2021 Impact – Leadership Letter | The Jewish Agency - U.S.


from 2021


from 2021

Dear Friends,


We are excited to share The Jewish Agency for Israel’s interactive 2021 Impact Report, spotlighting program updates and key actions we took in 2021 to fulfill our mission. Even as COVID-19 continued to challenge all of us around the world, we were able to react quickly and continue to serve the global Jewish people as the world’s largest Jewish nonprofit with a presence on the ground in 65+ countries, reaching more than 1.2 million Jews.


We are only able to do what we do because of our incredible partners – The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), Keren Hayesod, the World Zionist Organization and the Government of Israel – as well as our many esteemed donors worldwide.

It is thanks to you, and our dedicated employees, that every year, The Jewish Agency’s work continues to grow in impact, reaching more and more Jews, and in 2021, we were especially proud of these accomplishments the world over.

The Jewish Agency continues to be there for any Jew, from any country, who wants to make Israel their home. In 2021, despite airport closures and changing admittance requirements to get into the State of Israel, 28,601 olim (immigrants) made Aliyah from 95 countries with our assistance, including the most olim from the U.S. since 1973. That’s an increase of 31% compared to 2020’s olim, and almost back to pre-COVID numbers. We also saw a major increase in people interested in making Aliyah, as we helped so many start their Aliyah applications, and as a result, we anticipate Aliyah to spike in the next few years. Our expanded collaborations with JFNA, Keren Hayesod, Nefesh B’Nefesh and the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews allowed us to better serve the Jewish people in 2021 as we ensure Israel remains a reachable refuge for those Jews who wish to immigrate.


To maximize the impact of our remarkable Shlichim (Israeli emissaries) who are deployed to Jewish communities all over the world, in 2021, we prioritized showcasing Israel’s diversity. We appointed our first Druze emissary to Washington D.C., in addition to deploying more Ethiopian-Israeli emissaries. And to engage even more Jews, our Shlichim went beyond serving in summer camps, schools, synagogues, college campuses and more by expanding their online activities to reach new communities. Our Summer Camp Shlichim were also able to return to North America in 2021, after a break during 2020 due to COVID-19, bringing the real story of Israel to life for more than 120,000 young Jewish campers.


Mai Siegel for The Jewish Agency for Israel


For much of 2021, Masa Israel Journey was the only program whose participants were allowed entry into Israel, even when the country was closed to foreigners. Working with the Israeli government, we were able to bring 10,600 young Jews from around the world to Israel for meaningful, long-term experiences. Because of the high demand for its immersive Israel programs, Masa made its offerings even more accessible by expanding its participant age eligibility, now accepting Jewish young adults ages 16 to 35 (previously 18 to 30).


With more than 20% of Israeli seniors and roughly one in three Holocaust survivors in Israel living in poverty, our 57 Amigour complexes, which provide affordable housing for 7,500 low-income seniors, are all the more crucial. In 2021, construction continued on 652 Amigour housing units in Netanya and 90 units in Tel Aviv, and three additional senior housing facilities will soon be completed in Herzliya, Be’er Sheva and Ashdod to start accommodating the nearly 30,000 seniors on its waitlist. In the meantime, we continue to keep our current residents safe, active and engaged, from offering workshops on how to use a smartphone to fitness classes and more.


Image provided to The Jewish Agency for Israel


When hundreds of rockets were fired by Hamas in May 2021 during Operation Guardian of the Walls, we protected and offered support to Amigour residents, olim in our absorption centers and participants in our programs across Israel. In the aftermath of the attacks, our Fund for Victims of Terror provided Israelis who were affected by the violence with crucial funds and resources within 48 hours. These funds are raised by our partners and Jews all over the world, an incredible demonstration of how our global Jewish family comes together in solidarity during crises. And as mixed Arab-Jewish cities saw violence and unrest break out between their Jewish and non-Jewish populations, we prioritized shared society programming, doubling down on our efforts to establish understanding and acceptance among Israel’s diverse sectors – and we will continue to do so.


Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how our former Chairman of the Executive, Isaac Herzog, continued with all the work he did during his tenure at The Jewish Agency in his new role as President of the State of Israel.


Alex Gamburg for The Jewish Agency for Israel

As our Chairman, he led us in our mission to connect Jews together, strengthening our shared Peoplehood, in Israel and for world Jewry. Since becoming Israel’s president in mid-2021, Herzog has remained committed to doing so from the President’s House.

And just as 2021 was a record year in many ways for The Jewish Agency, 2022 is already shaping up to be one as well, as our staff were prompted to quickly leap into action when Russia invaded Ukraine to help save Ukrainian Jewish lives. Since the war began, we have been leading and supporting emergency humanitarian rescue efforts on the ground within Ukraine itself and at its borders for the thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing to safety. We are dedicated to supporting the many Ukrainian immigrants, who left their native country for Israel, adjust to life in the Jewish state, offering them crucial resources to ease their transition.


Additionally, later in the year, we look forward to bringing even more Ethiopian olim to Israel, and also helping them acclimate to their new lives in our absorption centers as we continue Operation Zur Israel. And in light of growing antisemitism globally, we have renewed our efforts to boost resilience in Jewish communities worldwide and provide safety measures through our Security Assistance Fund to Jewish institutions outside of North America. With COVID-19 still influencing a sense of normalcy in our lives, we continue to develop virtual programming and expand our use of online platforms to reach more people in Jewish communities large and small. These hybrid methods of connection – in person and online – maximize our global impact to better serve the Jewish people.


Again, we are grateful to our amazing partners and donors for your support, and our phenomenal staff who carry out our work every day. We are able to make a difference in the lives of Jews on such a global scale, no matter the challenges, because we are unwavering in our mission. Every one of us, together.