But in the wake of the scandal caused by former agency candidate Elazar Stern biting anonymous complaints to the IDF, Kotler-Wunsch added his gender as another reason the committee should choose: “It’s 2021—I think That it is clear that it is time.”
“Up until now all the chairs in the agency were men, it can’t hurt if there’s a woman, [and] Not just because she is a woman,” she said. “All female candidates are eligible, and may the best female win. Being a woman is another piece. This approach is about diversity. Signs of change in women’s leadership, which the agency is looking for.”
Cotler-Wunsh stressed that such a decision should not be reactive in the aftermath of the Stern scandal. He said there is a severe lack of female leadership in Jewish organizations.
“Women leaders have proven time and again that they bring different qualities to their leadership, including being more cooperative,” she said. “It’s the key to reaching and connecting with the younger generation.”
After Stern’s departure, the government is looking for a new candidate to support. Cotler-Wunsh said she could be the candidate because she knows the ministries and hallways of the Knesset, and because she has proven she can cooperate across party lines. She left Blue & White and is not currently affiliated with any party.
Cotler-Wunsh was born in Jerusalem in 1970, but grew up in Canada, and moved back to Israel with the help of the Jewish agency she now wants to run.
“It is important that the agency chief is not affiliated with just one political voice, because political affiliation is divisive,” she said. “I have the ability to transcend religious and secular and political divisions, because I am not affiliated with any region, or one party or any other. I don’t mind talking to everyone. I live in a pluralistic community. Grown up. -Grown up. It doesn’t matter what I pray, because I don’t judge the personal practice of others.”
Cotler-Wunsh is currently the head of Nefesh B’Nefesh’s Institute for Aliyah Strategy and Policy, which aims to identify and advance constructive long-term policy and legal changes related to the immigration, absorption and integration of Olim.
She is also a Senior Advisor to the Jewish Associations of North America, where her role is to identify, initiate and engage with JFNA stakeholders, leadership and communities across North America; and challenging paradigms, critically examining relations, and designing strategies to enable the renewal of the covenant between Israel and North American Jewry.
He is close to Natan Sharansky, the former head of the agency, who came to his first speech at the Knesset. He also spoke to the agency’s former chairman and current chairman, Isaac Herzog, as he considered moving on.
Before his formal interview for the position, Kotler-Wunsch personally met with each member of the selection committee, and is confident of selecting the best candidate at the moment.
“The Jewish Agency is the most important platform to bridge, heal and reshape the paradigm of relations between Israel and the diaspora,” she said. “We need to level the playing field and ensure this is a two-way bridge, including teaching Israeli decision makers to take into account the needs of the diaspora.
“I am part of the living bridge, and have a tremendous responsibility to ensure that what matters in translation is not lost. At this urgent time in our history the agency must unite Israel and World Jewry. For one can be great agent