Avinoam Bar-Yosef, the founding director of the independent think tank Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI), has announced that he will retire from the organization effective October 2020.

Announcing his departure a year in advance to ensure a smooth transition and search for a new director, Bar-Yosef reflected on his founding of the Jerusalem-based institute in 2002, which aims to influence decision makers and strategically tackle the challenges, threats and opportunities that face the Jewish people.

Through action-oriented policy recommendations for the Israeli government and major Jewish organizations worldwide, Bar-Yosef spoke of his role as a “culmination of a 54-year impassioned journey that began with my service in the [Israel Defense Forces] and included 12 years at Kol Yisrael [radio], 17 years at Maariv as chief diplomatic correspondent in Jerusalem and later Washington bureau chief, and four years as a senior adviser to the then JAFI chairman, Sallai Meridor, who was critical to the launch of this venture.”

“As I have always felt Jewish first, the 18 years at JPPI was the opportunity of a lifetime—to create this body in the service of my people,” said Bar-Yosef in JPPI’s Monday press release, thanking his staff and the board, co-chaired by ambassadors Stuart Eizenstat and Dennis Ross. “I am also grateful to the Jewish Agency for encouraging the establishment of JPPI as an independent policy institute,” he said.

Former U.S. envoy to the Middle East and counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Dennis Ross said of Bar-Yosef, “No one I have ever known has been more dedicated to Israel and the Jewish people. For the last 18 years, I have had the privilege to work with Avinoam, learn from him and see how he has brilliantly led the JPPI—constantly looking ahead and anticipating both threats to counter and opportunities to exploit for the betterment and wellbeing of the Jewish people. He has built a remarkable institute and leaves us with big shoes to fill.”

Eizenstat, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union and special adviser on Holocaust issues to former U.S. President Barack Obama, praised Bar-Yosef for his inspired leadership, which “has made JPPI into a unique and widely admired think tank,” and has shaped it into an institution that is “always focusing on timely issues facing the Jewish world.”

“Avinoam assembled a world-class group of scholars and experts who prepare JPPI’s Annual Assessment of the Situation and Dynamics of the Jewish People, and work on critical Jewish people issues, such as relations with China and India, the role of religion and Jewish identity, BDS and a series of global Diaspora-Israel dialogues on issues of mutual interest and concern,” said Eizenstat.

“As a colleague and friend, his leadership will be deeply missed, but I know he will continue to stay engaged in the work of JPPI,” he added.

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