Sarrae Crane, Executive Director, MERCAZ USA
The last year-and-a-half has been a blur with one day running into the next as I work from home and seem to be living on Zoom meetings. Last week, I went into the office and was instantly reminded by the materials and boxes I found that the pandemic began as the election of delegates for the World Zionist Congress ended. It seems like such a long time ago and so much has happened since then.
One of the lessons we learned from the election campaign, that proved extremely useful during the pandemic, is that the internet enables us to stay in touch with our members. We have increased our social media presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and upgraded our website (still a work in progress). You will notice that we did not send individual bills, but rather asked you to pay your dues or make donations online. Moreover, our newsletter is now an e-letter and when we have something time-sensitive to say, we send an e-blast! This has worked well for us and given us the opportunity to be in touch with you on a more regular basis.
In addition, the internet offers us program opportunities. We are working with MERCAZ Canada and MERCAZ UK on our lineup for 5782 / 2021-2022 which will be finalized by the end of the summer.
The goal of our programming is to strengthen our ties with the people of Israel. After four elections, there is a newly created government which is a coalition of 8 parties with significantly different views who have come together for the good of the country. We wish this government well and hope that it will be a sign that pluralism is possible – people with different convictions can live and work together respectfully. The promotion of pluralism at all levels is one of the missions of MERCAZ.
In an effort to deepen our awareness of life in Israel, we launched MERCAZ Reads Israel, an online book club featuring contemporary Israeli novels that provide insight into what Israelis are thinking about today. The stories authors write reflect the world in which they live and the issues of concern to them. As part of our mission to promote pluralism, we are working to find books written from diverse perspectives. MERCAZ does not endorse the position or politics expressed in the books, but rather wants the readers to know that not all Israelis see life through the same lens.
On July 13, we held an online discussion on All the Rivers by Dorit Rubinyan, a book that received a lot of attention in Israel. You can watch the session at mercazusa.org/alltherivers. (See the full article about our discussion for All The Rivers further in our newsletter!)
We are very excited about our next selection, Hope Valley, by Rabbi Haviva Ner David (rabbihaviva.com/hope-valley), who lives on Kibbutz Hanaton. This book is a must read! A beautifully woven, compelling story of 2 strong women, who develop an unlikely friendship. Their narratives and those of the people around them, learn that they share many of life’s challenges and provide insight and understanding into the Israeli- Arab conflict. The book does not seek to justify the positions of any group, but rather to offer the opportunity for the reader to grasp the depth of the conflict. We will provide questions and thoughts to consider and discuss on our Facebook page as you read the book. A discussion session with the author is set for Thursday, October 21, 2021.
Our members have shared their desire to learn more about both the meaning of Zionism today and the work of the Masorti Movement in Israel. MERCAZ USA is eager to help you explore these important concerns. Accordingly, we are planning a four-session series on Zionism Today from 4 different perspectives, as well as holiday programs with a special emphasis on the Zionist aspect of the chag. If there are topics you would like us to address, please be in touch. We will be happy to work with you.
We wish you a summer filled with opportunities to reconnect in person with family and friends.