In Response to a Colleague’s Question

Dear…….,

You raise so many very important questions. We Jews are described as being captives of hope, but sometimes that hope is very difficult to find. I can’t respond to you in any formal or official fashion. I am not a social scientist, I am not a talking head or a political columnist. I am just a Jew, a liberal Jew, a political activist, someone who cares passionately not only about Israel’s survival but about the quality of the Israel that will survive.

My biggest source of hope is in the area now being called “the day after.” The cease-fire is in effect, negotiations are beginning in Cairo, and there is little to no likelihood that the situation will return to the status quote ante. The +80% support for Bibi’s handling of the war will now begin to erode in the aftermath of that war. That is only natural. The right wing will demand answers as to why Bibi did not complete the process of totally annihilating Hamas. The left wing will resume its criticism that much of what led to the current war could have been avoided if there had been a cessation of the building of settlements and a willingness on the part of the government to treat Abbas as a real negotiating partner.

Rivlin’s role in all of this will be absolutely unimportant. Peres still has far greater impact on the Israeli political scene and on the international political scene than Israel’s new president.

Bibi will be confronting an increasingly fractured coalition. He knows that from Bennett to Danon to Lieberman, the challenges to his leadership will be rapidly increasing. Bibi is an historian, and he certainly realizes that he has a long way to go to guarantee his own positive slot in the history of the Jewish people.

Will the prime minister use the opportunity to shake up his coalition, to bring Labor into the government and thus strengthen the power of the Center?

The answers are not written in stone, and therein lies my hope. Those of us living in North America have to do more then worry and kvetch and criticize. We have to be involved in creating coalitions of strength and of influence that can mobilize the power of the North American Jewish community to influence the shaping of political realities in Israel. We have to be willing to express our profound concern over the building of settlements and the lack of engagement with Abbas and his government. We have to be willing to express our profound concern over the lack of Jewish religious freedom, of true democratic pluralism, within the Jewish state.

The changes that must come within Israel’s foreign policy must be paralleled by changes within the Israeli society. And all of those long-overdue changes will only come about with the strong, positive support of the North American Jewish community. Far too often, the liberal wing in North America has held itself off from what it considers to be “inappropriate involvement” in the shaping of Israeli society. We have to get over that hesitation.

There are signs that such strong, positive support may in fact be consolidating. Each of us must take up the responsibility of personal involvement in that consolidation.

We have no control over what the responses will be, in the foreign policy arena, from the other side. We can only be certain of one fact: the status quo cannot be maintained.

And we can be very certain that there are elements within Israeli society that are more than willing to take to the streets in a violent response against any and all efforts to bring true democratic religious freedom to Israel.

The risks in all of this are monumental. If we do not handle our relationships in the foreign-policy arena well, Israel could be exposed to immediate existential threat. If we do not handle the reshaping of Israeli society carefully, we could lose Israel as a 21st-century democratic country. But if we fail to take those risks, the even greater risk is the collapse of the Zionist enterprise.

Literally.

The battlegrounds for North America Jewry will be found in the meeting rooms of all elements of the Jewish Federations of North America, in the American Jewish Committee, in Hiddush, in the URJ, in ARZA, and in other like-minded organizations. Coalitions need to be formed. Activists need to sit together. And hope must be embraced.

In any event, just one person’s opinion.

With warm regards.

Stan

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Rabbi Stanley Davids serves as the president of ARZENU. He currently resides in Israel with his wife Resa. 

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Galilee Diary – Jewish Values

[Jeremiah] spoke to King Zedekiah…: Put your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and live! (for this is Israel’s punishment for injustice and idolatry)
– Jeremiah 27:12

…The prophet Hananiah son of Azzur…said: Thus said the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel: I hereby break the yoke of the king of Babylon. (for God will protect and support Israel unconditionally)
– Jeremiah 28:1-2

