Israel@70: Shape What's Next

UJA has $70,000 more to invest in Israel. You decide where it goes.

At 70, Israel is the ultimate start-up nation. And with an annual investment of $35 million, we’re as committed as ever to supporting the vision of a vibrant, democratic, Jewish state, where all citizens have equal opportunities for economic participation, social integration, and religious expression.

To ensure that this vision continues for the next 70 years and beyond, we’re investing in some of the most pressing issues of the day, issues that are shaping the fabric of Israeli society. Raising the dialogue around pluralism and religious freedom. Strengthening the bond between Israelis and American Jewry. And bridging divides —ensuring that all citizens have a stake in Israel’s future.

We’ve studied the landscape. We’ve vetted hundreds of programs and initiatives. And now it’s your turn to bring this work to life.

  • Which issue should be awarded $70K to advance Israeli society? 
  • Which solution creates the change you want to see?
  • Which program will have the greatest impact?

Because you love Israel and are invested in its future, who gets this funding is up to you. Voting is open and accessible to all. Anyone in our community who wants a vote, gets a vote.

So join the party and use your voice.  

Advocating for Religious Acceptance of all Jews

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The Issue: Birth, marriage, divorce, burial, and conversion. Nothing is more personal. We take for granted that different streams of Judaism approach these major milestones through a different lens. But in Israel, where government and religion are intertwined, there are far fewer choices. Forced to work with the religious establishment, many Jewish- Israelis feel trapped in a bureaucratic system that doesn’t reflect their values.

The Solution: Raise awareness about the diversity of Jewish expression in Israel. Give Israeli-Jews a space to be heard. And advocate for religious alternatives to the Rabbinate.

ITIM, an Israeli nonprofit, is doing all this and more, boldly taking on this serious issue with a multi-pronged approach. ITIM runs a call in center, provides legal counsel, and offers alternative ways to convert that are still in keeping with Jewish law. Most important, ITIM’s not being quiet about the changes it seeks. ITIM’s media activities and trainings are helping to redefine to Israelis what Judaism will look like for the next millennia. 

Putting Haredi Men on the Path to Financial Stability

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The Issue: Basic math, English, and science skills are critical to forging a successful career path and achieving financial independence.  While Haredi women are exposed to secular studies in high school with the expectation that they’ll be their family’s primary breadwinner, Haredi boys only learn religious subjects. It’s no surprise then that only 50.9% of Haredi men participate in the workforce and more than 50% of Haredi men drop out of college. As the population grows, the poor state of education for Haredi men is an issue that is impacting the national economy.

The Solution: Cutting edge schools that combine secular and Torah learning.

A small group of brave educators are challenging the status quo — and two schools are gaining traction. The first, Hachmey Lev, just graduated its inaugural class. The other, Torah Academy, is one of the first of its kind in the Hassidic community. These start-up schools are creating a new model of education that is empowering the next generation of Haredi citizens to become agents of change in Israeli society. 

Developing Job Opportunities for Arab Citizens of Israel

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The Issue: A full 20% of Israelis are Arab. Yet Arab citizens are underrepresented in the workplace, which negatively impacts Israel’s economy as a whole. Investing in human capital of all Israelis will create a more equal society and fuel the country’s economic growth.

The Solution: Create a diverse corporate sector.

Collective Impact for Arab Employment was founded with seed-funding from UJA to create a more diverse workforce. The organization dares to ask: What are the barriers that are preventing companies from hiring minorities? To answer, Collective Impact works with top companies to make them understand that a wider, more diverse talent pool can help their bottom line. The result is a win-win, growing business by investing in Arab talent who may have been excluded in the past. We hope to reach the critical juncture where diversity becomes the norm, rather than the exception, among Israel’s largest employers.

Providing a Pre-Army Headstart for Disadvantaged Youth

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The Issue:  The army experience is to Israelis what a college education is to Americans. It’s what sets you on the path to success in life. That’s why for young people from a disadvantaged background, the army experience — a one-time opportunity to level the playing field — matters even more.

The Solution: Give young people a pre-army head-start.

Aharai (Follow Me!) is a program that asks: How can we help disenfranchised youth (including Ethiopian, Haredi, and other marginalized groups) to overcome the odds? How can we tap into a spirit of motivation and learning to prepare young people to integrate into mainstream society and become successful members of the IDF? Aharai operates 200 activity centers throughout the country, where 5,000 teenagers participate in young leadership programs, IDF preparatory groups, and matriculation learning centers. With this support, young people who may otherwise have fallen through the cracks, enter the IDF ready to face new challenges, serve their country, and be the kind of leaders Israel needs.

Vote Now!

   Voting ends June 5.

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