The Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel, which is comprised of the representatives of Jewish organizations from around the world, today (19.2) unanimously elected Natan Sharansky for a second term as Chairperson of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Deputy Chairperson of the Executive Rany Trainin was also elected for an additional term.
Yesterday (18.2), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Board of Governors to appoint Natan Sharansky to a second term. The Prime Minister told the Board of Governors that “Natan has always been a symbol of Jewish unity and a symbol of the triumph of the Jewish people over adversity. In all the years I've known you, you've been much more than a symbol, you've also worked tirelessly to promote Jewish unity and to secure the Jewish future.”
Natan Sharansky, a former dissident was incarcerated for nine years in the Soviet Union. After his release in 1986 he immigrated to Israel where he was reunited with his wife Avital. He served as a member of the Knesset for nine years and as Industry and Trade Minister, Interior Minister, Housing and Construction Minister, Jerusalem Affairs Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. After leaving political life he was elected as Chairperson of The Jewish Agency for Israel in 2009.
During his first term as Jewish Agency Sharansky presided over the adoption and implementation of a new Strategic Plan and a major restructuring to enhance efficiency and meet current requirements. In addition, Jewish Agency International Development (JAID) was established to expand the Jewish agency’s fundraising capabilities. Sharansky also oversaw the improved cooperation between the government of Israel and the Jewish Agency, and increases in the level of financial support by the government for programs connecting Israel and the Diaspora. In December, Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Sharansky to study the current situation at the Wall and to offer recommendations to the government on how to make the site more accommodating to all Jews.
Over the past four years the Jewish Agency has engaged in a major expansion of existing programs including: major increases in the number of shlichim to campuses (Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel), increases in the number of long term and short term shlichim (with a focus on younger shlichim), targeted Birthright groups (eg. Russians), Masa Israel, Youth Futures, Ulpan Etzion, and an expansion of public housing for senior citizens (through Amigur) amongst many others.
In addition new programs have been created including: Onward, Project T.E.N., a range of programs for Russian speakers all over the globe (Europe, US, Australia), new programs for a year of volunteer service (shnat sherut) prior to army service (targeted at people from weaker socio-economic background), amongst many other programs. The Jewish Agency is also in the final stages of Operation Dove’s Wings to bring the remainder of Ethiopian Jewry to Israel.
Sharansky said after the election: “Friends, each time I want to feel energized I meet with participants of our Masa Israel program, new olim studying at Ulpan Etzion or our amazing shlichim and I know that idealism is still very alive. I want to say thank you to you.”
For additional information please contact Benjamin Rutland, Spokesperson to the Foreign and English Language Media on 0526091099