I recently attended a demonstration of the “Light Tag” coalition, in front of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s residence. We were about 500, with many familiar faces, especially from the Reform and Conservative movements (though the outstanding speaker was an Orthodox rabbi, Benjamin Lau). “Light Tag” (tag me’ir) is a pun on the name of the phenomenon it opposes: “Price Tag” (tag mechir ) – the name given to the recent spate of Jewish hate crimes. It seems that some of the more extreme elements of the settler youth – and supporters and copy-cats from elsewhere – have taken it upon themselves to exact a “price” for the government’s conciliatory (?) moves toward the Palestinians, by torching mosques, vandalizing churches, spitting on priests on the street, violent attacks against random Arabs, puncturing Arabs’ tires, etc., throughout Israel. There have been proposals (by the minister of police) to label these activists as “terrorists,” which would give the police additional tools to deal with them. But such a decision keeps getting put off. It is interesting, as many speakers pointed out at the demonstration, that the security services, who can find and detain every 11-year old Arab kid who ever throws a stone, seem helpless against this current “plague.” It is hard to avoid the feeling that there are leaders in the political and religious spheres – and lots of people on the street – who don’t see these actions as such a big deal, or who even sympathize with them. When popular author Amos Oz recently called the perpetrators “Jewish neo-nazis,” he aroused a public outcry on the left as well as the right.

There are amusing anecdotes from the early years of the state, when Jews expressed pride and gratification at the normalization of the Jewish people: Finally, we had a real state, meaning we had Jewish police and Jewish prisons – and Jewish criminals and Jewish prostitutes – just like everyone else. Alas, the cuteness has worn off, as we see our former president in jail for rape, our former prime minister sentenced to jail for bribery, and a daily dose of reports on hate crimes against non-Jewish religious leaders and institutions (and against liberal Jewish institutions too). Normalization sounded like a good idea, but did we really mean it “all the way?”

Many of us in the liberal wing of Judaism are wont to declare that a Jewish state needs to be a state that exemplifies Jewish values. In this respect we are like the nationalist Orthodox school, who argue that normalization is not our ideal: our destiny is not to be just like everyone else, but to be exceptional, to be a state that implements the values of the Torah in real life. The problem is, of course, that we have not achieved consensus on just what “Jewish values” are, and on who gets to decide. In recent years a number of publications by nationalist Orthodox rabbis have gotten a lot of attention – bringing proof from traditional sources to support discrimination and violence against non-Jews. When we liberals object, they tell us that “the halachah is not pretty,” and that we are distorting Judaism to fit our western liberal values; then we bring our proof-texts to show that theirview is a distortion of Judaism. If we didn’t have a Jewish state with an army and a police force, this could be a philosophical discussion, as it was for centuries. We could happily be pluralists and agree to disagree. However, in our time, we cannot escape the challenge of having to implement our values, using real power in a real state. So we cannot really afford to be pluralists about our beliefs in this sphere.

It seems we’re in a culture war, similar to the one in Jeremiah’s day. That time the good guys lost, and we are still mourning the outcome.

Re-printed from the URJ Ten Minutes of Torah, June 4, 2014

Rabbi Marc J. Rosenstein is the retired director of the Galilee Foundation for Value Education and the current director of the Israel Rabbinical Program at Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem.

It Is By Now No Secret Rejoinder

This conversation is critically important.  We invite all who are interested to join in either in the comments or in our Facebook group

Clearly, Dan Ross and I agree on the affirmatives: We love Israel, and we want to see it succeed as a “country of lofty ideals.” Even more than that, we probably share a sense of what those ideals look like, and I applaud him for his forward gaze. It appears, additionally, that we agree that our Western interlocutors, as defined by Ross, do not go out of their way to question Israel’s right to exist. But here’s where I think we disagree: the West’s acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state—not Netanyahu’s call for a diplomatic formulation as such but, more generally, the concept itself.

To be sure, the institutions of Israel’s statehood are firmly in place, and the West generally accepts that fact. And I am not an alarmist about the threats to Israel’s existence.

But I’m not at all sure that Europeans, just as an example, feel that the Jewish character of the state has any legitimacy, nor that that character is worthy of promotion or defense. Closer to home, the Presbyterian Church recently published the controversial “Zionism Unsettled,” a study-guide and DVD that questions both the current policies of Israel and its Jewish character.

More to the point, “Zionism Unsettled” conflates those policies and character as morally and inevitably twinned, and therein lies the difficulty. We progressive Zionists hold that Israel embodies a simultaneously (if imperfectly) Jewish and democratic character, and that destructive or short-sighted policies do not fundamentally belie or de-legitimate it. As such, we struggle against the policies, while we defend the state and its particular character.

I believe that, between these two positions, most people outside of the United States follow some variation on “Zionism Unsettled.” That is, they perceive the progressive Zionist position to be either paradoxical or quixotic and, in any case, impossible to uphold. They oppose the same policies that we progressive Zionists oppose. But insofar as they see those policies as a natural outgrowth of Zionism, they point to them as proof of the illegitimacy of Zionism itself.

