Jewish Agency chairman finally voted in: Doron Almog

71-year-old Almog is the founder and chairman of ADI Negev Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village and is a recipient of the Israel Prize.

Doron Almog and Yaakov Hagoel (photo credit: THE JEWISH AGENCY)
Doron Almog and Yaakov Hagoel
(photo credit: THE JEWISH AGENCY)

Ex-IDF general Doron Almog was selected as the new chairman of the Jewish Agency on Thursday after the 93-year-old organization went a year without someone at the helm.

Almog, 71, is the founder and chairman of ADI Negev Nahalat Eran Rehabilitation Village (formerly ALEH Negev Nahalat Eran), which provides residential, medical and social services to the disabled.

He previously served as head of the IDF’s Southern Command, and was in charge of securing the border with the Gaza Strip. In 2005, Almog landed in London but was warned not to deplane after Israel learned that British police were waiting to arrest him based on a warrant issued over his previous command over IDF troops in the Gaza Strip. He stayed on the plane and returned to Israel.

The village he founded was named in memory of Almog’s late son, Eran.

“Fueled by his love for Eran, who was born with severe autism and intellectual disabilities, Almog guided the creation of an expansive residential and rehabilitative complex in Israel’s South that has become a home and family for more than 150 children and young adults with severe disabilities and complex medical conditions,” the ADI website says.

As chairman of ADI Negev-Nahalat Eran, Almog was a recipient of the 2016 Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and contributions to society and the state.

 The Israel Prize for lifetime achievement of 2016 seen awarded to Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin at the Israel prize ceremony held in the International Conference Center (ICC) in Jerusalem on May 12, 2016. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO) The Israel Prize for lifetime achievement of 2016 seen awarded to Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog by Israeli president Reuven Rivlin at the Israel prize ceremony held in the International Conference Center (ICC) in Jerusalem on May 12, 2016. (credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)

“The first lesson [my son] taught me was about love. I used to think love was about desire for a woman. But actually, it’s a commitment – a commitment to someone who is fully dependent on your power and your health, your goodwill and your daily actions.”

Doron Almog

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post in 2014, Almog said his social activist work was inspired by his late son, whom he referred to as his “professor.”

“The first lesson he taught me was about love,” said Almog. “I used to think love was about desire for a woman. But actually, it’s a commitment – a commitment to someone who is fully dependent on your power and your health, your goodwill and your daily actions.

“The second lesson was about ego. When you’re proud of your child, you’re really proud of yourself. If you have a child diagnosed with a severe disability, it’s a broken dream for the father and mother, and there is much shame. Shame and pride come from the same point.”

The Jewish Agency's search for leadership

The Jewish Agency has not had a full-time chairman since Isaac Herzog was elected president of Israel last June.

Almog’s selection by the committee will be approved in a meeting of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors in Jerusalem next month. Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization, has served as the interim chairman over the last year.

Reactions

“The Jewish Federations of North America congratulate Maj.-Gen. (res.) Doron Almog on his nomination today as the next chairman of the executive of our partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel,” said the Jewish Federations of North America. “We are very excited to begin partnering closely with Doron, a highly admired professional who has dedicated his life to the Jewish People, tikkun olam [repairing the world], and empowering the most vulnerable in Israeli society, values that our North American Jewish community deeply cherishes. We look forward to working with him to further these values and deepen the vibrant relationship between Israel and North American Jewry, and continue our sacred work of building flourishing Jewish communities around the world.”

Herzog also offered congratulations to “my friend, Doron Almog, winner of the Israel Prize, for his appointment as chairman for the Jewish Agency. This is a very important role that aims to connect the State of Israel to the Diaspora. I’m certain that his experience and his abilities will take this important organization far. Good luck!”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said that he was “very happy that Doron Almog was chosen to lead the Jewish Agency. Almog represents everything that’s good about Israel. Almog represents military and civil heroism, a deep love for the Israeli people, the country, and people in general. This is also why I was happy to be the one to award him with the Israel Prize [as Education minister]. I wish Doron great success in connecting the Jewish people to the State of Israel and raising Israel’s image in the world.” 

Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz noted that he has “known Doron Almog and his family since our childhood in Rishon Lezion. What a guy. After his prestigious route in the army, he started a village for people with special needs. A wonderful and special place. This year, as health minister, I had the honor of opening a hospital there with him.”

Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai said he was “looking forward to continuing to work together and promoting projects and ideas for the benefit of the entire Jewish people in Israel and in the Diaspora.”