GIDEON SA’AR at Jewish Agency 311.
(photo credit: Brian P. Hendler)
The Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors will vote Monday on whether to approve
the biggest change to the 81-year-old organization’s mission statement since
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The proposed plan seeks to expand the organization’s activities
from its traditional focus on aliya; it will now also promote Jewish education
and identity in Israel and the Diaspora.
The Board of Governors convened
at Jerusalem’s Inbal Hotel on Sunday for a series of meetings that will last
The board will be asked to okay the plan it already approved
in principle last June.
In a letter cosigned by the agency’s chairman
Natan Sharansky, Board of Governors chairman Richard Pearlstone and
directorgeneral Alan Hoffman, the three men explained how the agency decided on
its new mission goals.
“Over the past four months, we held a twoday
workshop with more than 50 of the Jewish Agency's top professional staff,
reviewed extensive research and conducted more than 30 personal interviews with
the strategic planning committee, as well as with our other partners and
funders,” they wrote. “At the same time, we have been engaging with the
government of Israel on these issues.”
In the letter, the strategic plan
cited five key components: cultivating activities for Jewish youth; connecting
Israel and Diaspora Jewry; bringing youth to Israel on trips and extended stays
through programs like Masa; strengthening Jewish identity in the Diaspora; and
aliya, the organization’s historical mainstay.
discussed these policy choices, the overriding consensus of the feedback we
received was that the [strategic] plan should encompass both people-building and
nation-building by using the two strategic drivers as described in the third
choice, with an emphasis on the younger generation,” they wrote.
constitutes the most significant redefinition of the Jewish Agency’s purpose
since the declaration of the state. When the agency was created in 1929, it
served as a quasi-governmental body for the Zionist movement. In 1948, with the
creation of Israel and its old role obsolete, it became an arm for bringing
immigrants to the Jewish state. However, with aliya steadily in decline in
recent years, the organization has realigned its mission once more; maintaining
its commitment to bringing olim while cultivating Jewish identity abroad.