We’ve been talking for months now about Natan Sharansky’s move to transform the Jewish Agency for Israel into an organization focused on building Jewish identity.
We’ve written extensively about the plan, about some of the personnel moves that Sharansky has made to fulfill the plan, and about the move of its fundraising and marketing departments to New York from Jerusalem – to strategically place the Agency in better position to reach out to the Jewish federations that have traditionally supplied it with most of its core budget and to other funders in the Diaspora the Agency hopes will make up for declining federation dollars.
Yet the actual nuts and bolts of Sharansky’s plan have been a little scant, aside from some ideas he has tossed about publicly that include becoming a bigger player in the field of Israel advocacy on college campuses, as Sharansky seems focused now on getting his board of governors aligned with his general idea.
This morning, Haviv Rettig at the JPost has some of what may be more details of the actual plan.
The agency will focus on straddling the gap between the world’s major Jewish communities. This includes a much larger effort to “partner” communities, such as with the Partnership 2000 program that connects Israeli towns with Diaspora communities.
“We’d like to use ‘P2K’ to do more,” said an official familiar with the discussions.
But first and foremost, the agency’s plan will see a massive focus on developing new ways for Jewish youth worldwide to interact. “Programming that speaks to younger audience will have higher priority,” said one official. “The goal is to develop a continuum of engaging programming into the 30s for young people – with Israelis interacting with Diaspora [youth] and Diaspora with Israeli.”
Talk is rampant about upping the agency’s support for – and use of – the Taglit-birthright israel and Masa programs as platforms for new educational and identity programs.
Several officials spoke of a program that would bring together Israeli, American, European and other Jewish college-age youth on joint aid missions to Third-World countries.
“The idea is to do service work that will also serve [as a demonstration of] the Jewish value system that guides this behavior, and to incorporate the ‘peoplehood’ element by bringing all kinds of Jews together to do it,” another official said.
As part of the plan, the agency has undergone a significant reorganization in recent weeks, most prominently the transformation of its New York office into a major center of gravity for the organization, which is now in charge of “global public affairs and financial resource development.”