A group of Israeli journalists and public opinion makers have had their eyes opened to a part of the Jewish nation they barely considered before by a new project – titled “Community” – that seeks to put the subject of Diaspora Jewry on the Israeli agenda.“Israeli public discourse has virtually no interest in Diaspora Jewry,” explained a statement by Community’s co-creators, the Gesher Leadership Institution and the Diaspora Affairs Ministry.

“The predominant view in Israel is that Diaspora Jewry is obligated to support and invest in the State of Israel, and while we take note of our Diaspora brethren in times of tragedy, familiarity with the world of values and challenges that face Diaspora communities is virtually nonexistent.”

The project sets out to change this. Its third delegation returned last month from Los Angeles, where they visited Jewish schools and college campuses, and met with community members, leaders and rabbis.

Each Community project is comprised of 10 meetings with approximately 20 participants each, and includes an in-depth visit to Jewish communities outside Israel. Thus far, two groups have visited the US and one visited South Africa.“What happens in Israel very much impacts Jews in the Diaspora, and we need to be aware of that – and most Israelis aren’t,” said executive director of Gesher Ilan Geal-Dor. Gesher, together with the Diaspora Ministry, set out to provide encounters with world Jewry to Israelis and expose them to the challenges they face.