The number of shlichim (emissaries) dispatched by the Jewish Agency for Israel to Diaspora communities has increased by about one-third since 2010, the Jewish Agency announced March 5.
Of the 1,730 shlichim working in the Jewish world this year, roughly 1,300 are the young Israelis who will serve as counselors at summer camps, primarily in North America. In 2010, only 1,300 Jewish Agency emissaries filled all shaliach roles (camp and others).
Jewish Agency emissaries receive intensive training and are equipped with the tools to combat expressions of hate against Jews and Israel. They concentrate on strengthening young Jews’ Jewish identities and connections to Israel, boosting Jewish life, and presenting Jews with opportunities to experience life in Israel.
Israelis play prominent roles at all the region’s sleep away camps, as well as some of the day camps.
“Jewish Agency emissaries share the Israeli story with Jewish young people abroad in a direct and personal way,” said Yehuda Setton, the director of the Jewish Agency’s Shlichim and Israel Fellows Unit. “The emissaries are the best way to bring young Jews from abroad to experience life in Israel on a range of Jewish Agency programs, as well as to increase their familiarity with Israel and deepen their sense of attachment to the Jewish state.”
The sharp increase in the number of emissaries reflects increased demand by Jewish communities, which value the young Israeli educators’ ability to strengthen Jewish identity and attachment to Israel.
The number of communities hosting Jewish Agency emissaries has also grown significantly since 2010; beyond North America, shlichim are posted in Western and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Latin America, Australia, and South Africa.
In addition to the 1,300 emissaries at summer camps, some 430 Israelis are serving in communities for extended periods, including 80 Jewish Agency Israel Fellows to Hillel, who serve tens of thousands of Jewish students on roughly 150 college campuses, and more than 100 ShinShinim, who are Israeli teens spending a post-high-school gap year volunteering in Diaspora communities.