web analytics
December 23, 2014 / 1 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Jewish Agency’

Jewish Diaspora Donors Infuse NIS 50M Into Southern Israel

Monday, October 27th, 2014

Jewish donors have injected an infusion of some NIS 50 million ($13.22 million) into rocket-battered communities in southern Israel.

The package was organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel, whose Board of Governors is meeting this week in the coastal city of Ashkelon and surrounds.

Ashkelon was one of the primary targets of rocket and missile attacks launched by Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization before and during the IDF’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge this summer.

The funds are being used to help the south recover from the damage inflicted by Gaza terrorists during the 50-day war, which ended on the eve of Tisha B’Av.

Comprised of donations from the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren HaYesod-UIA and others, some of the money is aimed at programs to expand the population of communities closest to the border with Gaza.

Approximately 1,300 scholarships of more than NIS 5,700 each ($1,500) will be offered to students living within four kilometers of Gaza (2.5 miles) for help with rent, in a move designed to draw young adults to the area.

In addition, there will be funding for special loans to local businesses located within the “40-kilometer (25 miles) zone” whose operations was affected by the war. There will also be grants for victims of rocket attacks, financing to pay for refurbishing private bomb shelters via the Amigur housing subsidiary, coordinated between the Jewish Agency, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Defense. In addition, the Jewish Agency will provide support for new immigrants in local absorption centers in southern Israel and IDF lone soldiers wounded during the war.

The Jewish Agency Fund for Victims of Terror also provides a grant of NIS 4,000 ($1,060) to famkilies immediately after an attack if they have experienced an injury or loss or their homes were damaged by rocket fire during a war. Subsequently, if the government of Israel recognizes a family as a “victim of terror” the Fund provides additional aid of up to NIS 25,000 ($6,600) to the family as well.

Yet, world Jewry has responded magnificently with compassion and grace to help provide the massive amount of money required to address the needs of Israel’s war-torn southern population, so badly traumatized following the summer’s events.

Opening this week’s gathering, Jewish Agency chairman Natan Scharansky thanked the agency’s partners in the Jewish world.

“This is a continuation of the Jewish world’s massive outpouring of solidarity with the people of Israel and the residents of the South over the course of the summer,” Scharansky noted. “During the war, we stood with the residents and channeled the solidarity and support of world Jewry. Today, we are partnering with the government of Israel to ensure that [their] pioneering spirit endures well into the future, drawing ever more people to this area and keeping it strong and vibrant for many years to come.

“This is the Zionist response to this summer’s events, and it is an expression of our commitment to the residents of southern Israel.”

The agency’s Board of Governors also toured Kibbutz Nahal Oz, one of the Gaza Belt communities that was held under siege with rocket and mortar fire by Hamas and allied terrorists prior to and during the war.

IDF Southern Command GOC Maj. Gen. Shlomo Turgeman told the governors, “We are fighting for our homes here. Your decision to hold the Jewish Agency Board of Governors’ meetings in southern Israel after Operation Protective Edge is a massive source of strength for me personally, and for the soldiers under my command.”

Hundreds of World Jewish Leaders to Meet in Rocket-Battered South

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Hundreds of Jewish leaders from around the world who are part of the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governor will convene in Ashkelon, one of Hamas favorite targets for rockets and missiles, next week.

The Board had been set to meet in Mexico as part of its annual rotation amongst the world’s Jewish communities, but in light of this summer’s hostilities, it decided to move the gathering to southern Israel as an expression of support and solidarity with its residents.

Speakers will include Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, author and journalist Yossi Klein Halevi, and Racheli Fraenkel, the mother of one of the three yeshiva students whom Hamas terrorists kidnapped and murdered this summer.

Diaspora Leaders Score $100 Million from Israel

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Its leaders call it a “historic development,” a “paradigm shift” and a “change in the relationship” between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.

But when it comes to the details of the Joint Initiative of the Government of Israel and World Jewry, key questions have yet to be answered — including what it will do and who will fund it.

Conceived last year as a partnership between the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency for Israel and major Diaspora Jewish bodies, the initiative aims to strengthen Diaspora Jewish identity and connections between Israel and Jews worldwide.

On Sunday, Israel’s Cabinet voted to invest upward of $50 million on the initiative through 2017. The government intends to increase the sum to $100 million annually by 2022.

The government wants Diaspora sources — federations, philanthropic foundations and individual donors — to contribute double those sums for two-thirds of the initiative’s total budget.

The funding will go both toward expanding existing programs for young adults and creating new ones.

“It’s a historic development that the Israeli government has decided to take more responsibility for strengthening the identity of Jewish communities,” the Jewish Agency’s chairman, Natan Sharansky, told JTA. “We’re talking about Jewish identity built on a connection to Israel.”

Given the success of Birthright Israel, a free, 10-day trip to Israel for Jewish young adults, the initiative will focus on immersive experiences in Israel, college campus programs, Jewish summer camps and experiential learning, Sharansky said.

