Jewish Agency Announces Biggest Cutbacks in Its 90-year History

Agency to offer nearly 10 percent of its staff early retirement packages ■ Sources: Decline in donations from Jewish philanthropies behind layoffs

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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Isaac Herzog.
Jewish Agency chief Isaac Herzog.Credit: AFP
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

The Jewish Agency is about to implement major cutbacks in staff as part of a wide-ranging reorganization and restructuring program.

According to an agreement signed this week, the Agency, the largest Jewish non-profit in the world, will offer 70 of its 800 employees in Israel early retirement packages. It is the largest reduction in personnel implemented by the Agency since its establishment 90 years ago.

An ongoing decline in donations from major Jewish philanthropies overseas made the cutbacks necessary, according to senior sources at the Agency. The Jewish Federation of North America, its single largest donor, has reduced its annual allocations to the Agency dramatically in recent years.

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The Agency’s main areas of focus are promoting aliyah, helping immigrants integrate into Israeli society and educating Jews abroad about Israel.

It is likely, sources said, that as part of the restructuring effort, the vision of the organization will be redefined to reflect new realities in the Jewish world and the changing dynamic of the Israel-Diaspora relationship. It could, therefore, likely include a new mission statement.

The effort is being led by Isaac Herzog, the former Labor party leader, who took over as the Agency’s chairman last August.