Israel to Spend Billions on Initiative to Bolster Jewish Identity in Diaspora

January 13, 2014

Source: Jerusalem Post


Details of the Israeli government’s plan to invest billions of dollars over the next two decades to bolster the Jewish identity of Diaspora Jews have been revealed to The Jerusalem Post by senior officials. Announced at a gathering of government officials and Diaspora leaders in Jerusalem last November, the initiative is a first in that Israel intends to formulate and fund programs collaboratively with Jewish communities abroad.


Despite the reluctance of government officials to directly comment on how much money Israel expects to invest, a Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) document sent to Diaspora participants indicated that “the intention is to build the initiative from $30 million in 2014 to $300m. annually within five years.”


Following the success of Taglit-Birthright Israel and other such intensive cultural and historical-experience programs, the state is determined to use a connection to Israel as a tool for combating increasing levels of assimilation and intermarriage around the world.


A source in the Prime Minister’s Office told the Post that “Israel needs Jewish communities around the world” and that the government feels a “moral responsibility for the continuation of Judaism and continuation of Jewish communities.”


Aimed at younger Jews between 12- to 35-years-old, the initiative is looking to create programming in seven content areas: immersive experiences; follow-up; Israel and peoplehood education in formal institutions and informal settings; serving “the global good;” Jewish life and Israel engagement on campuses; and the immigration of young professionals. Final recommendations by the committees, which are a mix of Israeli and Diaspora delegates, are to be ready by late February.


Among the ideas raised during the past weeks of discussions by participants, who have been teleconferencing on a regular basis, are a world Jewish peace corps, pushed by Israel’s Foreign Ministry; the introduction of Hebrew language courses in public schools in cities with large Jewish populations, as proposed by Dr. Steven Nasatir of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago; and the expansion of Birthright-style programs to younger age groups, as well as increasing financial support for Jewish summer camps.


Read more at the Jerusalem Post.

See eJewish Philanthropy's take on the initiative here.

Updated: Jan. 15, 2014