Ensuring the Pluralistic and Unified Nature of Our National Zionist Institutions

 

An Update From MERCAZ USA on the proceedings of the 38th World Zionist Congress

After a long and hard-fought struggle and many months leading up to this week, we just completed three days of the virtual 38th World Zionist Congress. We worked especially hard to preserve the voice of all Zionist viewpoints. MERCAZ, the Masorti/Conservative Movement, along with a coalition of Zionist parties in Israel and the Reform Movement, and the support of the Zionist organizations (HadassahB’nai Brith InternationalMaccabi World UnionWIZO and NAAMAT/USA), succeeded in blocking a divisive agreement and reached an agreement incorporating significant changes, which ensures checks and balances and inclusion of all the Jewish People in the leadership of our Zionist Institutions.

While the new agreement gives power to one side of the political spectrum, we remain confident that the changes preserve the national and pluralistic character of our Zionist Institutions. We will continue to fight for the character of Zionism and its values, and work to inculcate the principles of transparency, quality, and accountability.

For the first time in its history the Zionist Movement will appoint a President from the Center-Left Liberal Zionist block. The President will be nominated by the Yesh Atid party and designated for a female candidate, who will represent the Zionist Movement in Israel and abroad as an ambassador for all Zionist streams and viewpoints. Also for the first time, the Deputy WZO Chair and Deputy Head of the Jewish Agency (JAFI) will be representatives from the Reform and Conservative Movements. Yizhar Hess, previously head of Masorti Israel will hold the WZO position. Kachol Lavan will appoint the Keren HaYesod Chair. Movement parity is ensured in the KKL and WZO Executive Boards. New departments for Social Engagement (Tikkun Olam) – headed by Meretz, working with Israelis in the Diaspora – headed by the Reform Movement, and a unit for Humanistic Judaism – under the Labour Party will be established.

Together we prevented unilateral control by the Haredim of the KKL Education Committee. It will instead have two co-chairs, Kachol Lavan and Eretz HaKodesh, with each appointing a rotating Chair for the committee, and control of the KKL Finance Committee will move from Likud to Yesh Atid. Also prevented was the formation of a sectarian department for Orthodox Spiritual Services. All WZO departments will serve all sectors of Israeli society and the Jewish People. Allocations of departments and spheres of activity will be divided balanced, between the right and left.

We have plenty to be proud of. Great thanks to our negotiators, our delegates and our staff, as well as MERCAZ members who reached out to Zionist organizations throughout the negotiations. There is still much to do over the next four years to ensure that this situation does not happen again.

L’Shalom,

Marilyn L. Wind, President, MERCAZ USA

Sarrae Crane, Executive Director, MERCAZ USA

The 38th World Zionist Congress: Day 2 (10/21/20) Replay

The second day of the 38th World Zionist Congress was broadcast live from 9:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, October 21. You can watch the recordings of the second day of sessions below.

Plenary Sessions 6a, 6b, and 7 (broadcast live from 10:55 a.m. – 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, October 21):

 

Opening remarks from Day 2 at the World Zionist Congress (broadcast live from 9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, October 21).

Power Grab at the World Zionist Organization (WZO): Vote Tuesday, 10/20, on Measure at WZC Could Undermine Conservative and Reform Judaism in Israel

This urgent message is from the Executive Director, Gideon Aronoff, of our partner organization, The Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel.

Dear Friends,

Unless we act, and act quickly, Conservative and Reform Jews will be stripped of virtually all power at the WZO in what is described by some as a “hostile takeover by the ultra-Orthodox and right wing parties” of the WZO.

Leadership of key Zionist institutions and massive program budgets will be in the near-exclusive control of the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox in Israel. The potential consequences for an inclusive, pluralistic Judaism in Israel are dire.

The way to block this proposed agreement is by convincing the international organizations – HadassahB’nai Brith InternationalMaccabi World UnionWIZO and NAAMAT USA – to vote against it.

Contact any leaders you know in these important groups.

Normally, these organizations do not vote. But these are not normal times.

These organizations cannot sit on the fence this time!

