Strapped for cash (probably because it…
… squandered so much of it over the years on nepotism and general theft), the Jewish Agency is now turning to select big money haredi donors to fund programs primarily meant to target non-haredi youth from abroad.
The Agency will now work with the haredi-controlled Moreshet program, a competitor of Birthright Israel.
In exchange for haredi money, the Agency will promote and aid Moreshet programs – meaning big haredi kiruv now has unqualified entry to every Hillel House and Jewish Community Center:
Haredi philanthropists already fund a program called Moreshet ("heritage"). Over the past several months, Moreshet has facilitated the arrival of some 900 Jewish students from all over the world. Unlike the more secular 10-day Taglit-birthright Israel program - which is partly funded by the Jewish Agency - Moreshet brings its participants for three-week visits that include more religious content, such as visits to yeshivas and Torah studies.Aish and Chabad have long exploited Birthright Israel, using it to fund trips meant for "at risk" teens on one hand, and other trips aimed at "outreach" on the other.
"The Moreshet program is a partnership between various parties seeking to instill young Jews with knowledge about Judaism - and the Agency sees great importance in connecting them to the state of Israel," a spokesman for the Jewish Agency said.
The new Jewish Agency program will be one of a series of programs funded by religious and ultra-Orthodox magnates.
Africa Israel chief Lev Leviev, for example, is funding a program that offers a $150-a-month scholarship for Russian Jews who agree to attend Judaism classes several days a week. Ze'ev and Aaron Wolfson are funding similar programs in the U.S., and Eli Horn is funding one in Brazil.
Ultra-Orthodox donors have in the past sought to get on board the Taglit-birthright program, and some have contributed. However, their involvement remained limited after they realized the plan's architects were reluctant to accept their requests to introduce more Jewish, rather than Zionist, content into the program.
As long as certain basic criteria were met, Birthright allowed this.
But haredim were still reluctant to push a program that was not primarily directed at yeshiva study or kiruv.
So now haredim get what they want – a Jewish Agency-backed program with little (if any) Zionist content meant to make kids frum.
And if these kids decide to make aliya, many will do so as haredim. Just what Israel needs – more citizens who won't serve in the army or work.
The next time you consider donating to your local Federation, keep in mind a chunk of that donation goes to the Jewish Agency. Consider stipulating that your donation cannot be used to fund the Agency. And make sure to drop the Agency a line telling them of your choice.