It's time to elect a Jewish Agency chairperson - opinion

The choosing of a new Jewish Agency leader is a historic decision.

 PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG, then as incoming Jewish Agency chairman, stands with then-outgoing Agency leader Natan Sharansky at the board of governors conference in Jerusalem in 2018. (photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)
PRESIDENT ISAAC HERZOG, then as incoming Jewish Agency chairman, stands with then-outgoing Agency leader Natan Sharansky at the board of governors conference in Jerusalem in 2018.
(photo credit: HADAS PARUSH/FLASH90)

This Sunday, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Jewish community will proudly open its doors to an important delegation of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors. I believe the organization’s leaders will be astounded at the transformation that has occurred since the signing of the peace agreements two years ago. What was once a small minimally connected group of people, has now become a much larger integrated family. We have held our first Jewish wedding and bar mitzvah, which were momentous occasions, and we continue to learn and prosper together side by side with our Arab brothers and sisters.

While our thriving community in the UAE pursues unity with each other and with our neighbors, the Jewish community in the rest of the world encounters many hurdles. Indeed, the challenges faced internationally by the Jewish communities around the world are greater than ever before. Antisemitic attacks are the highest they have been in a decade. It is evident that we must urgently unite to combat antisemitism. One way to help on that front is to come together and choose a new chairman for the Jewish Agency that will unite and lead World Jewry.

For over eight months, the decision to appoint a commander-in-chief has stalled and this not only leaves the largest Jewish organization leaderless, it sends a message of indifference to the diaspora. I understand that there are many differences of opinion within the selection committee’s decision-making process, but when it comes to the Jewish people and the Jewish Agency itself, we cannot allow for there to be a Left or Right, a coalition or an opposition. We need to overcome all these obstacles. It is time to elect a leader that can help our global Jewish communities and take the Jewish Agency forward.

The choosing of a new Jewish Agency leader is a historic decision. This individual will represent the thousands of new olim and millions more Jews around the world. This person will be the one who continues to build our global community, engage and educate, and promote Jewish identity, and this is just the start. The list of candidates is respectable, and includes leaders with extensive experience and a deep-rooted understanding of Jewish communities. The selection committee must take on this challenge and reach a decision. Not doing so under the current circumstances is both unjust and neglectful.

The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)The Jewish Agency headquarters in Jerusalem (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

I am confident that the Jewish Agency delegation will be impressed with the UAE on their visit this Sunday, and with the diversity and tolerance they see and hear from their meetings while they are here. I will be honored to welcome the delegation and I very much hope that they realize that although we are just a small community, we speak for many when we say that the time is now for the Jewish Agency to choose their future leader.

The writer is the senior rabbi of the Jewish Council of the UAE, rabbi of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities and chairman of the Council of Sephardic Sages.