In the coming week, emissaries of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) plan to open 11 new Hebrew language centers (ulpanim), in addition to the 220 existing facilities the group operates around the world, according to WZO Chairman Avraham Duvdevani who appeared on Tuesday before the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee.
Committee Chairman MK Avraham Nagosa (Likud) commended the WZO efforts, saying that “the Zionist journey is not over – as long as a single Jew is still living in the diaspora.”
Last year the WZO established 140 new Hebrew language centers, most of them in France, Argentina, and the UK.
Addressing Nagosa, who is an Ethiopian Jew, Duvdevani noted that Tuesday, Heshvan 29, was the Sigd holiday for Ethiopian Jews, when they traditionally expressed their yearning to ascend to Zion. Rooted in the verb “to worship” (lisgod, in Hebrew), Sigd commemorates two historic events in which the Jews of Ethiopia escaped annihilation by their neighbors. Duvdevani added that the WZO has been “overhauled” in the past six years, and today focuses on Jewish-Zionist education in diaspora. It employs more than 200 emissaries who teach in schools and ulpanim in Israel and abroad, fight anti-Semitism by collecting information and reactions, promotes Aliyah from Western countries as well as Zionist awareness in Israel.
According to Duvdevani, the WZO has increased its activity with Russian speaking Jews who immigrated to the West. “In this community we receive a strong response, since they seek a connection to Israel and Judasim.” The WZO is also active among some one million Israelis living in north America, for whom “we operate Jewish cultural centers, including establishing day schools for their children,” he added.