For Diaspora Affairs and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli, the priority of his tenure is clear: strengthening Jewish education in Jewish communities across the world, with a particular focus on North America.
According to Chikli, Jewish education is the silver bullet not only to reinforce Israel-Diaspora ties, but ultimately also to fight other dangerous phenomena, such as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. In his view, the lack of confidence in their own Jewish identity of many American Jews is directly related to the short triumphs of BDS.
For this reason, last month his ministry announced that it would invest NIS 150 million ($40 million) to establish a new project to back Jewish education in North America, called “Aleph Bet.”
For the past few months, Chickly and ministry officials have been meeting relevant stakeholders, community leaders and experts to better understand their needs. The conclusion: the priorities are supporting local educators and expanding the number of children in Jewish day schools.
The program will prioritise local educators and Jewish day schools
“There is a major crisis in Jewish education in North America, outside of the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox communities,” Chikli said last month. “The Aleph Bet project will be focused on schools in North America with a focus on training teachers for Jewish education and Israel studies as well as principals for Jewish day schools.”
The project was called Aleph Bet (the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet) to suggest the idea that it is imperative to prioritize teaching the foundations of Jewish identity. According to Chikli, strengthening local Jewish educators represents the tool that will have the deepest long-lasting impact.
“We are losing large parts of the Jewish people,” the minister said, noting that children who do not attend Jewish day schools tend to assimilate more frequently later in life.
“We are in the midst of a crisis where it is possible to lose an entire generation of Jews,” he added. “We will be all over this issue in the next coming years.”
Diaspora Affairs and Social Equality Minister Amichai Chikli will take part in the Jerusalem Post Annual Conference in New York on June 5. For more information - www.jpost.com/AC23