“We can’t afford the luxury of ignoring the Jews of the Diaspora”
For the third time we have held our annual shlichut exposure convention, in cooperation with The Religious Zionist Shlichut Center and many other shlichut organizations.
Some 450 young men and women participated in the convention. They learned about the current situation of Diaspora Jewry and of the various types of shlichut offered by each organization. Ohad Tal, head of the center made the opening remarks: “The reality in the Diaspora is complex; the sad process of disengagement from Jewish identity and from The State of Israel is leading to ever increasing levels of assimilation. We can’t just stay in Israel and expect them to make aliyah. We need to reach out to them and strengthen the bonds between us. We need thousands of shlichim who will go from Israel to communities around the world and build connections with them”.
The representatives of each organization described the unique elements of their shlichut, each with its own emphasis – communal, organizational, youth movement, rabbinical, campuses and more. The wide variety of shlichut models allows for many people to find a position fitting their skills.
Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, shared her personal experience as a shlicha: “My shlichut changed my life. Before I reached 18 I had never been exposed to Jews in the Diaspora, The Zionism i was raised on did not grasp why they didn’t come to Israel… We have a responsibility for our brother around the world. Leadership means taking responsibility and caring for all the members of our family. Our brothers abroad are not just ‘Facebook friends’; they are truly our brothers and we must strengthen our connection with them.
Rabbi Yona Goodman presented the dire statistics of assimilation in the Diaspora. He stressed that we cannot simply place the blame on the Jewish communities, but rather need to understand the underlying causes for the situation and see it as a national challenge we cannot ignore: “Every generation Hashem presents us with a mission, and today our challenge is to save world Jewry. The numbers are horrific, even if in Israel we don;t seem to notice – 75% assimilation in Russia and 58% in The United States, Australia and Europe”.
Registration to begin the screening process for shlichut continues, and even those who did not attend the convention are welcome to apply at each organizations website.