WZO: Strengthening Jewish education globally with 200 emissaries

Arutz Sheva interviews Gael Grunewald, newly elected head of education at the World Zionist Organization.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Gael Grunewald (left) with Yoni Kempinski
Gael Grunewald (left) with Yoni Kempinski
Arutz Sheva

Following his election as the deputy Chair of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and its head of Education, Arutz Sheva spoke with Gael Grunewald.

Grunewald is originally from France and made aliyah when he was eighteen. He is married to Shira and the couple has seven children. They live in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

He is a graduate of the Machon Lev Institute, and has served as secretary-general of Bnei Akiva, chairman of the Council of World Youth Movements, and chairman of partnership Beit Shemesh – Washington/South Africa. He was also the head of the “Hagshama Department” of the WZO, and deputy chairman of KKL – the Jewish National Fund.

His latest role was in WZO when he served as the organization’s head of Rural Growth and Development, commonly known as the “Settlement Division.”

Grunewald begins by describing the important work done by WZO in enhancing Jewish education all over the world, via its network of over 200 emissaries who are sent out to schools in many countries.

“We’re going to be investing much more time and budget in two main areas,” he relates. “Firstly, we want to increase the number of emissaries we’re sending out, and secondly, we want to enhance the level of education they’re providing. These are our main priorities.”

He acknowledges the difficulties in tailoring WZO’s message to all kinds of communities, but stresses that WZO focuses on issues of universal importance to Jews. “This is how we can transmit a common message, which is so important – we focus on the festivals, on Shabbat, on our connection to the Tanach [Jewish Bible]. These are all things that every single Jew needs to know, and these are the areas that we want to strengthen.”

Reflecting back on his time as head of WZO’s “Settlement Division,” Grunewald notes that his efforts went into not only maintaining and strengthening the existing settlements, but also into establishing new communities.

“We definitely need new communities and while I was working there, we did build a new community on Mount Gilboa, called Meital,” he says. “We’re also in the middle of building another new community on the Golan Heights – Ramat Trump. The State of Israel badly needs new settlements, new communities, and I believe that the government recognizes this, but all the same, we often need to exert pressure in order to create the facts on the ground. However, I foresee many new communities being built, and I hope to continue to be part of that.”