Shakeup at top of Jewish Agency continues

The Jewish Agency for Israel has continued a rearrangement of the organization’s top professionals, as it announced Monday that Alan Hoffman would take over as its director general.

Hoffman will take over JAFI’s second in command for Moshe Vigdor, who announced in December that he was resigning to become the director-general of Israel’s Council for Higher Education.

Hoffman, who moved to Israel from South Africa in 1967, has been the director general of JAFI’s education department since 2000 and will become the first non-Israeli born citizen to become the agency’s director general, according to a JAFI press release.  

Hoffman, who oversaw the organization’s operations in the former Soviet Union and helped develop JAFI’s MASA program, will essentially be first lieutenant to former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, who took over as the chairman of the agency’s executive this summer. Sharansky is the organization’s face and thought leader; Hoffman will run the organization’s day to day operations. 

As Hoffman comes in, the organization is loosing one its top financial officers, as Jeff Kaye, its chief fund raiser is leaving the agency to become the Chief development officer for World ORT.

Both moves follow the forced resignation of Maxyne Finkelstein, the head of JAFI North America. Finkelstein will be replaced by the current CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Mish Galperin.

These moves come as Sharansky has recently formally announced that he would be shifting the focus of the organization away from its traditional focus of spurring immigration to Israel and more towards global Jewish identity building. 

Here is the press release regarding Hoffman.

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Alan Hoffmann appointed Director General of the Jewish Agency 

Alan Hoffmann, Director General of the Department of Education of the Jewish Agency, has been named Director General of the Jewish Agency by a special committee of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors.  Hoffmann, who made Aliyah to Israel from South Africa in 1967, is the first Oleh to hold this position. 

Hoffmann’s professional life has been dedicated to promoting Jewish Education, initially as the director of The Young Judea Year Course.   After three years of doctoral study in educational policy at the Harvard School of Education, he spent 13 years at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education at the Hebrew University, including six years as its director.  Subsequently, he served as the Executive Director of the Council for Initiatives in Jewish Education (CIJE) in New York and in 1997 was named the head of the Mandel Center for Jewish Continuity at the Hebrew University.  He founded the "Revivim" program at Hebrew University, which trains Israeli educators in Jewish content for Israeli public schools. 

In February 2000, Hoffmann became the Director General of the Education Department of the Jewish Agency.  Under his leadership, the department developed such groundbreaking initiatives as MASA Israel Journey and MAKOM.  MASA, a joint program of the Jewish Agency and the Government of Israel, brings young people from around the world to Israel on long-term programs that include study and volunteerism.  MAKOM generates content and drives educational processes that re-imagine the place of Israel in Jewish life.  Hoffmann was also responsible for numerous educational initiatives in Jewish communities worldwide, including summer and winter camps in the FSU; training Israeli counselors to work in camps in North America; professional training initiatives for Jewish educators; sending Israeli educators ("Shlichim") to communities and institutions around the world (including "Campus Fellows" engaged in advocacy efforts at universities); Hebrew language Ulpanim, and more.  

Upon his appointment, Alan Hoffmann re-stated his commitment to connecting world Jewry to Israel and to the Jewish People, saying that "strengthening Jewish identity worldwide through the connection to Israel is crucial to the survival of the Jewish people and to efforts to encourage Aliyah."

Chairman of the Executive Natan Sharansky said that the right man was chosen for the right job, at the right time.  "Alan’s extensive experience in the Jewish Agency and in Jewish Education will serve him well and will help the Jewish Agency face the challenges that lie ahead, particularly in strengthening Jewish identity among the next generation and intensifying the connection between world Jewry and the State of Israel." 

Alan Hoffmann lives in Jerusalem with his wife, Nadia.  They have four children.

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