June 2011, Newsletter #23
Assembly and Board of Governors Meetings – June 2011
The theme of this year’s Assembly is "Inspire-Connect-Empower," borrowing from the Jewish Agency’s new mission statement.
Among those appearing at the Assembly are the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Assembly this year will include a brand new format of roundtable discussions addressing important Jewish issues, such as the next generation of Jewish leadership, what we mean when we talk about the Jewish future, and the delegitimization of Israel. Highlights will include a guided tour and reception for Assembly members at the newly renovated Israel Museum; a Journalists Panel on the emerging Middle East, moderated by Dana Weiss, with Khaled Abu Toameh, Ron Ben-Yishai, and Smadar Peri; and the Max Fisher Prize for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, which will be awarded at the Assembly Closing Luncheon.
The Board of Governors Meetings will commence on Tuesday, June 28th, and will conclude on Thursday, June 30th. Of the central events taking place during the Board of Governors Meeting: A Global Jewish Forum, where discussions on Global Jewish Issues will be held, and a Farewell Dinner marking the end of my term as Chair of the Board of Governors. I wish all of us good luck as we open a new page going forward with the new committees of the Board of Governors. I am confident that, as in recent years, the Assembly and Board of Governors meetings will be exciting gatherings of world Jewish solidarity with Israel, as well as forums for stimulating discussions on global Jewish issues. I look forward to seeing you in Jerusalem.
Israel’s Presidential Conference 'Facing Tomorrow'
The annual global conference initiated in 2008 by President Shimon Peres will be held for the third time on June 21-23, at the Jewish Agency’s International Convention Center in Jerusalem. The Conference will be attended by approximately 4,000 people from around the world, including some 1,700 participants from outside of Israel. During the two and a half days, 200 of the world’s best minds will fill the Conference’s plenary sessions and a remarkably diverse array of panels, dedicated to designing a better tomorrow. The crucial decisions that will make the difference stand at the heart of the 2011 Israeli Presidential Conference. The 2011 Conference will focus on the vital issues, initiatives and decisions that must be implemented today in order to guarantee a better tomorrow for the world, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel. This year, the Jewish Agency is once again an active partner in organizing the President's Conference and it is a privilege for us to continue to partner with President Peres in this exciting endeavor. Holding the President's Conference a few days before the Board of Governors meetings will allow maximum participation of our leadership and members of the Board in the conference, and I look forward to seeing you there.
The Keshet Coalition
One of the major pillars of our new vision and strategy is for Partnership 2000 to be an international platform for engagement. In defining what this means, we have developed a work plan which focuses on creating strategic relationships with other international Jewish organizations. Our dialogue, which began with the Israel office of the Jewish Community Center of America (JCCA), has now grown into a major initiative called “Keshet” (Rainbow). The “Keshet” Coalition is a new model of cooperation among six leading national and international organizations: Partnership 2000, JCCA, World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers (WCJCC), Hevra L’Matnasim (Community Center Association in Israel), Beit Hatfutsot, and The Reut Institute.
While Partnership 2000 enjoys different levels of cooperation with all of these organizations, Keshet AGAIN is designed to take these relations to a new level – creating a common language and vision, identify mutual goals and expand collaboration. On March 16th, “Keshet” Coalition held its first day-long seminar to bring together the professional staff and volunteers so that they could deepen their relationships and begin molding a common vision. This seminar marked an ongoing process that was followed by a special session at the JCCA Assembly in Orlando (April) and then an international “Keshet” gathering in the Fall at Beit Hatfutsot. To help lead the process, a volunteer steering committee is now being established.
A Boarding School for Refugee Youth in Nitzana Educational Community in the Negev
In collaboration with the Ministry of Education, a boarding house and a school are being built in Nitzana for 50 young refugees around the ages of 14-16, who arrived without parents or relatives in Israel. Most of the kids originate from Eritrea and Darfur (Sudan), speak Tigrit or Arabic, are Muslim, Christian, or pagan, and arrived in Israel after a traumatic journey which often include abuse and many injuries. Most refugees are put in boarding schools and for the first time it was decided by the Ministry of Education to establish a unique framework for them; and Nitzana was chosen as the pilot. The entire project is supervised by the UN. All kids will study in a Hebrew Ulpan in school, in addition to basic studies such as Mathematics, English and Computers. Later, professional training course and other basic studies will be offered. In parallel, as a part of the professional training, the village is interested in integrating the kids in a variety of “local” jobs in order to give them practical tools for integrating, and the ability to survive independently.
During its 15 years of activity, The Nitzanim Course for Educators’ main contribution has been to build quality educational leadership for the wide variety of organizations and frameworks dealing with Jewish education in Israel and throughout the world. Alongside the new Jewish Agency Strategic direction in the area of social activism, this year Nitzanim will try to connect to the returning Shlichim population, using them as a resource and a leading force in managing the conversation on Jewish identity for Israelis. In May this year, 15 participants in Nitzanim, who are mostly returning Shlichim, left for a short five-day journey of educational and voluntary activity in Ethiopia. “Nitzanim in Ethiopia” is a fine example of inter-organizational cooperation, facilitating synergy between the complex relationships that join Jewish identity, Tikkun Olam, Zionism and Israeli society.