Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday met with the leadership of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The group included leaders from the US and Canada
They discussed the need to increase and expand initiatives focused on Jewish education and identity in the Diaspora. Netanyahu said that the Israeli government under his leadership has invested tens of millions of dollars in these programs, but he agreed this priority deserved more funding and more should be done.
The Israeli premier thanked the OU leaders for their support of Israel and for the advancing of relations between Israel and the US and declared it was now time for Israel to give back.
“It is time that instead of Israel receiving from the Diaspora, we are now giving back. We are increasing the support to tens of millions of dollars, but it is not enough, we need to do more,” Netanyahu said.
The response from OU leaders was optimistic.
“I was very much encouraged by the Prime Minister’s commitment to Jewish students in the diaspora. We look forward to continuing to partner with him and the State of Israel to expose all Jews to their heritage,” said OU President Moishe Bane following the meeting.
OU Executive Vice President Allen Fagin added that they were “delighted to have the opportunity to explain to the Prime Minister how youth and adult programming around greater exposure to Israel increases their Jewish identity and their attachment to the State of Israel.”
The OU leadership group was in Israel for an annual celebration with the participants of its summer programs in Israel, which have reached a high of 3,000 participants this year. According to the OU leaders, the record summer attendance, and the fact that the OU has become one of the largest operators of first-time group travel to Israel by young adults from North America, validates the need for more funding to support these programs.