Zeev Bielski appeared yesterday before the Knesset's Aliyah and Absorption committee for the first time since assuming the position of Jewish Agency Chairman. Arieh Azoulay, Chairman of the Jewish Agency's Aliyah and Absorption Committee, and Moshe Vigdor, Jewish Agency Director-General, also participated in the meeting.
"For the first time in 5 years there is a rise in aliyah and this year will see more new immigrants than last year. We expect approximately 23,000-24,000 new immigrants this year, thanks to the rise in aliyah from France and North America. Nevertheless, close to 80% of North American Jews have never been to Israel, not even for a visit. That is why the Jewish Agency is stressing two projects: "Taglit"-"birthright israel", which has brought around 80,000 young people to Israel for a short visit and "MASA"-"Israel Journey" which aims at bringing 20,000 young people a year to Israel for long-term programs.
In the framework of Jewish Agency activities, we see today more and more Israelis who are willing to volunteer and give of their time and money. Most of them are involved in projects dealing with closing the social gaps. In this area, the Jewish Agency is launching a new 60 million dollar project named "Youth Futures". The project plans to create "young communities" which will educate thousands of children and youths at risk in Israel's peripheral areas.
The Jewish Agency also intends in expanding its efforts to mobilize volunteers to assist new immigrants. For this purpose we recently launched the "At Home Together" project which has already attracted thousands of volunteers, even more volunteers than new immigrants. We intend to continue this activity, focusing on the Ethiopian community together with the Ministry of Absorption, since data shows that close to 70% of them are beneath the poverty line.
As policy, the Jewish Agency is moving towards activities which involve cooperation with other bodies such as the educational initiatives of Lev Leviev in Russia".
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The Jewish Agency for Israel