And I believe that a subset of American Jewry is increasingly inclined to agree—passively, superficially or only incipiently—but to agree nonetheless.

So, when Ross specifically queries “to whom Dr. Holo believes we should be addressing ‘our Zionist assertions with sufficient confidence, information and conviction,’” I answer, as I had attempted to do in my initial posting: American Jewry. Secondarily, as per this posting, I might also address our Western interlocutors.

And here is my message: I am in unqualified agreement with Ross and his call to look to the future. And I want something additional, as well. I want progressive Zionists to re-articulate the Jewish claim to sovereignty, because it’s a compelling argument, and because American Jews may be losing sight of it. And yes, it is fundamentally an historical argument, but without it, Israel as such has no future to aim for.

Dr. Holo is the Dean of the Los Angeles Campus and Associate Professor of Jewish History at HUC-JIR/LA. He served as Director of the Louchheim School of Judaic Studies from 2006-2010. Dr. Holo’s publications focus on Medieval Jews of the Mediterranean, particularly in the Christian realm. His book, Byzantine Jewry in the Mediterranean Economy, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2009.

Q&A with Rabbi Ira Youdovin

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There is much being said about the up-coming World Zionist Congress, and why Reform Jews from across the globe should be interested.  To address these, we’ve invited a true expert to guide us through the material.

Rabbi Ira Youdovin forty years ago headed the team that created ARZA—Association of Reform Zionists of America, served as its first executive director and, together with its president, Rabbi Roland B. Gittelsohn, led Reform Zionism’s first delegation to the World Zionist Congress.

When we contacted Rabbi Youdovin he mused that the questions being asked were largely the same he was called upon to answer in the mid-1970’s.

As you read Rabbi Youdovin’s comments, please remember to post here additional questions as well as your own take on the issues that he is raising.

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The World Zionist Congress: Why should Reform Jews be interested? 

The next World Zionist Congress will be held in October, 2015.  More than 500 delegates from Israel and the Diaspora will gather in Jerusalem to discuss key issues confronting Israel, Zionism and world Jewry, and to determine allocations made by the World Zionist Organization, the WZC’s parent body.  These decisions are determined by vote of the delegates, who reflect a wide diversity of ideological and religious perspectives.

If you care about the Reform Movement in Israel, if you support egalitarian prayer, if you believe in freedom of religion, the right of Reform rabbis to conduct marriage, divorce, burial and conversion, if you believe that women should have equal status, here is your chance to make a difference. Your vote in determining who represents your region is your voice in determining what happens at the Congress.

 

What are the origins of the World Zionist Congress? 

Theodor Herzl convened the first World Zionist Congress (WZC) in Basel, Switzerland (1897).  An assimilated Viennese Jew covering the Dreyfus trial for a local newspaper, Herzl saw the anti-Semitism manifest in the trumped-up charges against a Jewish captain in the French army as a harbinger of a fate that awaited Jews everywhere in Europe.  His response was to embrace the need to create a national homeland where Jews would be safe and free. The WZC was the first institutional step toward achieving this goal.  Foremost among the resolutions adopted by the Congress was one that defined the movement: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Palestine secured under public law.”

Approximately two hundred delegates  from seventeen countries attended.  Sixty-nine were representatives from various Zionist societies.  The remainder were individual invitees. In attendance were ten non­-Jews who were expected to abstain from voting. Seventeen women attended.  While women participated in the discussions, they did not then have voting rights.  Those were granted the following year, at the Second Zionist Congress

Herzl called the WZC “the Parliament of the Jewish People.”

A Great Family Reunion Made Possible by Zionism

Long before “diversity” became a buzzword, I was captivated by the fact that there are many different kinds of Jews. As the midrash says of humanity, so it can be said of Jews: though we were all stamped from the same mold, no two of us are alike—and that is a blessing!

My first exotic Jewish encounter was as a teenager when a group from my Reform congregation in Chappaqua, New York, spent a weekend with the Lubavitcher chasidim in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Though it was obvious from the outset that our hosts were hoping to recruit us to join their sect, my friends and I were neither disturbed nor moved by their efforts. We were there to enjoy an adventure in Jewish cultural anthropology, and it never dawned on us that we might leave our Jewish world to join theirs. We were perfectly happy being Reform Jewish teens—active in our synagogue, loving NFTY, and enjoying the pleasures of the secular world.

