JUNE 16, 2023
THE connection between Diaspora Jews and the state of Israel is more crucial today than ever, the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS’s new shaliach says.
The Zionist Federation of Australia (ZFA) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) last week welcomed Tobias Siegal to the position. He is the first shaliach to arrive since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and will be taking on the role for the next two years.
As AUJS shaliach, Siegal expects to support AUJS initiatives and serve as a connecting link between Israel and the Jewish young adult community in Australia.
“For me, I think people forget that Israel was established through and thanks to the Jewish Diaspora” he said.
“There’s a prevailing notion that [Israelis] are independent and we know ourselves best, but we owe it to ourselves and to Diaspora Jews to maintain that connection.”
He said he still needs to learn about AUJS and its unique audience and challenges.
“I think this phase in life, being a student, being exposed to so many different and opposing ideas regarding Israel and your place in society can be very challenging and disorienting,” he said.
“I want to show these students that not only do we need you, but we want your voice, and we want you to be involved.”
The ZFA and JAFI look forward to bringing more shlichim from Israel to the Australian Jewish community.
ZEA CEO Ginette Searle said it was “wonderful” that Jewish Agency shlichim are coming back to Australia after a significant hiatus brought on by the pandemic.
“We are excited to welcome such an enthusiastic shaliach with a breadth of skills and experience.
Tobias will add tremendous value to AUJS and more broadly to the Jewish community,” she said.
“We are certain that Tobias will make a lasting impact and wish him every success as he assumes his new role.”
Australia-based JAFI representative, Orit Elkayam-Cohen, said the students and the community are excited to work with Siegal, as part of JAFI’s global mission in placing Israeli emissaries on university campuses around the world.
“The Jewish Agency has hundreds of campus shlichim around the world and Tobi will be able to use this network to connect the Australian students with their colleagues in the world,” she said.
“He is the first of many shlichim who will come to work in the Jewish community in Australia and we look forward to seeing them all in action.”