Gael Grunewald, Vice Chair of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and Head of the Education Department, speaks to Israel National News about the success of the organization’s emissary program.
Each year, the WZO sends special emissaries of the Education Department, husbands and wives who are teachers, to educate Jewish diaspora communities around the world.
The Education Department sends around 100 emissaries annually on this mission to educate and teach Judaism and Hebrew to Jews in global communities.
“We have every year, [about] a hundred principals from schools all over the world who ask us to send emissaries ‘because we need to have Israel in our school,’” Grunewald says. “We send emissaries to make the connection between the youth in the diaspora and the youth of Israel, which is very important for the future of communities all over the world.”
He stresses the importance of having professional teachers if you are teaching Judaism or Hebrew.
“Here in Israel we have these teachers who are ready to be emissaries and to try to give a nice picture of the State of Israel,” he explains.
They not only teach Hebrew and Judaism but they bring with them the spirit of Israel. He describes them as the “ambassadors of Israel” to diaspora communities.
“Every emissary is actually a real ambassador of Israel, meaning he has to explain about Israel, he has to explain about what are your options if you want to live in Israel, if you want to study in Israel,” he says.
He notes that currently the emissaries are being asked to talk about the judicial reforms that the government is trying to pass, to give an explanation as to what is going on in Israel.
“For us is very important to present both sides of the topic because it’s very important to share with our students and our teachers that Israel wants to make a change. This part of the state of Israel thinks like this, and we have of course another side of the society which thinks in another way,” he says.
The WZO recruit couples and families to be emissaries in Israel, presenting their message to schools in the Jewish diaspora that they are there for them to send them teachers.
But Grunewald emphasizes that schools do not need encouragement. They “really want to work with us” and they frequently are the ones contacting WZO asking for emissaries.
“My message is [aimed at] the Israelis in order to convince them that it's very important for them and for the schools, to make the connection between them and the school in order to have emissaries to do the work, which is so important for their communities and also for us,” he says.
“I have to tell you that also for Israel it is very important to have teachers spending two years or three years outside of Israel in order to learn about the community. They come back to Israel with extra value and with the things that they learn all over the world.”