Nevertheless, I was profoundly moved by that visit to Crown Heights. I wanted to learn as much as I could about their customs and beliefs, from the way they dressed to their relationship with their Rebbe (who was still alive at that time). And my interest was not dispassionate. It was not like visiting a museum to learn about other civilizations. Despite our differences, I felt an immediate kinship with the people we met, a deep visceral feeling that these were my brothers and sisters, and I wanted to embrace them as my own, albeit on my own terms.

What I did not realize at the time was how that experience had opened a pathway in my Jewish consciousness. I had been infected with a bug called ahavat Yisrael, love for our fellow Jews. That value happens to be a core teaching of the Lubavitchers, but I don’t recall them making mention of it during our visit. What moved me was simply the encounter with another branch of my extended Jewish family.

A few years later, during college, I made my first aliyah to Israel. I spent a year studying at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and it was there that my Jewish horizons truly were expanded. Who knew there were so many different kinds of Jews! I met Jews from every part of the globe: dark-skinned Jews from Yemen, Iraq, and Morocco; Spanish-speaking Jews from South America; Jews with British, Australian, and Russian accents; Orthodox Jews, socialist Jews, Chasidic Jews of all kinds; Jews of every political persuasion, from Peace Now to Gush Emunim settlers, and everything in between. They differed in their appearance, language, culture, attitudes, and beliefs and practices. I had come from a world where Jews were united by religion. In Israel, it wasn’t clear that there was any unity at all. But there was!

We Jews, in all our glorious diversity, are a people, a nation, a family—and we share a home. I felt this immediately upon my arrival in Israel, and this feeling has never left me. Like the four children of the haggadah, no matter what questions we ask, we have a place at the table. Even those who reject our faith are welcome, alongside those who embrace our faith but reject our State.

This is the great gift that Zionism has given to Jews of every persuasion. It has brought us together as one colorful, contentious family—Am Yisrael, the Jewish People. By making it possible for Jews to return to our homeland, we have experienced a great family reunion at which we get to eat and drink, argue and love—together!

As we celebrate Israel’s 66th birthday this Yom Ha’atzma’ut, I pray that every Jew will embrace the spirit of Jewish pluralism that recognizes and celebrates the fact that we are one people united in all our resplendent diversity—a free people with a place we all can call home.

Chag Ha’atzma’ut sameach!

 

Rabbi Arnold S. Gluck is the Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth El in Hillsborough, NJ.  

Big Thoughts over Brunch in Baka

Pre-Shabbat in Jerusalem is digestion time. On Friday mornings in my neighborhood of Baka, the main avenue teems with voracious brunch-devourers eager to squish a weekend’s worth of consumption into one extended meal. As Shabbat preparations commence and stores rush to fulfill orders for 30 hours of commercial hiatus (shops close here!), unemployed students like me seize the moment to click out of Morfix1 and into Israel. Digestion for me is 25 percent brunch and 75 percent psychology. While I scoop labne (Israeli yogurt) onto scrambled eggs and conquer the ziggurat of cucumbers and tomatoes shoveled generously onto my plate, I try to make sense of the previous week’s Jewish, academic, and social intensity.

Having lived in New York City since the age of 17, with time spent in Berlin, Madrid, Paris and Washington, DC for academic and professional pursuits, I became convinced that Manhattan was the definition of urban vibrancy. But after 10 months in Jerusalem, I must admit that the Big Apple has a contender. The Jerusalem week is like a pitching machine that spits out obligations and opportunities at a fervent pace – and the unrelenting force of serious questions pushes this wired New Yorker into new realms of exhaustion.

In Manhattan, career and partnership are my major concerns. After I decided to pursue the rabbinate, and fell in love with my now-fiancé, I felt as if my scores were in – I had passed – and could move from being interrogated into the role of interrogator. I was comfortable, but somewhat despondent. Had I peaked by age 27? Was I to exchange my cloak of youthful mystery and dynamism for a pair of safe and static orthotics? Thankfully, in Israel, this option is off the table.

Even the minor moments in Jerusalem demand big thinking. My cab driver doesn’t care where I’m going – (we decide that before I open the door) – but he wants to know how it is possible to live as a “real Jew” outside of Israel. My lunch conversations at school revolve around questions of whether maintaining a Jewish demographic majority can harmonize with democratic values. And on my walks to school, I’m enmeshed in an internal debate over the values and drawbacks of secular vs. day school education for my fiancé’s and my future children. Cruise control is a luxury that Jerusalem cannot afford, and therefore one is accountable for every moment. My cab driver seems to have the same privileges as my grandmother, asking questions that that no one else would think of asking me.

