The Federation System and Israel: Celebrating six decades of partnership

A timeline detailing how the federation has assisted Israel from 1948 to the present.

October 2, 2008 12:54
yitzhak rabin frontal posing 298 courtesy

Rabin 224.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

FIRST DECADE: A State is Born 1948 May 14, the 5th day of Iyar: Jewish representatives from all over Palestine meet in the Tel Aviv Museum, where David Ben-Gurion declares Israel's independence. Israel Defense Forces are founded with the state. In the first four months of independence, some 50,000 newcomers, mainly Holocaust survivors, reach Israel's shores thanks to funds raised by UJA Federation campaigns. David Ben-Gurion meets UJA Star of Hope Mission leaders on the first study mission to Europe and Israel. 1948-49 Through Operation Magic Carpet, the UJA Federation Campaign helps rescue more than 50,000 Yemenite Jews. Campaign funds also bring 125,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel on Operation Ezra. 1949 Chaim Weizmann becomes Israel's first president and calls on UJA to give new hope to those who are coming to Israel. Israel becomes a member of the United Nations. 1952 Settlement responsibility is allocated to the Jewish Agency by an act of Knesset, formalizing a role the agency had played since its establishment in 1929. 1956 Towards the end of the country's first decade, the output of its industry doubles, as does the number of employed persons; industrial exports increasing four-fold. The vast expansion of agriculture brings about self-sufficiency in the supply of all basic food products except meat and grains. Israel's school population quadruples. The need to integrate children from different cultural backgrounds, many of whom had been denied formal schooling in their countries of birth, presents an enormous challenge to the educational system. SECOND DECADE: Building a Nation Israel shifts its emphasis to its relations with the rest of the world. Exports double and the GNP increases some 10% annually. Extensive programs of cooperation, involving hundreds of Israeli physicians, engineers, teachers, agronomists, irrigation experts and youth organizers, share know-how and experience with developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 1958 In a tribute to UJA, David Ben-Gurion said, "I know of no greater purpose for which voluntary funds have been collected than the United Jewish Appeal." 1964 Israel Education Fund (IEF) is created as a supplementary UJA major gifts program to fund capital projects, social programs and scholarships in Israel. Since its founding, IEF has built more than 1,000 high schools, day care centers, senior citizens centers, libraries, sports facilities and regional colleges. 1965 A permanent home for the Knesset is built, and facilities for Hadassah Medical Center and Hebrew University are constructed. The Israel Museum is established to collect, conserve, study and exhibit the cultural and artistic treasures of the Jewish people. Novelist S.Y. Agnon wins the Nobel Prize in Literature. 1967 The Six-Day War marks a turning point for UJA, with American Jews raising more than ever before. THIRD DECADE: War and Peace 1973 The Yom Kippur War lasts 17 days and claims 2,523 lives. In economic terms, the war costs Israel a year's GNP. By the second half of 1974, the economy returns to the level of growth and industrial expansion of 1968-73. 1976 In Operation Jonathan, IDF commandos fly to Uganda and rescue over 100 hostages held on a hijacked plane in Entebbe. 1977 Prime Minister Menachem Begin invites leaders of Jordan, Egypt and Syria to meet with him and end the state of war. Only President Anwar Sadat of Egypt accepts the challenge and visits Jerusalem. Prime Minister Begin announces Project Renewal, a joint effort of the government and world Jewry toward social, economic and physical rehabilitation of disadvantaged neighborhoods throughout Israel. 1978 Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat join President Carter at Camp David and draft a peace agreement. Tourism increases; by the end of the country's third decade the annual number of visitors passes the one million mark. FOURTH DECADE: Meeting Challenges 1979 A peace treaty based on the Camp David Agreement is signed by Israel and Egypt but boycotted by most Arab states and the Palestinians. 1980 Technion-Israel Institute of Technology mechanical engineers develop a unique system for collecting solar energy at high temperatures. 1981 With Iraq's program to develop nuclear arms advancing, Israel launches a successful air attack, destroying the Iraqi Osirak nuclear reactor. 1982 The part of the Sinai occupied by Israel since 1967 is returned to Egypt. 1985 In Operation Moses, UJA Federation Campaign helps rescue 7,000 Ethiopian Jews. 1986 Soviet refusenik Natan Sharansky arrives in Israel; UJA joins 250,000 in a Washington Freedom Rally to pressure the USSR to free other Soviet Jews. 1987 A UIA Assembly resolution directs the Jewish Agency to support programs fostering religious pluralism in Israel. FIFTH DECADE: Ingathering of Exiles 1989 Israel presents a peace initiative calling for the termination of the state of war with the Arab states. Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev opens the doors to emigration, leading to the biggest exodus of Jewish people in modern history. UJA initiates Passage to Freedom, raising $46 million. 1990 Operation Exodus, which will become the largest emergency fund-raising event in Jewish history, is officially born. UJA funds help more than 185,200 reach freedom in the Jewish homeland. 1991 Saddam Hussein launches 39 scud missile attacks on Israel during the Gulf War. UJA brings many solidarity missions to Israel to affirm their unity with the Israeli people. The entire Jewish population of Albania, numbering some 300 families, is brought to Israel on Operation Flying Carpet. UJA National Chair calls it "a reminder of the importance of Israel to Jews everywhere." In Operation Solomon the Israeli Air Force flies 14,200 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in only 36 hours. Russia officially re-establishes diplomatic ties with Israel, 24 years after breaking them off. A Middle East peace conference convenes in Madrid with delegations from Israel, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan-Palestine. Almost 150,000 Jews immigrate from the FSU. 1992 A first-time UJA Women's Campaign $5,000-minimum mission to Turkey and Israel celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Lion of Judah pin. More than 65,000 Jews immigrate from the FSU. Following the civil war in Yugoslavia, Israel sends a plane with 13 tons of medicine and food to residents of the war-torn region. Yael Arad, 25, becomes the first Israeli to stand on the Olympic medal podium when she wins the silver medal in a Women's Judo competition in Barcelona. 