April 29, 2010
By Jacob Berkman
A strategic planning committee for the Jewish Agency officially approved Natan Sharansky’s plan to pursue refocusing the organization’s mission toward Jewish identity.
Sharansky presented his plan to a 28-member planning committee Wednesday night at the UJA Federation of New York. He will now flesh out the plan and bring it officially to the Jewish Agency’s next board of governors meetings in Jerusalem in June.
We sat down with Sharansky Tuesday and will have more on this in tomorrow’s Fundermentalist newsletter.
Here is the press release from the Jewish Agency:
Jewish Agency to focus its work on Jewish Identity
The strategic planning committee of the Jewish Agency approved in principle new strategic directions for the organization focusing on building Jewish identity of Jews around the world and in Israel.
The committee, which met Wednesday in New York, approved in principle a set of ideas which will be presented to the organization's Board of Governors for its discussion, input and approval at its upcoming meeting in Jerusalem in June. The meeting was attended by a senior advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Ron Dermer, underscoring the partnership and continued commitment to a shared vision between the Government of Israel and the Jewish Agency, to ensure the future of a connected, committed global Jewish people with a strong Israel at its center.
The plan calls for building Jewish identity of Jews around the world and in Israel by forging a strong connection to Israel, Jewish heritage and people. The plan also introduces recommendations for new initiatives of social activism in Israel, and calls for directly engaging young Israelis on issues of Jewish identity.
The document also envisions increasing the pool of potential aliyah from around the world by strengthening the connection of young Jews living abroad with Israel.
The committee reaffirmed the Jewish Agency's historic role as the Jewish People’s "Emergency First Responder," always ready to rescue Jews in distress and bring them to Israel as well as to assist Jews in crises both in Israel and throughout the Jewish world.
"In the past we didn’t need to create commitment to Israel or to the Jewish People – it was there in abundance," said Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky. "Today, as we are faced with weakening connections, our challenge is to increase the identification of Jews to their People and to Israel."
Sharansky added that the "DNA strength" of the Jewish Agency is its ability to foster Jewish identity through identification with Israel -- through its shlichim, educational programming, and Israel experiences.
"This plan will help us meet the challenges of Israel and the Jewish People face today," he said.