New Jewish Agency head vows to bridge Israel-Diaspora rift

“The relationship between Israel and Jews in the Diaspora has suffered a severe blow over the few past years, and we have to do whatever we can to mend it,” Herzog said.

By: World Israel News Staff

Israel’s newly elected chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, an organization responsible for bridging gaps between Israel and Jewish communities worldwide, has vowed to work towards the unity of the Jewish people while noting the significant challenge.

“The relationship between Israel and Jews in the Diaspora has suffered a severe blow over the few past years, and we have to do whatever we can to mend it,” Isaac Herzog told Israel’s Ynet news in an interview on Sunday.

Discussing the situation of US Jewry, he spoke of “something I referred to as a plague,” the high rate of intermarriage.

“I saw that my friends’ children are married or are in relationships with non-Jewish partners, while their parents agonize over it and ask questions. We are talking about every (Jewish) family in the US, millions,” Herzog said.

“There has to be a solution. We have to rack our brains and see how we can solve this great challenge,” he added.

Over 60 percent of young American Jews marry non-Jewish spouses, and only a small percentage of those who marry Jews give their children a Jewish education of any kind.

“I can’t guarantee 100 percent results, [but] I guarantee 100 percent effort to face basic issues such as the growing gap between Israel and the Diaspora,” Herzog said.

“The Diaspora Jews are essential to the State of Israel and vice versa,” he underscored.

Herzog, the former Labor Party leader, will begin his new position on August 1, succeeding outgoing chairman Natan Sharansky, a former Soviet political prisoner.

The Jewish Agency is a non-governmental umbrella organization that works closely with the Israeli government to encourage Jewish immigration and the developing of ties with Diaspora communities. It had a $362 million budget in 2018.

AP contributed to this report.