הרצוג עם ילדי עולים באירוע הפרידה
הרצוג עם ילדי עולים באירוע הפרידה צילום: אוליביה פיטוסי עבור הסוכנות היהודית

A diverse array of individuals who participated in The Jewish Agency for Israel’s programs under outgoing Chairman of the Executive and President-elect Isaac Herzog’s tenure bid farewell to him in a festive ceremony on Monday in Jerusalem.

The ceremony took place at The Jewish Agency’s courtyard two days before he’s set to be sworn in as President of Israel.

“The Jewish Agency is doing holy work on behalf of the Jewish people. After 2,000 years of exile, we had the opportunity to return and build a miraculous and robust country. I’m grateful for the incredible opportunity to lead such an amazing organization that works day and night for Jews around the world, serving as a bridge upon which four and a half million immigrants made Aliyah to Israel and established more than 900 communities throughout the country,” said Chairman Herzog. “The Jewish Agency also protects Jews around the world, dispatches thousands of Shlichim around the globe and brings hundreds of young men and women to Israel so they can experience the country firsthand. We’re a small nation of a mere 14.5 million among the 7 billion people in the world, and have a unique legacy and a bright future. May we have peace and prosperity in our land, for both veteran Israelis and new immigrants.”

After three years as Chairman of The Jewish Agency, Herzog received warm congratulations and blessings from new olim (immigrants), volunteers from world Jewry and young individuals from Israel’s periphery. Also joining Chairman Herzog on stage was Jewish Agency Director-General Amira Ahronoviz and Jewish Agency Executive-Director Hanan Mor.

"In these complex times both at home and abroad, I'm confident in President-elect Herzog's desire and ability to be a unifying force for all the people of Israel and Jewish communities around the world. I, and The Jewish Agency family, wish him all the best as he moves on to the President’s Residence," Ahronoviz said.

Matadel Sisai and Oliana Goodim, a 14-year-old oleh from Ethiopia and an 11-year-old oleh from Ukraine respectively, offered sage words of advice to Chairman Herzog as he moves into the President’s Residence. “Even if your new surroundings seem unfamiliar to you, just remember it is your home in the same way that Israel is our home.”

Also on hand to offer their well-wishes was Sarah Shmela and Rudy Haziza, two olim from France who met at The Jewish Agency’s Ulpan Etzion, and invited Chairman Herzog to attend their upcoming wedding.

Other young adults whose lives were changed because of The Jewish Agency also shared their stories of triumph. Bar Harfoof, a graduate of a pre-army mechina in Beer Sheva spoke about how the organization helped him realize his dream of enlisting in the Israel Defense Forces, despite coming from a socially challenged background.

Jasmine Lobinisky, a MASA participant who volunteered at a start-up that provides emergency equipment to residents in the periphery, discussed her plans to make Aliyah (immigration to Israel) and build a future for herself in Israel, also congratulated Chairman Herzog on embarking on the next chapter in his career.

The emotional event signified the impact that Jewish Agency initiatives have in changing the trajectory of the lives of Jewish people around the world, with many of those affected offering their gratitude to Chairman Herzog.

"Seeing olim from so many backgrounds come bid farewell to Chairman Herzog is a testament not only to the robust Jewish life around the world, but to The Jewish Agency's efforts to enhance, support and give a platform to these communities. I have no doubt that President-elect Herzog will carry the moving stories heard today with him to the President’s Residence as they reflect the global Jewish people and the hard work of an organization that is near to his heart," Ahronoviz added.

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