Irina Nevzlin, chairwoman board of the Museum of the Jewish People, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday night that she was seriously considering putting forward her candidacy for the chairmanship of the Jewish Agency.
Nevzlin has received international acclaim for her rebuilding and rebranding of the Tel Aviv museum that tells the ongoing story of the Jewish people. If chosen for the post, she would be the first woman to head the agency.
“I have great respect for this important role,” Nevzlin told The Post. “That is why this is such a serious decision.”
Nevzlin was approached by senior officials at the agency, who urged her to run. She has good ties with many of the members of the selection committee, as does her husband, Likud MK and former Diaspora affairs minister, Yuli Edelstein.
“Yuli knows the voters, and he wouldn’t encourage her to run if he didn’t make sure she had enough support to win,” a source at the agency said.
A 10-member selection committee comprised of five representatives of the World Zionist Organization, three of the Jewish Federations of North America and two of Keren Hayesod-United Jewish Appeal, representing world Jewry outside the US, will pick the new agency head in October. The support of nine members of the committee out of 10 is required for a candidate to be chosen.
Intelligence Services Minister Elazar Stern is considered the front-runner for the post but he could be blocked by World Zionist Organization chairman Yaakov Hagoel (Likud), who supports former minister Danny Danon, and by WZO board member Racheli Baratz-Rix (Blue and White), whose party leader, Benny Gantz, has urged her to support former Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevich.
Other candidates include Jerusalem deputy mayor Fleur Hassan Nahoum and former ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor. Former ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, is also considering a bid.
Another new candidate joined the race two weeks ago: Former Likud MK, national security adviser and IDF deputy chief of staff Uzi Dayan.
“I am running to chair the Jewish Agency, because I care about the Jewish people,” Dayan said on Sunday night. “Cohesion of Israel and the Diaspora is a strategic asset. There is plenty to do to strengthen that connection.
Dayan speaks annually on Rosh Hashanah at a Conservative synagogue in Kohav Yair, but when asked if he backs religious pluralism, he would only say “I am in favor of the Jews. I am Jewish, then Israeli. Israel is the state of the Jewish people.”
He is the nephew of storied IDF general and senior politician Moshe Dayan, grandson of MK Shmuel Dayan and cousin of celebrated singer Yehonatan Geffen.
Two weeks ago, Dayan met with President Isaac Herzog, who left his post as agency chairman last month. Both Dayan and Herzog denied a report that the president told Dayan he would support his candidacy.
“The president didn’t tell him to run or not, that he supported him or not,” a source close to Herzog said. “The report is false.”