The Jewish Agency for Israel has announced yet another major personnel move: Larry Weinberg, the former executive director of the de facto PR firm for Israel, ISRAEL21c, has been named as JAFI’s chief communications officer.
Hiring a new communication’s head may not seem like a huge deal on the surface, but with it comes another significant change: The agency’s central marketing office will be moved from Jerusalem to New York.
Since Natan Sharansky took over as the Agency’s chairman about a year ago, he has completely revamped its top brass.
For those keeping score: Allan Hoffman has taken over for Moshe Vigdor as JAFI’s second in command; the current CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, Misha Galperin, will replace Maxyne Finkelstein, the head of JAFI North America; and the agency lost its top fund-raising official, Jeff Kaye, to World ORT.
Though it’s not clear exactly what other personnel moves are coming, it is clear that the organization’s primary messaging will come from New York.
When Galperin, who is still working as the CEO of the Washington federation, officially takes his new post on July 1, the agency fund-raising arm will officially move to New York from Jerusalem. The marketing/external affairs department, which Weinberg will oversee, will fall under Galperin’s office, too.
The key takeaway here is that the agency is trying to figure out how to better communicate its message to the North American Jewish federation system, which still gives it more than $100 million per year in unrestricted funds, and how to broaden its donor base.
The personnel shake-up comes at a time when Sharansky is trying to set the organization on a new path, focusing on Jewish identity-building around the world instead of its traditional mission of convincing Diaspora Jews to immigrate to Israel. That shift will force the agency to re-prioritize the way it sells itself to the public, primarily highlighting its functions outside of immigration.
“It is a recognition that some things and some important audiences for the Jewish Agency are probably better served by professionals that are familiar with them,” Weinberg said. “There will be some changes in the product line of the Jewish Agency over time. But to implement a strategy over time that will improve the brand of the Jewish Agency and illuminate the path and possibilities of the Jewish Agency is probably better done out in the Diaspora.”
Weinberg assumed his new post May 15 and has been working out of Jerusalem. He will officially move his operations to New York when Galperin takes over.
Here is the news release announcing the move:
Larry Weinberg Appointed Jewish Agency’s Chief Communications Officer
The Jewish Agency is pleased to announce the appointment of Larry Weinberg to the newly-established position of Chief Communications Officer of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Currently working in the Agency’s Jerusalem headquarters, Mr. Weinberg will be based in New York reporting to Dr. Misha Galperin. The announcement that Galperin will, on July 1st, become the CEO of a newly created Global Public Affairs and Financial Resource Development group was announced in March. Mr. Weinberg will be responsible for the management of the Agency’s brand, its marketing and communications activities and lead its efforts to reach out to the world Jewish community utilizing cutting-edge communications technologies and platforms.
The department will work closely with the Jewish Agency’s key partners: in North America, the Jewish Federations of North America, JDC, and others; as well as with Keren Heyesod, other Jewish organizations and communities in Europe , and still others worldwide.
Larry Weinberg is a marketing and communications professional with 30 years experience. Most recently he served as executive vice president of ISRAEL21c, an innovative nonprofit pro-Israel communications and advocacy group that conceived, created and still sets the standard for the “Beyond the Conflict” branch of pro-Israel communications. Mr. Weinberg led the organization’s “New Paradigm for Israel Communications” effort in North America leading to extensive adoption of the positive messaging approach to Israel’s image. He also served as a founding member of the team advising Israel’s Foreign Ministry on the development of its nation-branding program. Prior to ISRAEL21c, Mr. Weinberg was a principal of Navicom Group, Inc. a public relations company he founded with a partner that had offices in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia.
“The Jewish Agency is about to make major decisions relating to its future. I am confident that Larry Weinberg will play a major role in transmitting this new message throughout the Jewish world, " said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
"We are delighted to have Larry Weinberg join our senior staff in New York,” said Dr. Galperin. “His work at ISRAEL21c showed him to be a strategist, innovator and leader who successfully introduced new concepts and practices that were accepted and widely adopted throughout the Jewish world. We are looking for Larry to bring that passion, energy and experience to our efforts to communicate the Jewish Agency’s new vision and strategic direction.”
“I am thrilled to join this mission because I believe completely in the vision that Natan Sharansky has articulated for the Jewish Agency and the Jewish people,” said Larry Weinberg, “And I am particularly excited to be able to work side-by-side in this effort with Misha Galperin. This will clearly be a labor of love for me.”
Larry Weinberg was born and raised in New York, earned a bachelor’s degree from NYU and a masters from the Maxwell School of Public Affairs at Syracuse University. After working for three New York City mayors, he became the economic development director for Brooklyn, NY and was the founding president of the Brooklyn Economic Development Corporation. After working in New York in public relations, he relocated to Los Angeles in 1988 where soon after, he founded his first public relations firm.
In 1996 Charles Bronfman invited Larry to serve on the board of Israel Experience, Inc., a non-profit start-up that in 1998 became become Birthright Israel. Larry served as Birthright’s marketing vice chair, supervised the original branding of Birthright Israel and the marketing of the first trips. It was during the first-ever Birthright mega-event in Jerusalem that Larry envisioned the possibility of making Israel-related work his vocation, not just his avocation. He joined ISRAEL21c two years later.
Mr. Weinberg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife Dana, their two sons and two dogs. He will relocate to New York in July 2010.
# # #
We build Jewish identity by connecting world Jewry with Israel.
The Jewish Agency, the world’s largest Jewish nonprofit organization, is recognized by the Government of Israel as having unique responsibilities:
We facilitate immigration and bring Jews in distress to Israel
We bring young Jews to Israel on educational and career programs and we create Israel-centered programming abroad
We narrow educational gaps for youth in Israel through partnerships between communities in Israel and abroad.
A partnership of world Jewry with the people and State of Israel since 1929, the Jewish Agency is supported by Jewish communities abroad and other supporters of Israel.
The Jewish Agency for Israel is funded by Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod, major Jewish communities and federations, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, foundations and donors from Israel and around the world.
Director of Public Relations and Marketing
Jewish Agency for Israel – North America
633 Third Ave., 21st floor, New York, NY 10017