Programs – What We Do
MERCAZ is expanding its agenda from simply concentrating on "advocacy IN Israel" on behalf of religious pluralism to include also "advocacy FOR Israel", advocacy in defense of Israel's right to exist.
Training Conferences 2016:
- September 18 Israel Advocacy Conference in Greater New York area – Our next conference will be taking place on Sunday, September 18th, in the Westchester/Rockland Counties area, in conjunction with Women’s League’s MetroNorth Region and Men’s Clubs Hudson Valley Region. For more information, contact Mindy Steinholz (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bart Bookman (email@example.com)
- Pacific Southwest Region – There are ongoing discussions with Women’s League’s Pacific Southwest about holding an Israel Advocacy conference in the Southern California area sometime over the next six months. For more information, contact the MERCAZ USA office 212-533-2061 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Israel Advocacy Activities
Advocacy for Israel happens in a variety of ways. It is as simple as casual conversations with friends or neighbors, recommending an essay or book, or writing letters to newspapers. And, it involves bigger efforts, such as drawing audiences for film presentations and organizing speaking events. Every little bit helps!
MERCAZ, together with the other arms of the Conservative Movement, is now working to assist the start-up of local advocacy committees, building and maintaining critical connections between new and existing grass-roots Israel Advocacy groups.
The initiatives listed below were created and are being executed by fellow activists "in the field" – advocates like you! It is likely and hoped that you will improve upon some of these initiatives. We look forward to learning from your experiences, as we all benefit from our collective experiences, in building this list. Our goals are to encourage involvement and improve our effectiveness. One way we accomplish this is by sharing our resources and knowledge.
The list of initiatives below has proven to be effective and easy to implement. Most importantly, we are willing and able to support your efforts with mentors and supplemental materials, such as brochures, scripts, press releases, posters, book recommendations, PowerPoint presentations, etc. (Materials to come.)
The next step is for you to say, YES and get in touch with us. Drop us a line to get more information and share what is your situation so we can brainstorm possible next steps.
Michael Perloff, Chair, MERCAZ Israel Advocacy Organizing Committee – email@example.com
- Media Watch Team – Monitor and respond, in writing, to media bias directly, fully, and with confidence. This might include a team of "ghost writers" who author letters to the editor(s), while others submit the letters under their name(s).
- Synagogue Declaration – Using our declaration as a sample, encourage your local synagogue Board to declare its support for Israel via programming, education and otherwise throughout the year – in print, at congregational gatherings, and from the bema. Encourage your synagogue to include short "good news" announcements about Israel from the Bema, and include a prayer for Israel (and peace) at every service.
- Israel Corner – Obtain space in local synagogue bulletins to regularly publish articles on Israel. Political and apolitical, such as expounding on the contributions Israel makes to society as a whole (medical breakthroughs, power initiatives, etc.). See next bullet item.
- Promote Positive Israel – Distribute information about the phenomenal accomplishments of Israelis rather than merely reacting to the negative propaganda.
- Community-Based Speakers Bureau – Local volunteers study the history and current events of Israel and are dedicated to sharing the facts, and clearing up the myths, concerning the situation in the Middle East.
- Notable Guest Speakers – Sponsor public speaking engagements for the general and Jewish audience. Though sometimes expensive, if done properly they can attract major media attention, making the cost worthwhile. You may be able to obtain local underwriters with a well-known speaker, offsetting the cost of the event.
- Film Nights – Numerous effective and fairly inexpensive documentaries are available and can draw a sizeable audience, especially when paired with a good local speaker. If you show the film at a "neutral" location, you may attract more than a Jewish audience.
- Public Access TV – Submit and promote showings of effective films.
- Israel Rally – Organize community-based rallies featuring pro-Israel speakers from a variety of walks of life, pro-actively or in reaction to a current event.
- Response to Opposition – Counter pro-Palestinian exhibits, demonstrations, etc. by seeking opportunities to provide the inevitable missing context or correct false information. Always promote peaceful and respectful responses.
- Four Rabbis – Invite several Rabbis to join a host Rabbi of a synagogue for prepared speeches and Q & A from the audience.
- Israel Trips – Encourage and support Jews and others to visit Israel on tours, trips, Birthright trips for youth, fact-finding missions, and leadership/diplomatic conferences, etc.
- Combat Israel Boycott & Divestment Initiatives – Lobby organizations to not pass such initiatives and/or to reverse earlier decisions. Join/lead other community groups utilizing the power of National Zionist organizations and their members to support you.
- Book Donations – Donate helpful books to local libraries.
- Book Clubs – Create an "Israel Advocacy Book Club".
- Yom Ha'atzmaut Festival – Most of the Jewish communities in the Western world have incorporated this modern holiday into their calendars. For Diaspora Jews, celebrating Yom Ha'atzmaut has been a way to express solidarity with the state of Israel and to strengthen their alliance with it.
In many communities, it is one of few occasions in which Jewish organizations and synagogues of different ideologies and denominations cooperate in forming a common celebration. In many North American congregations, the joint public celebration often is augmented by a religious service. In some cases, this would occur on the Shabbat closest to Yom Ha'atzmaut and would consist of additional readings added to the service and, usually, the singing of Hatikvah (the Israeli national anthem).