Peace might be just around the corner. Peace in the Jewish communal world, that is.
According to Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, while world leaders are talking about promoting the peace process, he is in fact engaged in such a process. The peace Sharansky was speaking about, during a brunch reception hosted by the Israeli embassy in Washington, was between his own organization and the two philanthropists who founded the Taglit-Birthright Israel program.
Tensions between the Jewish Agency and Birthright are nothing new.
But on Sunday, both Michael Steinhardt and Charles Bronfman were more than happy to show their friendship with Sharansky. The event marked a new beginning for the troubled relationship between Birthright and MASA — a program sponsored by the Jewish Agency that has, at times, been seen as being in competition with Birthright.
MASA, like Birthright, brings young Jews to Israel. But instead of a 10-day visit, it focuses on year-long programs that immerse young Diaspora Jews in Israeli life.
At the meeting, organizers expressed their hope that together the two programs — Birthright and MASA — will be able to reach 100% of Jewish youths around the world.
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
A Peace Process… for Birthright and MASA