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Summit on Israel-Diaspora Relations

By: JTA

Some 120 Jewish leaders from Israel and around the world convened for a two-day summit on formulating a plan to strengthen the connection between Israel and Diaspora Jewish communities.

Run in conjunction with the Jewish Agency for Israel, the summit on Wednesday and Thursday will focus, in part, on strengthening Jewish identity among Jewish young adults worldwide.

Organizers said it will build on the 10-day Birthright Israel trips offered to young adults and on the long-term Masa Israel study, internship and volunteer programs in Israel – both of which are partially funded by the Israeli government. Israel invests $127 million annually in these and other programs meant to build bridges between Israel and world Jewry.

“Building on past success, the Government of Israel is determined to champion and co-create, with world Jewry, a multi-layered initiative that guarantees a thriving future for the next generation of Jews,” a planning document for the summit read. “This new initiative has the potential to move to another and more mature level, in terms of cooperation, commitment, content and funding.”

Planning for the summit began last year under the supervision of a task force led by Harel Locker, the director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office. The summit aims to formulate plans to increase Israel education and advocacy – as well as enhance Jewish identity – in the Diaspora, and to promote immigration to Israel.

The plan detailing the summit’s conclusions is due out in 2014.

“The government of Israel believes it plays a central and crucial role in ensuring the future and continuity of the Jewish people in full partnership with Jewish communities of the Diaspora,” Locker said at the summit’s opening event. “Jewish communities play a central and crucial role in fighting the attacks on the legitimacy of the state of Israel, in full partnership with the state of Israel.”

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