But though the Israeli government has set aside money for the initiative, it has neither lined up the matching grants from Diaspora foundations nor has it outlined the specific programs that would receive the funding.

A planning meeting for the initiative in November 2013 drew a virtual who’s who of major Jewish organizations and foundations. But Sharansky mentioned only Jewish Federations of North America as a potential initial source of funding from the United States, saying he didn’t want to single others out before a plan had been set.

“There are many unanswered questions at this point,” the Jewish Federations’ CEO, Jerry Silverman, told JTA. “Six months from now many of those questions will be answered. We’re not at the finish line. We’re at the 30-yard line. We feel confident we’ll get to the finish line together on this.”

Silverman said that the Jewish Federations had yet to decide on an initial sum to contribute to the initiative and that his network was not involved in setting the budget passed by the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday.

Sharansky set a timetable of one to two months for program proposals to be drawn up. Following the initiative’s lengthy planning process thus far, which has included conferences and an online forum for young Jews worldwide to suggest programs, Sharansky said that “coming to practical decisions comes very quickly.”

Dvir Kahana, the director-general of Israel’s Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, said the initiative still requires strategic planning in addition to practical steps.

The Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, as well as the Finance Ministry, will provide Israeli government funding for the initiative. It will be run by a body including representatives from the Israeli government, the Jewish Agency and Diaspora funders.

“We’re going to have a strategic plan for the next 25 years,” he said. “Not what we know to do now but what we should and should not do. From that strategic perspective, with key people, we’ll make decisions both regarding existing programs and programs we need to create. We’re not set on any specific program.”

According to the text of the resolution passed by Israel’s Cabinet, a key portion of the initiative is strengthening the relationship between Israel and Diaspora Jewry. The first stage of the initiative will focus both on bringing young Diaspora Jews to Israel and on Israel education in Diaspora communities. There has not been a decision whether the project’s initial stage will also educate Israeli Jews about world Jewry, Sharansky said.

The Jewish Agency, historically focused on promoting immigration to Israel, has in recent years taken up a new mission of strengthening Jewish identity in the Diaspora and peoplehood. It now offers Diaspora Jews long-term experiences in Israel without a commitment to immigrate.

Sharansky said that while Orthodox Jews can count on ritual observance to keep them engaged in the Jewish community, Israel is the only proven anchor to ensure Jewish identity for non-Orthodox Jews.

“In the non-Orthodox world nothing stops assimilation except connection to Israel,” he said. “In Orthodox communities, awareness of Jewish identity is very high. They live through their faith and Jewish tradition. When you move to others you find out that this deep feeling of your belonging to this Jewish story and your desire to stay inside of it is becoming thinner and thinner.”
 

Thousands Participate in French Aliyah Fair

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

PARIS – Thousands of Jews from throughout France participated in an Aliyah information fair held in central Paris earlier today (March 30) and organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel in cooperation with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and the World Zionist Organization. Participants met with representatives of dozens of Israeli organizations and institutions, including government ministries and local authorities, and received information on opportunities for life in Israel, Aliyah programs for young people, educational programs for teenagers, employment counseling, and more.

According to Jewish Agency figures, Aliyah from France has risen sharply since the start of the year: 854 new olim (immigrants) from France arrived in Israel during the months of January and February, compared to 274 during the comparable period in 2013. This threefold (312%) increase is due in part to increased efforts by The Jewish Agency to strengthen the French Jewish community’s relationship to Israel through educational programs, information sessions, and Aliyah fairs, as well as to the economic situation in France and communal insecurity due to anti-Semitism. 2014 is thus set to continue the significant upward trend in French Aliyah, which saw the arrival of 3,280 new olim in 2013, a 70% increase compared to the 1,917 olim who arrived in 2012.

In addition to the increase in Aliyah from France, The Jewish Agency has seen a significant rise in the number of Jewish young people interested in participating in Israel experience programs. Some 1,000 Jewish high school students recently participated in The Jewish Agency’s Bac Bleu Blanc (“High School Seniors in Blue and White”) program, which enables students at Jewish schools to explore opportunities for life in Israel following their graduation from high school. Additionally, 1,000 French Jewish young people are currently participating in Masa Israel Journey, a partnership between the Government of Israel and The Jewish Agency that enables young Jews to experience life in Israel, compared to 500 just two years ago. Some 70% of French Masa participants make Aliyah upon completing the program.

Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency unveiled a new government plan to encourage Aliyah from France. The plan includes boosting the number of Jewish Agency shlichim (emissaries) in France, increasing marketing efforts, developing new immigrant absorption programs, and establishing a special committee headed by the Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office to remove obstacles to French Aliyah. The plan also sets clear benchmarks for increasing the number of olim, seeking to double their numbers in the coming years. This groundbreaking plan is the result of intensive cooperation between the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and The Jewish Agency, along with the World Zionist Organization, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, and Keren Hayesod-UIA, all of which are working together for the first time in order to strengthen French Aliyah. The plan was developed in consultation and cooperation with French Jewish organizations, both in France and in Israel.

