April 2012 / Nissan 5772
Soon, Jews around the world will repeat the timeless yearning, “L'shana haba’a b'yerushalayim.” These words mean many things to many people. But at my family’s Passover seder this year, the phrase will bring to mind The Jewish Agency’s outstanding projects and programs that I look forward to seeing unfold in Jerusalem–-and all over the world—during the next twelve months.
I look forward to seeing how thousands of young Jewish adults will strengthen their bonds with Israel and the Jewish people as they study, travel, volunteer and intern on Israel’s Masa Israel Journey programs.
I also look forward to seeing The Jewish Agency continue to address the schism between ultra-Orthodox and mainstream Israeli Jews by putting our support behind groundbreaking ideas for bringing Jews from all segments of Israeli society together in common purpose and with deeper appreciation for the global Jewish family’s incredible diversity.
Additionally, I look forward to seeing the few thousand remaining members of Ethiopia’s Jewish community make Aliyah. Next year in Jerusalem, we expect to see 250 of these olim arrive each month from our facility in Gondar. We will also have our first Project T.E.N. (Tikkun Empowerment Network) center operating in Gondar, with volunteers from Israel and rest of the world on hand to help the Falash Mura and other needy Ethiopians.
Meanwhile, technology and social media have made the world so much smaller that we don’t even have to board a plane to the experience the bonds of peoplehood. Next year in Jerusalem and elsewhere, thousands of Israeli school kids will participate in Skype chats and joint history lessons with their Diaspora counterparts as part of The Jewish Agency’s Partnership 2Gether school twinning initiative.
The flip side of the information revolution is that being bombarded with media often leaves us overwhelmed, and searching for authenticity and meaning in our lives. As Jews, we have a path -- but we must be willing to embrace it. Next year in Jerusalem and throughout Israel’s periphery, I look forward to seeing an army of young, successful Israelis (who have overcome challenges themselves) working as mentors for The Jewish Agency’s Youth Futures program. This group of volunteers will help at-risk children and their families build the support systems they need in order to thrive.
There is no question that I have high hopes for the Jewish people. But I truly believe that if there was ever a time or a place for the bonds that have sustained us to blossom like never before, it is through the efforts of The Jewish Agency, this year, next year, and always in Jerusalem, in Israel, and around the world.
Wishing you all a very happy and healthy Passover holiday, Chag Kasher V’sameach,