The Israeli government is planning a major investment to promote Jewish and Israeli culture around the world as part of a strategic shift in its relationship with the Jewish diaspora.
One of the details of the plan is the establishment of cultural centres — based on the British Council model — in conurbations where there are large Jewish communities.
The programme, formulated by an inter-departmental team headed by Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser, has been authorised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and was presented last week at a closed session at the annual conference of the Jewish People Planning Institute in Jerusalem.
Government officials are branding this plan a “strategic change” since, for the first time, it acknowledges the fact that although the majority of Jews live outside Israel are not planning to emigrate there in the foreseeable future, the Jewish state still has a responsibility to maintain its relationship with them and help them build and preserve their Jewish identity.
The plan’s main components include the foundation of Israeli culture centres within Jewish communities around the world; a year-long training course in Israel for thousands of Jewish diaspora teachers preparing to teach Hebrew and Jewish culture in their communities; and a Tikkun Olam unit that will organise international development voluntary work for young Israelis and diaspora Jews.
It is unclear yet where the funding will come from for this programme, which is estimated to cost NIS 2.5 billion (£400m) over the next five years. It will not be implemented until after the Israeli elections in January and has not yet been budgeted for by the state.