A new government-established Week of Strengthening the Connection to Diaspora Jewry was kicked off Tuesday night (Dec. 20) in a conversation with Jewish children and teens on three continents, together with Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky and Israeli Minister of Education and Diaspora Affairs Naftali Bennett.
The conversation took place in The Jewish Agency’s situation room in Jerusalem via videoconference and focused on the connection between Israel and the Jewish world.
Students from five schools were involved in the event: Golda Ochs Academy in West Orange, New Jersey; the Arthur I. Meyer Jewish Academy in Palm Beach County, Florida; the Begin Interdisciplinary School in Safed (Tzfat), Israel; the Merchavim Regional School in Merchavim, Israel; and Ulpanat Noga in Beit Shemesh, Israel — as well as campers at a Bnei Akiva summer camp in South Africa, where it is currently summertime.
The students are all connected to one another via The Jewish Agency’s Global School Twinning Network, which pairs Israeli schools with Jewish schools throughout the world. There are 650 schools currently connected through the program, touching the lives of tens of thousands of Jewish young people on six continents every year. Sharansky said that Israel and the Jewish world are attached and dependent on one another in the two great Jewish battles of our generation, the battle against assimilation for the sake of the Jewish people’s future, and the battle against delegitimization for the sake of the State of Israel’s future.
“We will prevail only if we work together, in full cooperation, and it is important that that conversation start among schoolchildren,” Sharansky said. “The Jewish Agency’s Global School Twinning Network is an initiative that I was proud to promote four years ago. It started with three schools and has grown to 650. I hope that striking growth continues until all schoolchildren in Israel and the Jewish world are connected and in dialogue with one another.” Likewise, Bennett added that he was “pleased to see the success of The Jewish Agency’s Global School Twinning Network, which strengthens connections between Israel and Diaspora Jewry.
“I am Minister of Education for Israeli students, but as Minister of Diaspora Affairs I also feel a sense of responsibility for the education of Jewish students around the world. I see great importance in strengthening the ties between all Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora. We are one big family.”Hana Levi Julian