#17 Natan Sharansky - The Diaspora’s peacemaker in Israel

Master chess-player and current leader of the Jewish Agency aims to bring Diaspora Jews and Israel even closer - Natan Sharansky.

September 20, 2017 13:40
#17 Natan Sharansky - The Diaspora’s peacemaker in Israel

Natan Sharansky . (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analysis from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


In a year when relations between Diaspora Jewry and Israel reached a new low, longtime Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky was a vital player in attempting to mediate. Issues of religious pluralism caused particular strife, with government decisions on an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall and on conversion angering many liberal Jews.

Sharansky had told The Jerusalem Post last year that he intended to step down from his role as Jewish Agency chairman, but upon the request of the board of governors agreed to extend his term in order to see through unresolved issues pertaining to the various religious Jewish streams.

Sharansky spearheaded the agreement to create a state-recognized pluralistic prayer section at the southern end of the Western Wall, and was blindsided by the government’s June decision to cancel it. The controversial decision was announced the same day the government decided to advance a contentious conversion bill that would grant the Chief Rabbinate a total monopoly over conversions in Israel.

It remains to be seen whether Sharansky can help bridge the differences between the ultra-Orthodox-influenced Israeli government and the pluralistic sensitivities of US and other Diaspora Jewry. While he may not have won that fight – or at least not yet – he has recently reached a number of other achievements which he takes pride in.

Among them is the shift the agency took under his helm to focus on Jewish identity and not just aliya. It currently deploys 89 emissaries on campuses across the US, and that number is expected to continue to grow.

However, his life quest for the past 45 years – to connect between Israel and world Jewry – has hit bumps in the road.

Sharansky, though, is a man accustomed to challenges. A former Soviet refusenik imprisoned for nine years, a veteran of Israeli politics, and a world-class chess player, Sharansky, as he sees out his ninth and apparently final year as agency chief, is always mulling the next move.

He previously told the Post that he intends to invest in educating Israelis about the importance of the Diaspora and the need for more engagement between Jews in Israel and Jews around the world.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

A vendor at the neo-Nazi celebration of Hitler's birthday in eastern Germany
June 26, 2019
German town buys up beer supply to ‘dry Nazis out’ ahead of concert


Cookie Settings