Eight members of Israel’s Knesset spent four days visiting Jewish communities in New York and New Jersey on a trip co-sponsored by Jewish Federations of North America and The Jewish Agency for Israel. The trip, which culminated this week, aimed to expose members of Israel’s Knesset to the rich diversity of Jewish communal life in North America, challenges communities face and Federation initiatives to support the Israeli people. They also met with Jewish Agency shlichim to hear how they work to strengthen the next generation's connection to Israel. Members of the mission represent a diverse group of parties from the coalition and opposition.
“We believe that first-hand experiences and face-to-face conversations are critical in helping to deepen the understanding that senior Israeli leaders have of North American Jewry,” said Jewish Federations of North America Board Chair Julie Platt. “By fostering dialogue based on mutual understanding and respect, we will forge stronger bonds between North American Jewry and Israel and collectively address the challenges that both our communities face."
During the visit, the members of Knesset met with Jewish communal leaders, heard directly from Hillel students and Jewish Agency shlichim about dealing with antisemitism on campus, met Jewish Agency Chairman of the Executive Major General (Res.) Doron Almog who joined the group from Israel, visited the United Nations with Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan and met with NYPD officers to discuss security challenges and to learn about successful communal relations initiatives. They were also briefed by Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest CEO Dov Ben-Shimon and UJA-Federation of NY CEO Eric Goldstein.
Members of Knesset who participated in the trip included Deputy Minister of Finance, Member of Knesset Michal Woldiger (Religious Zionism), Member of Knesset Evgeny Sova (Yisrael Beitenu) and Co-Chair, Knesset Caucus for the Jewish People, Member of Knesset Yitzhak Pindrus (Faction Chair, United Torah Judaism) and Chair of the Special Committee for Public Petitions, Member of Knesset Ohad Tal (Religious Zionism) and Chair of the Public Projects Committee, Member of Knesset Orit Farkash-HaCohen (National Unity), Member of Knesset Brig. General (Res) Sharon Nir (Yisrael Beitenu), Member of Knesset Shalom Danino (Likud) and Member of Knesset Vladimir Beliak (Yesh Atid).
Jewish Agency Chairman of the Board of Governors Mark Wilf said, "When we talk about Jewish unity, we are talking about an unbreakable bond that is based on understanding one another. I was delighted to meet the delegation of Knesset members who came to experience the wonderful vibrancy of American Jewish life and hear their impressions. There is no replacement for these types of in-person exchanges to build real understanding and foster the unity that has sustained our people for generations."
For more than a decade, Jewish Federations and The Jewish Agency have partnered together to bring dozens of members of Knesset to North America to deepen their understanding of Jewish life in the U.S and Canada. The MK trip is one of many initiatives that Jewish Federations and The Jewish Agency spearhead in order to advance dialogue between North American Jewry and Israel and to strengthen bonds between the two communities.
This year’s MK trip, as in previous trips, was led by Rebecca Caspi, Director General of the Israel Office of Jewish Federations of North America and Senior VP of its Israel & Overseas Programs, and Josh Schwarcz, Secretary General of The Jewish Agency for Israel.