The Triguboff Institute expands its activities

August 28, 2020 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The Triguboff Institute, operator of the Maslul Project and Nativ (Liaison Bureau) of the Prime Minister’s Office recently reached a strategic cooperation agreement concerning activities in the post-Soviet states.

A Maslul class in Dnipro, Ukraine

The Triguboff Institute will become the key point of contact at the centres operated by the Israeli offices in all matters related to Jewish heritage, history, and religion/state relations for potential Olim who are eligible under the Law of Return. As a result of the new agreement, the Triguboff Institute is expanding its activities from four centres currently operated jointly with the Jewish Agency to 10 additional “Bayit Yisraeli” adjunct to Israeli Consulate offices throughout the former Soviet Republics , based on digital distance learning methods.

Nativ is a governmental agency within the Prime Minister’s Office whose main function is to reach to Jewish communities in post-Soviet states, encourage and sustain their connection to their Jewish heritage, and facilitate Aliyah from these countries. Nativ is in charge of the Israeli centres that operate alongside the Israeli representative offices in the post-Soviet states, and is also exclusively responsible for the consular offices, whose work focuses mainly on issuing Aliyah visas and Aliyah eligibility certificates based on the Law of Return. Until 1990 Nativ was considered a semi-covert organization, and operated behind the Iron Curtain at great risk.

According to assessments of specialist Jewish Agency departments, there are approximately 800,000  individuals across the post-Soviet states who are eligible for Aliya under the Law of Return, more than half of whom are in Russia and over 250,000 in Ukraine alone. Less than one-half of these individuals are Jews based on Jewish religious law definitions.

The COVID-19 crisis, which led to the closure of the Israeli offices and travel restrictions, effectively stemmed the flow of Aliya from the post-Soviet states. Only a handful of several hundred new Olim from Ukraine, whose visas had been issued before February 2020, arrived in several charter flights since the crisis began.

In recent years, the Triguboff Institute has operated classes in four centres in the post-Soviet states: in Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia, and in Kiev and Dnipro in Ukraine. The Institute gained valuable experience and developed its reputation as the prime source of education on history, Jewish law, and Jewish heritage for Aliyah candidates. The Institute’s curriculum is accredited and counts as part of the religious conversion training required when the Aliyah candidates arrive in Israel. Immediately after the outbreak of the pandemic, the Triguboff program operators, teachers, and coordinators on the ground successfully initiated a shift to online learning. The online activities were very well received by the home-bound learners and the Jewish communities.

In response to the growing needs for contact with Jewish communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Triguboff Institute accelerated its negotiations with Nativ management, and a final cooperation agreement was finalized in the first week of August. This agreement is an important turning point and vote of confidence in the Institute, which has worked fruitfully with Aliyah candidates and Olim from the post-Soviet states for more than a decade. The Triguboff Institute is behind the expansion of the Shorashim Project, and, through the establishment of aid offices in Israel, Russia, and Ukraine, the Institute handled the cases of more than 10,000 Olim jointly with Tzohar, to establish their Jewish lineage and to settle their personal status with the religious authorities and the Ministry of Interior in Israel. The Institute’s Maslul Project, which is in its sixth year of operation in conjunction with the Jewish Agency, operates an accredited conversion preparatory program for Aliyah candidates based on the conversion program operated by the IDF.

The Triguboff Institute’s Shalom Norman responded to a possible “budget cut” in a conference call with representatives of the Agency in Kyiv Ukraine saying “in these days of the crisis, when the flow of immigrants has almost stopped and local political disputes have taken over the discourse, at this very moment we must not abandon and continue to cultivate relations with the Diaspora communities … to guarantee the future of the Zionist enterprise.”


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