Ever since the horrific kidnapping and murder of their son Gilad, together with Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, HY”D, in June of 2014, Bat-Galim and Ofer Shaer have undertaken projects throughout Israel and internationally that promote Jewish unity and cohesiveness. Through their SonShine Foundation they have promoted a positive attitude and sense of optimism among all segments of the Jewish community, particularly in times of challenge and crisis.
Recently, the Shaers launched a new project through the foundation that they have been promoting worldwide through online sites. The initiative, named “Jewish Connection,” is an international competition for an idea that will “strengthen the bonds between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry.”
Currently, the worldwide Jewish population is being calculated at 14 million individuals, half of whom reside in Israel. This sizeable number represents great potential for strength provided that the two populations, in Israel and outside of Israel, work together to promote working bonds, not only for crises but for setting new goals and dreams.
According to Bat-Galim, “The competition is unique in the depth and breadth of the cooperation that it has garnered across the globe. To date, over 40 organizations have signed on to promote it. The very existence of the competition has already raised awareness of the need to strengthen the bond among Jews throughout the world.” Among the 40 organizations that are promoting the competition are The Jewish Agency for Israel, International Bnei Akiva, Hillel, The Lookstein Center, The Mizrachi World Movement, Nefesh B’Nefesh, OU Israel, Prizmah and the World Union of Jewish Students.
The competition is seeking an idea by an individual or group of individuals that will bring about a significant change in the present relationship between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry. The SonShine Foundation will award a cash prize of $10,000 to the proponents of the idea. Beyond the generous cash prize, the foundation will work to fund and execute the idea internationally.
The application process has two rounds. In each, proposals may be submitted in any one of six languages including French, Spanish, German and Russian, as well as Hebrew and English. Applicants will complete a form including personal information and a brief description of the challenge they wish to address. The deadline for the first submission is March 7, 2019.
Those invited to participate in the second round will be asked to submit a more detailed description of their proposal and their target population.The deadline for this second round is March 31, 2019.
Following an initial screening, proposals will be reviewed by a professional team that will be guided by the parameters listed on the website. An international advisory committee of worldwide Jewish leaders will score each proposal and select the top three to be presented to a final panel of judges. Among those who will serve on the advisory committee are Isaac Herzog, chairman of the Jewish Agency; Dani Dayan, Israeli consul general of New York; Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, chief rabbi of Moscow; Ron Prosor, former Israeli ambassador; and Dalia Rabin, chair of the Rabin Center.
The third stage will include two parallel components. First, the rating of each of the final three proposals by a panel of three judges. Second, a public vote that will take place in May of 2019. A weighted average of the two tracks will reveal the winner.
Ofer shared, “We are hopeful that the winning idea derived from this competition will advance our vision of bringing about a significant change in the dynamics of the relationship between Israeli and Diaspora Jewry and will strengthen the overall perception and appreciation of Jewish peoplehood.”
To learn more about The SonShine Foundation, visit http://sonshine.org.il.
To submit an application for the competition, go to http://gcc.sonshine.org.il.
By Pearl Markovitz