In Address to GA, Israeli President Proposes Establishing ‘Reverse Birthright’

'We must increase Israeli exposure to your schools, camps and communities,' Rivlin tells Jewish Federations' GA

President Rivlin addressing the Jewish Federations' GA in Tel Aviv, October 23, 2018.
Eyal Warshavsky

President Reuven Rivlin called for the creation of a “Reverse Taglit-Birthright” program on Monday to help young Israelis acquaint themselves with Jewish communities abroad.

“We must increase Israeli exposure to your schools, camps and communities,” Rivlin, addressing the opening session of the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North American, told more than 2,000 delegates gathered at the Tel Aviv for the three-day program. “They must realize they have a family.”

The title of this year’s GA, being held for the first time ever in Tel Aviv is “We Need to Talk.”

Jewish Federations GA 2018 in Tel Aviv - full coverage

Referring to the event's title, Rivlin said: “I cannot agree more. We need to talk. We have to talk, and we need to listen. We are not strategic allies. We are a family, we are one big family. We don’t have only shared interests – we have a shared faith, history and future and a very bright one. It may not be easy to have a truly honest conversation, but this is what needs to happen.”

The president did not, however, spell out what issues needed to be discussing. He said Israel’s relations with Diaspora were a “value above debate.”

“We cannot escape from returning to table and re-discussing our disputes,” he said.

The General Assembly, an annual gathering of thousands of Jewish Federations of North America, kicked off on Monday in Tel Aviv. The three-day conference includes speakers from Israel and North America, who will speak about the Israel-Jewish Diaspora ties.

Other speakers include Jewish Agency chief and former Labor leader Isaac Herzog, who will be speaking on Tuesday, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is slated to address the GA on Wednesday.