TORONTO — A dinner in Toronto on May 2 will oficially launch a $4-million fund-raising drive to stem the exodus of young Israelis from Jerusalem.
“We want to turn this thing around,” said Ian Leventhal, executive director of the Jerusalem Foundation in Toronto.
By all accounts, thousands of Israelis, mostly secular Jews, leave Israel’s capital every year in an attempt to improve their lives.
“Jerusalem right now has a problem,” said Leventhal, citing limited job opportunities, a lack of affordable housing, a lagging education system and the reluctance of secular Jews to live among a growing population of haredim.
The mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, has warned that the “strongest” sector of its population will leave unless “current trends” end.
Data from the mayor’s office made available to The CJN suggests that the problem is extremely grave.
From 2001 to 2007, 113,000 residents of Jerusalem left the city. Forty seven per cent of them were Jewish young adults between the ages of 24-35.
Further, the majority of students studying in Jerusalem leave after earning their academic degrees.
Barkat believes that without this young adult segment of its population, Jerusalem cannot renew itself, generate change or bring life to its urban spaces.
He wants to strengthen Jerusalem by upgrading it in terms of housing, employment, community and culture.
The keynote speaker at next month’s dinner, to be held at The Carlu, will be George Will, the conservative American syndicated newspaper columnist.
The dinner is sponsored by the Jerusalem Foundation, which seeks to safeguard Jerusalem’s future as Israel’s capital.