More than 30 leaders from major Jewish organizations around the world participated this week in a virtual roundtable forum organized by the Jewish Agency for Israel and Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs to assess the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on Jewish communities worldwide and the necessary steps to address their most pressing needs. The World Jewish Congress was among the participating organizations, represented by Co-chair of the WJC Policy Council Robert Goot.
The call began with introductory remarks by the new Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Omer Yankelevich, who underscored the importance of Jewish unity and cooperation to ensure the collective safety and success of all Jews. “Together as world Jewry, we will build a strong working forum which will provide and achieve concrete solutions for all of our communities,” she said.
Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog presented an overview of five main areas of discussion: Community – the need for rehabilitation and assistance in surviving the crisis; Resources – effectively collecting and distributing aid; Hope and morale – promoting unity and mutual responsibility; Education – current and future needs; and Antisemitism – preparation for future outbreaks. These pressing matters will continue to be addressed in upcoming forum meetings and in subcommittees on each topic.
“For the first time in the history of the State of Israel, we established a formal forum to assist Jewish communities around the world. This is a paradigm shift,” said Herzog.
The leaders of the Jewish organizations followed by presenting their in-depth perspectives regarding the challenge facing the global Jewish community. Leveraging the global presence of these organizations, leaders discussed the impact of the current crisis, the related challenges, as well as opportunities and possible responses.
The global forum comprised 30 regional umbrella organizations, representing Jewish communities around the world, which have the ability to provide a community-wide assessment, and who together are committed to gathering all knowledge, experience and leadership needed for strengthening communities’ resilience and restoring global Jewish life.
After the conclusion of the call, Yankelevich imparted that she was “humbled to see how Jewish communities everywhere are faring in these troubled times and how they are striving to share ideas, learn from each other’s mistakes and grow together. Their united spirit is inspiring as they work together to provide a stable platform for assistance on a regular basis. Together as world Jewry, we will build a strong working forum that will provide and achieve concrete solutions for all of our communities.”
The forum is run by Jewish Agency CEO Amira Ahronoviz and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs Director-General Dvir Kahana, who will also oversee its operations and implementation of its plans of action. An additional forum including representatives of major Jewish communities around the world will convene in the coming weeks. The forum will be administered by Advisor to Chairman of The Jewish Agency Shirly Heller, together with the Secretariat General of the Jewish Agency led by Secretary-General of The Jewish Agency Josh Schwarcz.
Organizations participating in the forum included the Government of Israel – represented by the Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Prime Minister, the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the Latin American Jewish Congress, the Russian Jewish Congress, the Jewish Federations – North America, Keren Hayesod – UIA, World Zionist Organization, ADL, Conference of Presidents, Joint Distribution Committee, Jewish National Fund, Orthodox Union, United Synagogues of Conservative Judaism, URJ Union for Reform Judaism, WUPJ-World Union Progressive Judaism, B’nai Brith International, Claims Conference, Conference of Europeans Rabbis, American Jewish Committee, Chabad, Hillel International, World Union of Jewish Students, Maccabi World Union, Moishe House, Commonwealth Jewish Communities, Israeli American Council, OAM, Organization of Orthodox Synagogues.