I did not acclimate to this audacious atmosphere with ease. I was a case study in defensiveness. At first, I was a tourist in denial, then a frustrated resident, followed by a bruised family member, and now, after almost a year, I am an empowered-but-struggling advocate. To thrive in Israel, you have to read and ruminate, listen and linger. During my first few months here, I spent Fridays buried in The New York Times and catching up on missed seasons of Mad Men. I used my only time off to do a system update on my New York self, consistently avoiding the incipient Jewish-Jerusalem identity that was blooming despite me.

When winter break arrived and I finally made time for Amos Oz’s A Tale of Love and Darkness, an insatiable appetite for Israeli literature was born, and with it, a willingness to check my New York loyalties at the door in order to give this miracle of a Jewish State a chance. Oz’s autobiographical novel opened a window to the birth of the Jewish state through the eyes of a brilliant and sensitive young Jerusalemite whose life converged with many of Israel’s founding intellectual elites.

In David Grossman’s To the End of the Land, I met Ora, a woman with a desperate love and concern for her soldier son who attempts to evade wartime fate by hiking the National Israel Trail. The sensory discovery of her connection to Eretz Yisrael has guided my own trips to the Galilee where much of her journey takes place.

Noted historian Anita Shapira illuminates the multi-faceted constellation of modern Israeli identity, among which journalist Ari Shavit and fiction writer Etgar Keret shine brightly through their individual encounters with modern Israel, real and imagined. This outpouring of hearts in turmoil is complex and critical, daring and deep, and the more I read, the more I identify with these authors’ participation in the task of Am Yisrael – to build a Jewish and democratic state that reckons honestly with the promise and pitfalls of power.

As I write this I am studying Parashat M’tzorah, which presents a treatise on categories of purity and impurity. With elaborate and time-consuming instructions for cleansing the tainted, we learn that transition between these categories is not lurching, but laborious. So, too, has been my transition from inexperienced tourist to implicated ally. I did not slaughter any turtledoves (Lev 14:22), but the journey between these two identities has demanded the sacrifice of that tender naivety that allowed me to look away from Israel toward iTunes and other distractions. I’m hooked now. I fell in love.

Once again, I’ve conquered my vegetable ziggurat, my eggs have gotten cold and the labne has made its way from my plate to my sleeves. The café is closing for Shabbat and another 30 hours of urban rest is descending upon us. I thank God for the blessing of a city that demands so much and reciprocates by shutting down and backing off. I need Saturdays to snuggle up with my Israeli authors and continue this incredible journey. For the more I read, the better I love, and the deeper this imperfect Jewish miracle plants itself into the landscape of my soul.

  1. Online Hebrew-English Dictionary
  2. Amos Oz. In the Land of Israel, 33.

Juliana Schnur is a first-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem and a Wexner Graduate Fellow. 

Re-printed from the UREJ Ten Minutes of Torah, April 16, 2014

Information about the World Zionist Congress Elections and ARZENU

Make your voice heard, make a difference
If you care about the Reform Movement in Israel, if you support egalitarian prayer, if you believe in freedom of religion, the right of Reform rabbis to conduct marriage, divorce, burial and conversion, if you believe that women should have equal status, here is your chance to make a difference. Join the ARZENU Reform Zionist group in your country and vote in the World Zionist Congress elections. This is the best way for you to directly influence and impact the future of the Reform Movement in Israel and of the Jewish people around the globe.

What is the World Zionist Organization?
Established in 1897, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) is often called the “Parliament of the Jewish people.” It was convened by Theodor Herzl in Basel and since its inception its goal was to unite the Jewish people and bring about the establishment of the Jewish state. The World Zionist Organization is a global organization supported by Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (the Jewish National Fund), the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Hayesod (United Jewish Appeal) and the Government of Israel.

There are three types of membership in the World Zionist Organization:

  1. International Zionist political parties which compete in elections for their representation, such as the Orthodox, Conservative, Reform (ARZENU), Reconstructionists, World Likud, Meretz, Shas, etc.
  2. International Jewish organizations which have fixed representation and do not compete in elections (the World Union for Progressive Judaism, World Mizrachi, Hadassah, WIZO, B’nai Brith, Maccabi, and others)
  3. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, Israeli political parties have been represented in the WZO based on their relative strength in the Israeli Knesset elections (Likud, Labor, Shas, Meretz, Israel Beiteinu, etc.).