1993 Israel and Palestine Liberation Organization sign a declaration of principles on Palestinian self-rule. After 11 months of secrecy, it is revealed that about 300 Jews from Yemen have been brought to Israel since August 1992, the first rescue of Yemenite Jews in more than 40 years. Jewish Agency's Department of Rural & Urban Development becomes operational. By 1994, the department is a leading force in creating Partnership 2000. 1994 Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat share the Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East. Prime Minister Rabin and Jordan's King Hussein sign the "Washington Declaration" toward ending a 46-year state of war. More than 500 participants on UJA President's Mission, traveling to Amman, Jordan, as ambassadors for peace, are received by King Hussein. JDC and the Sarajevo Jewish humanitarian organization rescue 2,300 people, including 1,000 members of the Jewish community; the Jewish Agency transports to Israel those wishing to make aliyah. Emigration of all but approximately 300 of Syria's Jews is completed and the JDC/Jewish Agency operations that sustained and then brought 3,656 Jews out of Syria since 1992 are made public for the first time. Partnership 2000 is launched to develop Israel's Negev, Galil and Jerusalem, create and enhance people-to-people relationships, and advance Jewish identity. Federations across North America form partnerships with towns and regions in Israel. 1995 November 4: Prime Minister Rabin is assassinated by an Israeli opposed to his peace initiatives. November 8: In the United States the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 becomes law, stating as U.S. policy that "Jerusalem should remain an undivided city... recognized as the capital of the State of Israel." Immigration from the FSU in 1995 totals more than 65,000. 1996 Thirty-one Chechen Jews arrive in Israel, bringing the number rescued to 330 and concluding a Jewish Agency rescue operation that began in 1994. Five hundred women representing 35 countries gather in Jerusalem for the first International Lion of Judah Conference. The inaugural King David Society Mission brings hundreds of leaders from Jewish federation communities to Israel. Immigration from the FSU in 1996 exceeds 58,900, bringing the total since 1989 to more than 658,000. Jewish Agency Chairman says, "As long as there are Jews who see Israel as the center of their public and private lives, Zionism is not over." Weizmann Institute mathematician Amir Pnueli wins the coveted Turing Prize for his work on verifying the accuracy and reliability of computer systems. Four young Israelis develop the technology for AOL Instant Messenger. 1999 United Jewish Communities (UJC) - the merger of the Council of Jewish Federations, United Israel Appeal, and United Jewish Appeal - is realized to represent and serve the North American federation system. SIXTH DECADE: Into the Future 2000 Taglit-birthright israel brings its first group of young Jewish adults to Israel. founded by Charles Bronfman and Michael Steinhardt, and a partnership of the Government of Israel, private philanthropists and Jewish communities around the world (UJC, the Jewish Agency, Keren Hayesod), Taglit offers Jews ages 18-26 a free 10-day tour of the Jewish state. By summer 2007, some 120,000 young people have received the gift of a birthright trip. 2001 The Ethiopian National Project (ENP), a partnership between UJC, the Jewish Agency, JDC, the government of Israel and the Ethiopian-Israeli community, is launched to facilitate the successful absorption of Ethiopian immigrants in all spheres of Israeli society. 2002 In response to relentless terror, UJC and the Federations of North America launch the Israel Emergency Campaign, raising hundreds of millions of dollars for critical needs including security, life-saving medical equipment, and financial help and trauma relief for terror victims. 2003 For the second time in history, the UJC General Assembly is held in Jerusalem. "I am very proud to be a part of this event that comes on the heels of three difficult years for the people of Israel," says the GA's Israel chair. "The influx of so many American Jews underscores as never before the deep partnership between Israel and North American Jewry." MASA is launched to encourage Jewish youth to spend a semester or a year in Israel and help them build a life-long relationship with Israel and a firm commitment to Jewish life. Partnering in this groundbreaking project are the Government of Israel, the Jewish Agency for Israel, UJC / The Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod around the world. 2004 Israelis Aaron Ciechanover and Avram Hershko of the Technion share the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Irwin Rose of the University of California. 2005 UJC and the Federations of North America undertake Operation Promise, an ambitious effort to raise millions of dollars to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel, help mainstream the Ethiopian-Israeli community, feed poor, elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union and strengthen Jewish identity among young Jews there. Robert Aumann of Hebrew University shares the Nobel Prize in Economics with Thomas Schelling of the University of Maryland. 2006 In response to the war in Lebanon, UJC and the Federations of North America launch a second Israel Emergency Campaign, which provides trauma counseling, enrichment programs, and economic assistance to Israeli children and adults affected by the war. IEC continues to help vulnerable Israelis, including those on the front lines against Kassam rockets launched from Gaza. UJC helps found Sheatufim: The Israel Center for Civil Society, which works to strengthen the social vitality of Israel by developing and advancing a civil society that is pluralistic, proactive, influential, professional and collaborative. Other founding partners are Zionism 2000, the Sacta-Rashi Foundation and the Gandyr Foundation. For a digital version of this timeline and many additional federation resources for Israel @ 60 visit: For Israel @ 60 consultation contact: Norm Goldstein UJC Israel @ 60 Chair 301-593-5784 Gabe Most UJC Israel @ 60 lead staff 212-284-6629 Eric Bell UJC/JCPA Israel Advocacy Initiative Israel at 60 Committee Chair Amos Kamil UJC/JCPA Israel Advocacy Initiative Director 212-684-6953 Jessica Horne UJC/JCPA Israel Advocacy Initiative Outreach Coordinator 212-684-9713

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