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James Tisch elected Jewish Agency board chair

JTA

February 22, 2011 | 10:17 am

James Tisch, who has held several key positions in the Jewish world, has been elected as chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel’s board of governors.

Tisch, 58, the president and CEO of the Loews Corp., was elected Tuesday during the board’s meeting in Jerusalem to succeed Richard Pearlstone, who has served in the post since 2007.

Among his positions of Jewish leadership, Tisch has served as board chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and president of UJA-Federation of New York.

On Monday, the board of governors approved a restructuring of the agency to help it focus on connecting young Diaspora Jews with Israel and increasing aliyah, according to a strategic plan developed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

The plan aims to provide solutions to the challenges facing the Jewish world, including a distancing of young Diaspora Jews from their Jewish identity and the end of the era of “aliyah of distress” to Israel.

In a bid to connect young Jews to Israel and increase aliyah, one focus of the plan will be to create a series of Israel experiences and build unique aliyah tracks. The second area of focus will be increasing social activism of young Israelis and young Jews from around the world in projects for strengthening Israeli society and “tikkun olam,” or repairing the world.

“We are entering a new era,” Sharansky said. “The motivation to make aliyah is driven today by strong Jewish-Zionist identity and not by economic distress or lack of security. So in order to increase aliyah in the future, the Jewish-Zionist identity of young people in the Diaspora must be strengthened and their connection with the State of Israel deepened.”

The Jewish Agency will continue to work to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel and prepare them for life in Israel, and to provide special attention to the unique needs of Russian speakers and new immigrants from the countries of the former Soviet Union, according to a statement released by the agency. The organization also plans to place more emissaries on campuses in North America in light of the delegitimization campaign against Israel.

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