Jewish Company CEO: Jews residing in ‘attention-grabbing and paradoxical interval’

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Amira Ahronoviz, 49, was appointed the Jewish Agency’s first female CEO and Director General for Israel in December 2018 by former Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog, and has proven to be effective and innovative in that role. She has led the organization during a difficult time of COVID-19, increasing anti-Semitism and increasing alienation from the younger generation.

Together with Herzog, she devised a comprehensive strategic plan to meet the challenges facing the Jewish people over the next decade, including promoting aliyah from around the world, ensuring the security of Jewish communities worldwide facing anti-Semitism, and empowering them the connection between Israel and the Diaspora.

Under her leadership, The Jewish Agency is focused on serving as a bridge between Israel and the diaspora, building partnerships with hundreds of communities in the diaspora, and sending approximately 2,000 envoys to approximately 60 countries.

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Together with the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod, she was instrumental in setting up a mechanism for the transfer of emergency funds to Jewish communities in crisis situations during the pandemic. They founded JReady to help communities in the diaspora deal with COVID-19 by connecting them to experts and methodology for dealing with emergencies. At the same time, they also set up a fund to help Jewish communities protect Jewish institutions from anti-Semitic attacks.

The Jewish Agency has set up an operations center to help thousands of immigrants from around the world make aliyah despite the pandemic. Despite the airport’s closure and the cancellation of many flights, he managed to bring doctors and nurses to Israel to aid medical efforts here and led the Rock of Israel operation to bring about 2,000 immigrants from Ethiopia. Thousands of young people also came from abroad for career and volunteer programs as part of the Masa Israel Journey, which was funded by the government and the Jewish Agency.

View of the headquarters of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem (Image: YONATAN SINDEL / FLASH 90)

“The corona crisis created a situation in which communities outside of North America – many of them small but fine – that supported the state of Israel for years suddenly collapsed without the ability and infrastructure to survive the effects of the pandemic,” she said The Jerusalem Post. “They sought the help and support of Israel and global organizations like ours. This increased the need for a global Jewish platform that takes care of the essential goods of mutual responsibility. “

Raised in the periphery of Israel, she is focused in Israel on working with Diaspora Jews to empower weaker communities in peripheral communities and invest in young leaders in those communities as well as thousands of elderly and Holocaust survivors working in Amigour Housing live, new immigrants in reception centers, lonely soldiers who did aliyah without their families, victims of terrorism and residents of the communities on the border with the Gaza Strip.

Ahronoviz, who has an MA in Business Management and a graduate of the Mandel Educational Leadership Institute in Jerusalem, has spent several years abroad and lived in diaspora communities.

“Having the chance to grow up in Jewish communities of the Diaspora, to be exposed to the wealth, diversity and mutual responsibility of Jewish life, helped me significantly to define my perception of my Judaism.” Today, “she said. “When I run The Jewish Agency, I do so with an inherent perception from my own personal history.”

She worked for the Jewish Agency for more than 26 years in various functions on site and later in managerial positions – namely as regional director of the Jewish Agency’s loan fund, as director of the partner regions, for eight years as director of budget and finance, VP of strategy and Planning and as Deputy General Director & COO – leading the organization-wide strategic and programmatic development and the operation and monitoring of all program units and the organization’s worldwide operations.

Before becoming CEO, she took a two-year hiatus from The Jewish Agency to participate in the Mandel Educational Leadership Institute’s fellowship program, where her main research area was “Social Impact Investing,” which she believes has tremendous potential to solve the most pressing problems address social challenges through innovative funding vehicles. As a result of this scholarship, she and the Jewish Agency team developed Crowd.IL – a digital platform that uses such instruments to close social gaps in Israeli society and advance the strategic goal of connecting world Jewry with Israel, with a focus on the younger generation.

Jewish agency ‘shlichim’ at the North American Shlichim conference. (Credit: NIR ARIELI)

Ahronoviz is the mother of three children, lives in Mazkeret Batya and is a member of the Keshet Community – a municipal association of religious and secular Jews that operates a common education system as part of a common community with a pluralistic vision. She has been active in the community for 12 years since it was founded, initially as a board member and later in various voluntary functions.

In the past year, Ahronoviz significantly increased the proportion of women in key positions at the Jewish Agency, both in Israel and abroad. In June, for example, she appointed Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh, the first Druze member of the Knesset, to be the top envoy of the Jewish Agency in Washington, DC, where she also supports Israeli engagements at North American universities.

“This unprecedented appointment will raise awareness in the United States of this diverse landscape as part of our efforts to increase understanding of Israel around the world,” she said.

Regarding the current situation in Israel and the Diaspora, Ahronoviz said: “We are living in an interesting and paradoxical time for the Jewish people. Most of them live under free regimes in Israel and abroad where they can lead Jewish life as they please while integrating and influencing the society in which they live. The present period is full of important challenges that threaten the future of the Jewish people. “

When asked what she meant by that, she said, “When Israel was founded, the prevailing paradigm was that all Jews would gather in one place, the State of Israel. Today we know that there are two major centers of almost the same size, one in Israel and one in North America, which are developing in different directions and leading a radically different Jewish lifestyle: minority communities with a general society as opposed to a Jewish majority in one sovereign state that has other minorities.

“It seems that these two centers will forever be different and we need to find ways to connect them without falling into the growing gap between them. Our future depends on the connection and support for a thriving Jewish life in the Diaspora – and these in turn depend on a strong State of Israel that inspires and serves as a source of spirituality. “

Regarding her role as CEO of The Jewish Agency, she concluded, “I believe that The Jewish Agency – the largest Jewish organization in the world, whose uniqueness is that it is the domain of the Jewish people – has the built in strength and that Ability to act as a collective of the entire Jewish people. Therefore, connecting the sections of the Jewish people and ensuring bond and mutual responsibility among Jews is at the heart of our mission, and we understand that this is a mutual bridge. “