Federations Bring Members of Knesset to the U.S. April 10, 2013
Five members of Israel’s Knesset arrived in the United States on Sunday, as part of a week-long visit to Jewish communities in North America. The mission, organized by The Jewish Federations of North America together with The Jewish Agency for Israel, will show Knesset members Jewish community life in North America, as well as the work of Jewish Federations and The Jewish Agency. This mutually beneficial visit will also build relationships and provide increased access for Federations to the highest levels of Israeli government.
JFNA’s Senior Vice President for Global Operations Rebecca Caspi and Secretary General of The Jewish Agency Josh Schwarcz are leading the mission. "This visit will help reinforce the relationship between Israel and North American Jewry, and we are confident that these Israeli leaders will leave with a far greater understanding and appreciation of our global community," said Caspi.
The group will visit the Federations of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, giving the Israeli leaders an opportunity to observe different communities and see varying styles of major Federation work.
One of the group’s members, Chairman of the Knesset Aliyah, Klitah and Diaspora Affairs Committee MK Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid), stated, “The mission has given me the opportunity to get to know the American Jewish community and to draw some very important conclusions about the need to strengthen the connection between the Jewish community here in the U.S. and in the State of Israel. This connection is the backbone of Israel from every perspective.”
The MKs also engaged in eye-opening dialogue with North American Jews about the issue of prayer at the Kotel, and gained increased understanding of the complex issue from the Diaspora perspective.
Chairman of the Knesset Lobby for Strengthening the Jewish People MK Dr. Nahman Shai (Labor), also a member of the mission, said, “Israel needs the Jewish people at every moment, and Jews around the world lean on the State of Israel and derive strength from its existence.”
The members of Knesset will meet with lay and professional leaders of Federations, witness projects of The Jewish Agency and observe Jewish life on campuses, in schools and in the religious arena. In particular, the group will be involved in several discussions and meetings on civil society and religious pluralism.
Dede Feinberg, chair of the executive committee of the Board of JFNA, who met the group in New York, said, “I was encouraged by how receptive the Israelis and North Americans were to each other, as well as the level of open communication between the members of Knesset themselves. Our meeting left me optimistic that the new Israeli government has a true commitment to finding common ground and moving the agenda forward.”
Deputy Education Minister MK Avi Wortzman (Bayit HaYehudi) said, “This mission has profoundly changed and developed my understanding of Jewish life in the U.S. and around the world.”
Also taking part in the mission are Secretary General of the Labor Party, MK Hilik Bar and MK David Tsur (HaTnuah).