The Jewish Agency's new chairman has said he will do "everything in my power" to fight the “growing feeling that Diaspora Jews are drifting away from Israel”, calling it a "trend that’s increasingly dividing us.”
Last week, Isaac Herzog took charge of the organisation whose stated aim is to "inspire Jews throughout the world to connect with their people, heritage, and land, and empower them to build a thriving Jewish future and a strong Israel" and it has facilitated the immigration of millions of Jews to Israel over the last seven decades.
Speaking in New York on Friday during his first foreign trip in the role, Mr Herzog said: “Jewish people around the world and in Israel share a love for the Land of Israel and the State of Israel.
“While we have a sincere desire to maintain and strengthen the connection between us, I’m very aware of the growing feeling that Diaspora Jews are drifting away from Israel. I will do everything in my power to act against this trend that’s increasingly dividing us.
“We are one nation, small amongst nations, that’s facing huge challenges. Only when we are together can we overcome them.”
Mr Herzog, a former leader of Israel’s Zionist Union coalition party whose father was a former president of Israel and grandfather a former Chief Rabbi of the country, visited Jewish Federations in New York, Boston and Philadelphia this week, with trips to other American cities planned for next month.
He said he was visiting America because he “intentionally went out into the field in my first week in office to learn about the unique needs of American communities and to explain my vision for The Jewish Agency to Jewish leaders and activists.
“In the coming weeks and months, I’ll continue these meetings in North America and the rest of the world."
Mr Herzog succeeded Natan Sharansky, the famous former refusenik and politician, in the role.