Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency, announced a new two-pronged focus for the organization moving into the future. The Agency will center its attention on Diaspora Jews: connecting Diaspora Jews with Israel, and overcoming the challenge of young Diaspora Jews distancing themselves from their Jewish identity. Representing Hadassah at the February meetings were Marlene Post, former National President and member of the National Board; Judy Shereck, National IZAIA (Israel, Zionist and International Affairs) Chair; and Barbara Spack, Youth Aliyah Chair and member of the National Board.
The Jewish Agency was established in 1929 as a partnership between the World Zionist Organizations (WZO) and non-Zionist Jewish leaders, and was responsible for the internal affairs of Palestine--specifically the resettlement of new immigrants, economic development, education, and health services. In its 80+ years of existence, it has adapted to the special challenges and needs of Israel and the Jewish People. Through the Jewish Agency, Jews from many backgrounds, countries, outlooks and ideologies meet, discuss and act together to address challenges and express their shared commitment to Israel. In addition to extensive programs in Israel, it operates in close to 80 countries on five continents through a network of over 450 emissaries, including hundreds of formal and informal educators.
From the start Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, has been a partner involved in the work of the Jewish Agency. Throughout the years, Hadassah women have played leadership roles on Jewish Agency committees and task forces.
In implementing their new concentration, the Jewish Agency will focus on connecting young Jews from around the world to Israel and increasing aliyah through a series of Israel programs (similar to Young Judaea's Israel programs.) New aliyah tracks will center on attracting young professionals from the West.
The second area of focus will be increasing social activism of young Israelis and Diaspora Jews, working together on tikkun olam projects, and programs that strengthen Israel.