(JTA) — The Jewish Agency is launching an institute in New York to prepare Israeli emissaries for their service.
The Shlichut Institute, which will be launched Wednesday, will provide the emissaries, or shlichim, with training, tools and technology before they serve, as well during and after.
Natan Sharansky, the outgoing chairman of the Jewish Agency, will serve as the founding chair of the institute. The launch will be part of a special event in New York celebrating the end of Sharansky’s nine-year tenure as chairman of the Executive Committee.
President George W. Bush will be among those on hand for the launch, along with 43 emissaries working in North American communities.
Some 2,000 Israelis currently serve in the Jewish Agency’s shlichut program, living in countries around the world and working as camp counselors, representatives on college and university campuses, or staff in Jewish schools and community organizations. The emissaries connect Jews around the world to Israel, including promoting aliyah. They return with insights into Jewish life outside of Israel, as well.
The Shlichut Institute will create an online community in which emissaries are always connected and training no matter where they live.
“On the one hand, it is essential for Jews around the world to get to know Israelis to strengthen their connection to Israel. And on the other, there is no better way to strengthen the Jewish identities of Israelis than by encountering world Jewry,” Sharansky said in a statement. “Shlichim go to Jewish communities around the globe and represent Israeli society. But when they come back to Israel, they are unique ambassadors for Diaspora Jewry in Israel.”