Evangelical-funded Organization Hires New Director for Its Aliyah Operation

Ofer Dahan, like his predecessor, is a former senior Jewish Agency official.

Yechiel Eckstein in the offices of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews: 'I would never want to say that Christian money is replacing Jewish money, but we are definitely filling in the gaps.'
Emil Salman

The new aliyah operation set up by the International Fellowship for Christians and Jews has a new director: former senior Jewish Agency official Ofer Dahan.

Dahan replaces Eli Cohen, another former Jewish Agency recruit who stepped down barely two months after assuming this top position at the evangelical Christian-funded organization headed by Rabbi Yehiel Eckstein, an American-born immigrant. 

A former Jewish Agency emissary in South Africa, Dahan was considered a rising star at the organization. For the past four years, Dahan served as director of development at Na’aleh, a high school program run by the Jewish Agency that caters to teenage immigrants. Prior to that, he oversaw activities pertaining to the immigration and absorption of Ethiopian Jewry.

Dahan is the latest in a series of senior Jewish Agency officials wooed over to Eckstein’s competing operation.

When Eckstein originally hired Cohen to head his new endeavor, it was considered a major coup, as Cohen had previously served as director of the aliyah department at the Jewish Agency, where he was highly regarded.

Sources familiar with the situation said that Cohen was unhappy with his new boss’s very vocal criticism of the Jewish Agency and its aliyah promotion activities. Eckstein’s new operation focuses primarily on Ukraine, and in recent months has brought two planeloads of immigrants from that country to Israel.

Upon setting up his own independent aliyah operation, Eckstein withdrew millions of dollars a year in support from the Jewish Agency.

Eckstein also recently hired Tali Aronsky, the former Jewish Agency spokesperson in New York, as the spokesperson of his organization in Israel. Jeff Kaye, the former coordinator for financial resource development at the Jewish Agency, also recently assumed a senior position at Eckstein’s organization.