October 19, 2006 / 27 Tishrei 5767
In the past few days, we – Chairperson of the Board of Governors Carole Solomon and myself – sent a letter to members of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency. I would like to share the main points of the letter with you, friends of the organization in Israel and around the world, which reads as follows:
“Since the kidnapping of three IDF soldiers – Gilad Shalit, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev – Israelis, like many in world Jewry, have followed the efforts of the soldiers’ families to achieve their release and bring them home. Our thoughts are with the hostages and their families who are going through the most difficult period of their lives, and we all pray that this ends quickly and they all come home to Israel soon.
The Jewish Agency has taken upon itself to stay in constant touch with the families, to help them and provide them with support, and to strengthen them in their time of need.
We are certain that, in the spirit of the holidays of the month of Tishrei and the New Year, the entire Jewish people in Israel and the world joins us in our prayer. We pray for their quick return to their families, and the fulfillment of the verse ‘and the sons shall return to their border’.”
I am writing to you from Moscow. I came here with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who, in addition to talks with President Putin and the country’s leaders, has found time to meet with the Jewish community and learn about some of the Jewish Agency’s activities in Russia.
Here, too, the subject of the hostages and their families has come up. An event to be held here in Moscow will feature Carnit Goldwasser, a wonderful, determined and devoted woman who, with her perseverance to achieve the release of the hostages, including her husband Ehud, appears wherever she can all over the world, to ensure the issue maintains a prominent position in the free world’s agenda. We, too, asked Carnit to appear in front of the Board of Governors next week, at a meeting that will take place this Sunday in Jerusalem, to address leaders of world Jewry. I am certain that, with her courage and directness, Carnit will find a way into the hearts of everyone there and will enlist their support for the struggle of all of us, to bring our sons home.
I would like to add just a few words about a special venture established by the Jewish Agency over the Succoth holidays, as part of our efforts to rehabilitate life in the north of the country. We initiated a drive to encourage Israelis to spend the Succoth holidays in national parks and nature reserves in the north. Admission was free thanks to the generous support of Keren Hayesod.
140,000 visitors from Israel and abroad accepted our invitation and filled nature spots and tourist attractions in the north, and restored the public’s confidence in this wonderful part of the country where businesses suffered so badly during the war.
I am delighted that, during the holiday, we were able to run a range of additional cultural and social activities for residents of the North and the South, including theater productions and entertainment shows in many towns and villages. We also took part in various theater, dance and children's festivals and participated in parades and Simhat Torah celebrations.
Our ability to support the citizens of our country is a direct result of the assistance and support we enjoy from our partners - the United Jewish Communities, Keren Hayesod-UIA, Israeli companies and organizations, and all the wonderful people who are involved and care, who want to join us in strengthening Israel and Israeli society.
We will continue to preserve our sense of mission and belief in our ability to bring about change within the Jewish people and Israeli society, and we will continue to be a source of pride for our donors, leadership, staff and their families, citizens of Israel and the Jewish people the world over.