Every five years the WZO convenes a Congress whose representation is determined by democratic elections amongst the international Zionist political parties. Between congresses the Zionist General Council (the Vaad Hapoel) convenes annually for discussions on pressing matters on the agenda of the Jewish people. Participation in one election is effective for five full years!

Representation in the World Zionist Congress elections
The next World Zionist Organization elections will be held worldwide in 2015. Israeli citizens are represented in the elections through political parties in Israel; world Jews are represented through international Zionist political parties to which they belong.

Out of 30 countries represented in the WZO, the Reform Movement has constituent ARZENU organizations in 14 countries. ARZENU is the umbrella organization for all Reform Zionist organizations worldwide.

Member organizations of ARZENU are: ARZA U.S., ARZA Canada, ARZA Australia, ARZA Netherlands, ARZENU South Africa, ARZENU Germany, ARZENU Spain, ARZENU Hungary, ARZENU Switzerland, ARZENU France, Pro Zion in Britain and Austria, Jason ARZENU Argentina, and Chazit Mitkademet in Brazil.

Why are the elections important?
As with the Israel Knesset elections, whoever wins the most votes receives the most important positions and control of budgets, and so it is with the World Zionist Congress elections.

How is this manifested?
Today the Reform Movement in Israel receives allocations of $4.5 to $5 million per annum from the Jewish Agency, Keren Kaymeth LeIsrael (JNF) and Keren Hayesod.

And how does this work? For example the WZO is a 50% owner of the Jewish Agency and therefore appoints 50% of the representatives to the Board of the Jewish Agency. Thus it can strongly impact who will be the chairman of the Agency or the agenda and priorities of the Agency. The same is applicable to the other organizations. In other words, the WZO plays an important role in making decisions on who is appointed to key positions in these organizations. Simply put: whoever has the largest number of representatives in Congress will set goals and have access to the centers of power and money.

For example: On behalf of the Reform Movement in Israel ARZENU uses its power to impact the Jewish Agency budget allocation for religious streams: ARZENU tries to prevent or limit the size of budget cuts to the streams and has largely been successful.

Who are our partners?
Following the last elections to the World Zionist Congress, ARZENU established a Joint Faction with the World Labor Zionist Movement and Meretz Olami (the political arms abroad of these Israeli Knesset parties). This Joint Faction allows us to influence the Knesset and Israeli society. For example, when we fought against the Rotem conversion law we cooperated with the above parties to influence the legislative process.

Another recent example: At the Zionist General Council meetings held in early November 2013, the Joint Faction, spearheaded by ARZENU, was able to pass three resolutions calling on the Israeli government to implement the establishment of egalitarian prayer at the Wall, to pass a marriage and civil divorce law and to prosecute Israelis who incite racism.

The bottom line – what can I do?
Every member country in the WZO has an allocation of delegates based on the Jewish population of that country. For example, the U.S. has 145 delegates at the World Zionist Congress (out of 500 delegates in total). Every 5 years an election is held within each country to determine the composition of the delegates. If you participate in this process, and vote for your ARZENU constituent organization, you make an immediate difference to the future of the Reform Movement.

At a date to be announced – probably towards the beginning of 2015 – all international Zionist political parties will go to the polls. According to the results obtained in these elections each Zionist political party will receive its allocation of delegates to the Congress.

In the last elections, ARZA US gained 56 representatives (out of 145). The entire ARZENU political party received 83 delegates worldwide out of 500. By joining forces with its faction partners, ARZENU became the leader of the largest faction in the WZO with a combined total of 159 representatives. The goal this time is to increase our representation and in order to achieve this we need everyone who participated in the past to do so again and to encourage even more people to register and vote this time.

Who can vote?
Anyone who is Jewish, is over the age of 18 and who signs the “Jerusalem Program.” In addition representatives to the Congress must make a modest annual contribution to UJA/Keren Hayesod and to the JNF-KKL.

The “Jerusalem Program” is the shared vision of all organizations and institutions of WZO and includes amongst its principles:

  • Unity of the Jewish people and the connection to Israel
  • A democratic and egalitarian state according to the vision of the prophets
  • Aliyah and settlement in Israel
  • The centrality of Israel to the Jewish world
  • Dissemination of Jewish culture and education
  • Hebrew language
  • Fighting anti-Semitism

If Israel and the above issues are important to you, please register as a member of ARZENU in your country and vote in the elections. For further details on how to do this please contact Dalya Levy, Executive Director, ARZENU, +972-54-644-2427, dalya@arzenu.org.il