Jewish Agency Offers Emergency Help to Ukraine’s Jews

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

The Jewish Agency said it would offer immediate emergency assistance to Ukraine’s Jewish community and will help secure the country’s Jewish institutions.

Saturday evening’s announcement by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky came hours after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev and the Ukrainian parliament announced new presidential elections for late May. Violent protests led to the deaths of dozens in the days leading up to the coup.

There are about 200,000 Jews living in Ukraine, most in the Ukrainian capital Kiev, according to the Jewish Agency.

Sharanksky said in a statement that Ukraine “one of most vibrant Jewish communities in the world, with dozens of active Jewish organizations and institutions. Recent events have shown that we must strengthen these institutions’ security measures. We have a moral responsibility to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s Jews,” said Sharansky.

Sharansky told Jewish Agency leadership on Saturday night that the organization is in “constant contact” with the Jewish community leadership in Ukraine, and is following events there closely.

Assistance will come from The Jewish Agency’s Emergency Assistance Fund for Jewish Communities, which provides financial assistance to enable Jewish communities to strengthen security measures in Jewish communities at risk.

Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman told the Israeli daily Maariv that he advised his congregation to leave Kiev and the country, if possible. Azman closed the Kiev Jewish community’s schools due to the violence, Maariv reported. Azman also told the newspaper that the Israeli embassy advised the members of the Jewish community to remain in their homes.

Government Says Aliyah Stats from US Better than Previously Stated

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Official statistics on aliyah to Israel from the United States have been corrected to show that there was only a tiny change for the worse in the past year from the number of new immigrants in 2012.

The Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency issued a report in late December that aliyah from the United States and Canada was 11 percent less than in the previous year. Figures for the United States include new immigrants from Mexico as well as Canada.

“Empirical data actually shows that the aliyah figures from North America in 2013 remained almost the same as 2012,” according to an official statement.

There were 3,504 immigrants to Israel from North America in 2013, 53 less than in 2012.

Come Home, Ms. Shapiro, It’s All Good

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

Lynne Shapiro commented on my article Am I Jewish Enough? Depends which Government Ministry You’re Asking, which in turn was my comment on an article by Judy Maltz, in both Haaretz and the Forward, Jewish Enough for Birthright — But Not for Israel: Kafkaesque Dilemmas Bedevil Would-Be Immigrants.

“OK Mr.,” Shapiro opened with an admirable vigor, “I am Jewish through a Reform Converted mother and a born to a Jewish mother father and have been more so living a Jewish life since he died and I became his Kaddish in my uncle’s Conservative Egalitarian synagogue (at his insistence). So if I’m not Jewish enough for you to return to Israel, why would I want to give any funds to any group that gives money to Israel as I have done over the years?”

And she added, in a separate comment:

“Also my Reform Convert mother was a total and complete Zionist and made me one! This ‘who is Jew’ is like what the Nazis did to determine who went to the camps IMHO (in my humble opinion)!”

Dear Ms. Shapiro,

First, whatever money you’ve donated to Israel through any group, most of it stays in America, to support the group’s works there, and to pay for the fundraising overhead. Israel’s economy at this point is a lot stronger and more boisterous than that of the U.S., and you should keep your money over there, we don’t need it.

Especially if you’re going to wave it in our faces every time we do something you dislike. Hold on to the money, buy yourself something nice, let’s not base our friendship on your ever diminishing U.S. dollar.

Next, as I understand the current Law of Return, your credentials are good enough to be accepted here as a citizen as soon as your arrive. In fact, they’ll probably make you a citizen even earlier, at the nearest Israeli consulate. They did that with my wife, Nancy, back in NYC, in the fall of 2011.

But why do you care about that? You ain’t planning to come here – you’re just working out a sweat over the fact that if ever you had decided to come over and make aliyah, then Israel would reject you. The problem is not with Israel in this case, but with you.

If you and the rest of America’s Jews knew what’s good for them, they’d be cramming the airports, looking to get out and make it to a safe haven in the Jewish State. IMHO, if you’re so familiar with what the Nazis did—use that acquired wisdom and get out of there while the getouting is good. We will embrace you and accept you and love you, no matter how your Mom converted. You can check it with your local Jewish Agency or Nefesh B’Nesfesh. Locate your nearest office of either and give them a call.

I wish all of us have learned a lesson from the Nazis. The late Lubavitcher Rebbe of righteous memory (who departed almost 20 years ago), used to say that we should learn from the Gestapo: how dedicated they were in seeking out every last Jew, no matter how far and how well hidden. We, too, must seek the hidden, faraway Jews, with the same dedication and self sacrifice as those Nazis, may God obliterate their memory.

So now you have it, holy sister – come home, call me up, I’ll take you to the Netanya beach, buy you a drink, point at the baby blue sky and the blue-green Mediterranean and say, Welcome home.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/yoris-news-clips/come-home-ms-shapiro-its-all-good/2014/01/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: