The state of Israel will spend NIS 1 Billion a year on programming to bolster the identity of Jews living overseas, Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
The government’s strategic plan for the Diaspora, known as the World Jewry Joint Initiative, is a collaboration between Bennett’s ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Jewish Agency.
Its goal is to work with Jewish communities abroad to collaboratively formulate and fund programs to prevent assimilation. Bennett said it represents a “revolutionary change in the relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.”
“The whole relationship between Israel and Jews abroad needs to change and the objective needs to change, because the situation has changed,” Bennett said. “I’d say the big objective now is to keep Jews Jewish and to keep them connected to Israel, and the younger generation is becoming less Jewish and less connected to Israel as we all well know.”
Bennett said that while he believed the ultimate goal was to reach out to those completely unaffiliated, the interim objective must be to bring in Jewish groups and individuals who could not be part of the initial consultations for the project.
“Basically we’re asking Jews [from] around the world to give us ideas,” he said. “We want to broaden the scope and hear different people, not the same people we have always heard.”
Asked if the differences in worldview between Israeli and Diaspora Jews would be a barrier to effective cooperation, Bennett said this was not an insuperable obstacle. “This is a new model and Israel is a unique country, in the sense that it serves two things: A state of the Jews around the world and a state of its own residents,” he said.
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