Spring 2016

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Impressive Achievements at 37th Zionist Congress

[Ed: Dr. David Breakstone, Int’l Vice President of MERCAZ Olami, prepared the following report before the untimely death of Dr. Stephen Wolnek, President of MERCAZ Olami, whose passing we mourn]

The worldwide Conservative/Masorti movement, represented by its Zionist arm, MERCAZ Olami, and its umbrella organization, Masorti Olami, succeeded in preserving its key positions and safeguarding its vital interests in Israel’s National Institutions at the conclusion of the 37th Zionist Congress. MERCAZ and Masorti will maintain the same level of their representation on key World Zionist Organization and Jewish Agency governing bodies and committees, as well as holding the chairmanship of a key committee of Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael (Jewish National Fund) overseeing KKL land policy.

None of this should be taken for granted. The significant drop in the number of MERCAZ delegates from 59 in 2010 to 42 in 2015 coupled with the reality that our new Israeli political partner, Yesh Atid, had only 21 delegates at the Congress compared to our partner’s 60 five years ago, means that it was reasonable to expect that we would leave the Congress diminished in strength.

Against this background, we can attribute our impressive and disproportional success to the hard work of our leadership and activists along with the reputation we have managed to generate for MERCAZ and Masorti. Over the past several years, we have been able to position ourselves such that that even those vying for the same portfolios we have been able to secure recognize the positive contribution we have collectively made through our various appointments within the WZO, Jewish Agency, KKL-JNF and Keren Hayesod, and understand that we represent a segment of the Jewish people around the world that is far larger and more significant than the number of our delegates would suggest. The partnership we have developed with Israel’s political party, Yesh Atid, was also a significant factor throughout the negotiations, and the unwavering support of party chairman MK Yair Lapid and director general Gil Segal were invaluable to our furthering our mutual interests.

With the Congress behind us, we now look forward to getting down to work in order to further the agenda that is, of course, the reason we are involved in all of this in the first place: fashioning Israel as an exemplary, pluralistic society every Jew can feel at home in; strengthening the bonds between the Jewish state and the Jewish people worldwide; advocating on Israel’s behalf, especially in these particularly trying times; advancing Zionism as the progressive movement of national liberation that it set out to be; and securing the resources and creating the opportunities for Conservative/Masorti communities around the world to continue growing so that individually and collectively we can contribute to ensuring a future for the Jewish people and the State of Israel we can all rejoice in.
It is, of course, the cooperation of our movement’s constituent bodies in Israel and abroad, coupled with the tireless efforts of our activists everywhere that make this all possible. Those in Jerusalem are well aware and fully appreciative of this and salute this “army” of dedicated Conservative/Masorti Jews who so enthusiastically embrace the Zionist idea and give of themselves to advance the Zionist cause. May we continue to go from strength to strength!


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