JEREMY GIMPEL and Ari Abramowitz.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
American-born former Knesset candidates Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel did not end up making it into the parliament, but they will both be serving Israel and the Jewish people in new jobs.
The Atlanta-born Gimpel and the Texan Abramowitz made a name for themselves through their Israel advocacy via their website thelandofisrael.com, one of the largest video content providers from Israel internationally, which aimed to show the world the beauty of the Jewish state and its people.
They then ran for Knesset with Bayit Yehudi. Abramowitz dropped out midway through to help Gimpel, who won the 14th slot on the list of the party that won 12 seats in the January 22 election.
After licking their wounds from the election, Abramowitz and Gimpel both recently accepted high profile jobs with major Jewish organizations.
Gimpel will be vice chairman of World Mizrachi and Abramowitz director of Friends of Israel, a relatively new department in Keren Hayesod (United Israel Appeal) that reaches out to non-Jewish supporters of Israel around the world.
In his new job, Abramowitz regularly visits countries like the Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan for Keren Hayesod, the fundraising arm of the Zionist movement around the world.
He said the organization realized it was time for the mainstream Jewish establishment to proactively educate and inspire non-Jewish Israel supporters.
“Keren Hayesod rose to the occasion and answered the calling of the generation when it was formed in 1920 by draining the swamps in the land of Israel, founding El Al and facilitating aliya and absorption,” Abramowitz said. “Now they realized the calling of this generation is to help create allies around the world based on principles, ideals, and shared values. Israel is a light to the nations, and it’s time we start shining that light to the world.”
Abramowitz was familiar to Keren Hayesod from his Knesset campaign. As a rabbi with extensive experience working with non-Jews, he was a perfect fit.
While it will be odd for Abramowitz and Gimpel to work for different organizations, they both said their mission has remained the same even though they are currently in two different vehicles.
Gimpel aims to do to Mizrachi Olami, the international arm of the religious- Zionist movement, what Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett did to the former National Religious Party: Expand its reach and make it cool.
“My goal is to revitalize, rejuvenate and empower international religious Zionism,” Gimpel said. “I want to inspire people around the world and connect them emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually to the destiny of the Jewish people that is unfolding in the modern State of Israel.”
Gimpel intends to focus on young people who have been through the religious-Zionist Bnei Akiva youth movement and provide them with a forum for continuing to be full-fledged Zionists, even if they remain in the US and do not make aliya. He also wants to open Mizrachi to people who are not completely observant, like Bennett did with Bayit Yehudi.
“Even if aliya is not a current option, if they see themselves as part of the destiny of the Jewish people and they never lose sight of the goal, ultimately they will stay connected and so will their children,” Gimpel said of religious Zionists around the world.
Gimpel was brought to World Mizrachi by its veteran director-general Solly Sacks, who was familiar with him due to his Knesset run.
Gimpel’s campaign ended on a sour note, due to reports using video clips of him that were taken out of context, which made him look like an extremist who wanted to blow up the Temple Mount.
“Running for the Knesset was one of the best experiences of my life, because it enabled me to spread my positive message to so many people,” Gimpel said.
“The smear campaign at the end that portrayed me as an extremist in an effort to hurt my party was definitely tough.
But when you aim high and put yourself out there, you have to be ready to take a hit.”