JERUSALEM – In his closing address, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We are charged with the task of securing the Jewish future, which to me means securing the Jewish state for the Jewish people, all the Jewish people. We are a link in a chain of generations of Jews. We are going for a partnership to strengthen Jewish identity by bringing young Jews to Israel. Kol yisra'el arevim zeh la-zeh – all Jews are responsible for one another. We have to secure a common future for the Jewish people."
Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky concluded by saying: "What was unique in this process is that this time it was done together with the government. This seminar could not take place if it did not have the leadership of the Prime Minister. The government is not only acting on behalf of the Jewish people, but in partnership with the Jewish people."
For the first time ever, the Government of Israel and the Jewish world held a strategic dialogue aimed at formulating a joint plan to strengthen the younger generation's Jewish identity and deepen the connection between world Jewry and Israel. Approximately a year ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed a taskforce headed by the Director General of the Prime Minister's Office, Harel Locker, in partnership with The Jewish Agency for Israel, in order to develop a joint plan between the Government of Israel and world Jewry. Upon the formation of the new government, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs joined the process. This week, the Prime Minister's Office and the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, in partnership with The Jewish Agency, convened a first-of-its-kind strategic planning summit attended by government representatives and by senior professionals and lay leaders from throughout the Jewish world.
The summit featured a strategic dialogue between the government and world Jewry to formulate a joint policy aimed at strengthening the Jewish identity of the younger generation and deepening the connection between world Jewry and Israel. The joint plan between the Government of Israel and world Jewry is expected to be presented to the government for approval in 2014. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, and Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky addressed the gathering.
120 participants took part in the summit. They represented a vast spectrum of Jewish communal professionals and organizations around the world and in Israel, including representatives of Jewish communities, organizations, and foundations, academics, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, both men and women, young people and veteran leaders from around the world. In an unprecedented move, the dialogue included representatives of all government ministries dealing with connections with the Jewish world: the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, the Ministry of Education, and the Ministry of Culture and Sport. The work took place in small, diverse groups and focused on the joint challenges facing Israel and the Jewish world and on the formulation of joint solutions thereto.
The planning summit marked the culmination of comprehensive staff work begun approximately a year ago by a strategic planning taskforce led by the Prime Minister's Office and The Jewish Agency. The findings were presented to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Diaspora Affairs in June and The Jewish Agency was subsequently asked to convene an unprecedented coalition of senior professionals from throughout the Jewish world and Israel in order to advance the joint initiative.
It should be noted that the Government of Israel invests some NIS 450 million in programs aimed at strengthening ties with the Jewish people each year. The majority of that funding goes to Taglit-Birthright Israel and Masa Israel Journey, a cooperative venture between the government and The Jewish Agency.
This initiative reflects the sense of mutual responsibility between the State of Israel and world Jewry to ensure the future of the Jewish people and maintain Israel's enduring strength as the heart of the Jewish nation. It is being developed in light of indications that young Jews' connections to their Jewish identity and to Israel are weakening.
Participants held a dialogue with the Minister of Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett, met with Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky, and were addressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.