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May 30, 1986 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-05-30

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16 Friday, May 30, 1986


sure to undertake a fundamental re-
examination of the system. In September
1984, a commission of distinguished
Israelis was appointed by Arye Leon
Dulzin, chairman of the WZO Executive,
to review the entire system and submit
proposals for change. The panel was
headed by a former chief justice of the
Supreme Court, Moshe Landau, and in
December 1985 it submitted its report.
The conclusions of the Landau Commis-
' sion, which called for far-reaching changes
in the organization of shlichut, were
adopted in principle by the WZO Ex-
ecutive last month, although it is not clear
just how and when the recommendations
will be implemented.

There are 277 WZO shlichim in North
America out of a total of 722 throughout
the world, who are sent for a two or three-
year period. The types of shlichim dis-
cussed here are those whose impact on
American Jewish communities has become
an issue in recent years. These types are
as follows (with figures given for North
America as a whole, although the vast ma-
jority of each category are in the U.S.):
* The 35 aliya shlichim sent by the Aliya
Department, whose job it is to promote
aliya (immigration to Israel) in the com-
munities where they are located, to recruit
for certain long and short-term Israel pro-
grams, to provide detailed information
about conditions in Israel and benefits of-
fered to those making aliya, and to process
applications for immigration for those who
decide to make their home in Israel.
* The 40 community shlichim sent by
the Youth and Hehalutz Department,
whose job is broadly defined as bringing
the spirit and presence of Israel into com-
munity institutions through various types
of programs, and recruiting young people

Where Do All Our Dollars Go?

for short term programs in Israel. About
15 community shlichim hold joint appoint-
ments as aliya shlichim, which means that
the total number of personnel in both cate-
gories is about 60.
* The 70 youth movement shlichim also
dispatched by the Youth and Hehalutz
Department, who are assigned to local
chapters of Zionist youth movements such
as Bnei Akiva and Habonim, or to the
larger North American Jewish youth
organizations such as the National Federa-
tion of Temple Youth or BBYO. In addi-
tion, they do Israel-related work on college
campuses. Most also organize groups for
settlement in Israel.
* The 145 teacher-shlichim or other per-

sonnel sent by two WZO education units,
the Department of Torah Education and
Culture in the Diaspora (111), controlled
by the Orthodox, and the non-Orthodox or
"general" Department of Education and
Culture in the Diaspora (34). The teachers
are employed by schools in local communi-
ties, while the other staff deployed by the
departments in regional or national offices
is charged with disseminating materials or
programs prepared by their respective
Eight other WZO departments have one
or two shlichim in North America, in ad-
dition to an Agency shaliah for Youth
The networks of shlichim throughout
America are controlled and funded from
the American headquarters of the WZO at
515 Park Avenue in New York, where each
department has its local staff and senior
representatives from Jerusalem. This loca-
tion is also the seat of the American
Zionist establishment. This address is
popularly known as the "Jewish Agency
building," but this is no longer correct.

Since the separation of the two bodies in
1971, the drab 13-story office building
with the menorah over the entrance has
been officially dubbed the headquarters of
the WZO-American Section, Inc.
Most of the WZO departments operate
under the official aegis of the WZO-
American Section, which refers to the seg-
ment of the American Zionist leadership
that sits on the WZO Executive. This
group of 12 leaders has nominal responsi-
bility for what the departments do at 515
Park Avenue as well as out in the field. In
reality, however, the influence of the
American Zionists is minimal, and most of
the strings that control the shlichim lead
back to Jerusalem. The shlichim sent by
the Youth and Hehalutz Department are
under the nominal supervision of an
American body known as the American
Zionist Youth Foundation, but here too
the influence of Jerusalem is dominant.
The $12 million annual budget of 515
Park Avenue includes $4 million for ad-
ministration and operating expenses;
$1.15 million to pay the salaries of 140
employees who are not shlichim, although
this group includes many wives of shlic-
him, and even a few yordim (Israeli emi-
grants); and $4.85 million for the salaries
and operating expenses of the shlichim
around the country.
It costs the WZO about $60,000 a year
to bring a shaliach and his or her family
to the'U.S. The total cost of shlichut is ac-
tually much higher, since the host com-
munities or organizations of many shlic-
him cover some of their personal expenses,
office costs and program expenses from
their own budgets. In addition, there are
departmental support system costs in
Jerusalem, and a central WZO unit for the
training of shlichim that costs about
$500,000 a year to maintain.


he Landau report conclud-
ed that the "institution of
Zionist shlichut is in a
state of crisis, and there
are many in Israel and
abroad who doubt whether
the existence of shlichut in
its present format is justi-
fied." The crisis is both ideological and
organizational. The original ideological
thrust of Zionist shlichut was shaped
against the background of Eastern Europe
in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Jewish life then staggered under the com-
bined pressures of official anti-Semitism,
assimilation, economic and social persecu-
tion and physical destruction. The climate
today in the free Jewish communities of
the West requires a redefinition of Zion-
ism's ideological appeal, the report
On the organizational side, the commis-
sion noted that shlichim are sent to the
same country and even to the same

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