Jewish Agency emissaries to be trained as Diaspora emissaries in Israel

The initiative is designed to help improve Israel - Diaspora relations and deepen understanding of Israelis of Jews around the world

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July 16, 2019 05:17
2 minute read.
Jewish Agency emissaries to be trained as Diaspora emissaries in Israel

Jewish Agency Shlichim participating in the Israel Day Parade in New York in 2018. (photo credit: RAPHAEL RICE)

The Jewish Agency, together with the Ruderman Foundation, will train 20 Agency emissaries returning from their postings abroad to serve in Israel as ambassadors for the Diaspora.

The initiative is designed to help deepen Israelis’ understanding of their Jewish brethren around the world – and the US in particular – and help bridge divides and tensions that have developed over recent years.

The Jewish Agency sends around 2,000 young Israelis to communities around the world every year to strengthen their connection to Israel, and emissaries returning to Israel will be able to join the new initiative.

In groups on university campuses in Israel, some 20 returning emissaries will participate in a year-long course and receive professional guidance and financial assistance to promote projects that deal with strengthening connections and deepening Israelis’ understanding of Diaspora Jews in general, and the American Jewish community in particular.

The project will cost NIS 200,000 per year.

In the first semester of the project, participants will be given training in developing projects, marketing and fund-raising, and in the second semester will establish, with professional assistance, a group project to connect in some way between Israel and the Diaspora.
The initiative will also make available financial grants for developing new projects, while a strategic forum of former emissaries will develop measures to change public discourse in Israel about Diaspora Jewry.

“There is much ignorance in Israel about Jewish life overseas,” said Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog. “The shluchim [emissaries] are a powerful tool for spreading the message about our sisters and brothers in the Diaspora. Overseas Jewry is a strategic asset for Israel… Through this initiative, the shluchim will continue their service even after they return to Israel, and will act to strengthen the standing of overseas communities among Israelis… [become] agents of change in Israeli society, and serve as bridges between Israel and Jewish communities overseas.”

Shira Ruderman, director of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said that it was “imperative” to preserve the connection between Israel and the Diaspora for both “moral” and “security reasons,” and that the new program would help do so.

“In recent years we have witnessed serious challenges between the two sides, and it is up to us to change the discourse and the direction,” said Ruderman. “Israelis who were shluchim and then returned to Israel are a tremendous force. Together we can transform them into an army of social change that will connect Israel to American Jews. With their help, I hope we will bring the dialogue from a place of crisis to one of positivity and construction.”


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