JERUSALEM – The Government of Israel this morning (June 1) approved the Government of Israel-World Jewry Joint Initiative, which aims to help ensure the continuity of the Jewish people by strengthening young Jews' Jewish identity and enhancing connections between world Jewry and the State of Israel. The comprehensive, multi-year plan will be based on joint initiatives to be developed by the State of Israel and world Jewry. According to today's decision, The Jewish Agency for Israel will be the government's partner in spearheading the initiative.
Today's government decision comes following a strategic planning process led by The Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel, which involved thousands of participants from Israel and across the Jewish world. According to the decision, during the initial stage of the initiative's implementation, the total budget will be NIS 570 million, of which one third will be budgeted by the government and two thirds will be provided by world Jewry. In 2016, an expansion of the initiative will be brought to the government for approval. It should be noted that the government's investment in the initiative will be above and beyond existing funding for programs pertaining to world Jewry.
The Government of Israel-World Jewry Joint Initiative is viewed as a top priority by the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency due to the ongoing erosion Jewish identity amongst young Jews and growing gaps between young Jews and Israel. The government decision is significant in that it reflects the collective responsibility between the State of Israel and world Jewry for the continuity of the Jewish people.
Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, who participated In today's government meeting, congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Minister of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett and said: "The State of Israel needs a strong Jewish world and the Jewish world needs a strong Israel. This government decision, which comes during a difficult period of budget cuts, is the strongest expression of the centrality of Jewish identity as the cornerstone of Israel-Diaspora relations. Enhancing Jewish identity is at the heart of The Jewish Agency's strategic plan, strengthening both Israel and the Jewish world." Sharansky thanked The Jewish Agency's partners at the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, and the World Zionist Organization, and called on Jewish communities, organizations, and philanthropic groups to come together around the initiative.
The Joint Initiative will be based on a full and equal partnership between the Government of Israel, The Jewish Agency, and the Jewish people, who will act in concert via a joint steering committee to develop the program, achieve its goals, and fund its activities. The day-to-day operation of the initiative will be under the auspices of the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs.
The government decision is based on a joint planning process between the government, The Jewish Agency, and the Jewish people that was started in 2012 and continued through 2013 and 2014. The process saw the participation of thousands of individuals—including top government officials and both professionals and lay leaders from Jewish communities, organizations, and philanthropic foundations around the world—in conferences, seminars, in-depth interviews, and advanced technological platforms.
The initiative will involve joint programs between Israel and Jewish communities around the world that will have a significant, measurable impact on young Jews in Israel and throughout the Jewish world in such areas as formal and informal education, Jewish and Israel experiences, campus life, tikkun olam (social justice), and opportunities for life in Israel. While some existing programs will be scaled up, others will be developed to meet the initiative's aims. The goal is to offer a range of programs that will enable Jews from all denominations, communities, and walks of life to find their place. The programs will include high-quality training for staff and professionals and an advanced online platform to multiply their impact.