Agency’s newly
available resources will be reinvested to fulfill goals spelled out by the
organization’s strategic plan from three years ago, which focuses on
strengthening Jewish identity in the Diaspora. The group believes that
investment in bolstering “Jewish peoplehood” through education will eventually
help bring more olim to the country.
Some critics, however, have said
this approach moves the organization away from its traditional role of
facilitating Jewish immigration to Israel – into areas where it is not needed or
has no experience.
Agency chairman Nathan Sharansky said: “We committed
ourselves to the Jewish people and continue to follow the path set out by David
Ben-Gurion and the fulfillment of the Jewish and Zionist vision by strengthening