Diaspora youngsters enjoy a Birthright Israel trip to the Jewish state..
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The cabinet on Sunday announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at strengthening ties between the State of Israel and Diaspora Jewry, in the form of an annual week dedicated to the latter. It said the decision was made in light of “the many, complex challenges shared by the Jewish nation in Israel and the world.”
The week-long initiative will be held for the first time in December, bringing hundreds of students from around the world to Israel to participate in a dialogue about Jewish identity and tradition, and their connection to Israel. The project will see encounters between students from some 300 “sister schools” from a range of countries, together with representatives of international Jewish organizations and youth movements.
The Education Ministry noted that most Israelis are familiar only with US Jewry, and it strives to broaden their knowledge of other Jewish communities. “We want to increase awareness that the Jewish nation isn’t just made up of Israelis,” the ministry emphasized.
The Knesset will also hold a day of discussions on these subjects, in addition to a special event for Diaspora Jewry, in a format to be decided upon by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
“The State of Israel belongs to every Jew in the world,” said Diaspora and Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
“World Jewry played a major part in the founding and prosperity of the State of Israel, and their connection to Israel and to their Jewish identity is of strategic importance.”
The initiative seeks to deepen Israelis’ recognition of the Diaspora’s importance to the continued existence of the Jewish people.
“Our ability to influence the future of the Jewish nation is via the creation and deepening of a dialogue between Jews living in Israel and their Jewish brothers and sisters living in countries around the world,” Bennett added. “It is therefore important to increase and deepen awareness among citizens of Israel on the subject, which will be reflected during this week to connect world Jewry.”
The ministry hopes the week will inspire Israelis to increase efforts to work together with Diaspora Jews on issues that affect them.
Issues to be tackled will include how Diaspora Jews can maintain their Jewish identities in their societies, what responsibilities Israelis have for them, and in what ways they can undertake these duties.