As one leader notes, “Jews from around the world have always known that the WZO and its affiliate organizations welcomed a diversity of voices … If this agreement is passed, the message would be that Israel is only the homeland for Jews who think a certain way, and that is nothing less than a catastrophe.”

Details can be found in this Ha’aretz articleNow is the time to act.

Learn more about the 38th World Zionist Congress and how you can watch the proceedings live (October 20-22).

Join Mercaz Olami at the Kotel to bring in Tisha B’Av

UPDATE | Wednesday, July 29, 5:00 p.m. EDT: If you missed the live presentation > This beautiful chanting of Megillat Eicha at the Egalitarian Kotel can be viewed on Masorti Olami’s Facebook page. You do not need a Facebook account, or be logged on to Facebook, in order to view the recording.


Feeling confused about how to have a meaningful Tisha B’Av this year?

Please join MERCAZ Olami, Masorti Olami and The Masorti Movement In Israel for a live-streaming event of the reading of Megillat Eicha, directly from the Egalitarian Kotel.

The broadcast will take place on Wednesday, July 29 at 8:00 p.m. Israel time / 1:00 p.m. EDT as we join together virtually for the reading of Megillat Eicha.

We will be live-streaming via the Mercaz Olami Facebook page and Zoom (details to follow on the Mercaz Olami Facebook page).

Conference of Presidents Members Condemn Mort Klein Black Lives Matter Tweets

Mercaz USA, as a member organization of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, is a signatory on this letter to Mort Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America, regarding several of his recent Tweets.

June 12, 2020

Mort Klein
President
Zionist Organization of America

Dear Mr. Klein,

We, the undersigned members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, condemn the tweets regarding Black Lives Matter that you sent out last weekend.

The specific tweets to which we are referring are: “BlackLivesMatter is an antisemitic, Israel hating Soros funded racist extremist Israelophobic hate group.” And “BLM is a Jew hating, White hating, Israel hating, conservative Black hating, violence promoting, dangerous Soros funded extremist group of haters.”

We hope that you agree that the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Aubrey have ignited a much needed and long-overdue push to address institutionalized racism, police violence and white supremacy that plague the United States.

At this delicate and critical juncture in American history, Jews of all colors must stand up for black lives and against senseless hatred and divisive bigotry. It is time to find our common humanity, not to search for ways to keep us apart. There is no room for hate in organized Jewish life.

Respectfully,

Kenneth Bob, President, Ameinu
Hadar Susskind, President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now
Rabbi Bennett Miller, National Chair, ARZA
Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Robert Aronson, Chair, HIAS
Stuart Applebaum, President, Jewish Labor Committee
Meredith Jacobs, CEO, Jewish Women International
Janet Gurvitch, President, Na’amat USA
Marilyn Wind, President, MERCAZ USA
Sheila Katz, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women
Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, Chief Executive, Rabbinical Assembly
Ann Toback, CEO, The Workers Circle
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President , Union of Reform Judaism
Leslie Lichter, Interim CEO, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director, Women of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

For more background on this letter, read this article in The Forward.

CONSERVATIVE/MASORTI MOVEMENT APPALLED BY CHABAD OF POWAY SHOOTING

May 1, 2019

At our Seder tables, we retell the Exodus story of the liberation from bondage of the Jewish people. Throughout the Passover holiday, we read of the power of redemption. Sadly, at the very same time when we celebrate the gift of freedom, we also recall the history of anti-semitism which weighs so heavily on us today.

We are deeply saddened and outraged at yet another senseless shooting of worshippers at prayer. This time, at the Chabad synagogue of Poway in San Diego County, one innocent woman has been murdered and three injured, including a child and the synagogue’s rabbi. It is not lost on us that this violence came both on Shabbat and the end of Passover, exactly six months to the day after the deadly shooting of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community.

Jews and all people of faith should be able to enter their houses of worship and live out the lives of their faith without fear, whether in Paris, Oak Creek, Charleston, Pittsburgh, Christchurch, Opelousas, Sri Lanka, Sunnyvale or Poway.

Deeply angered that modern-day anti-semitism has led to the increasing number of attacks on synagogues and Jewish institutions in the United States, we must stand together and condemn all hatred and bigotry. We need to be among the voices that oppose the rising tide of white nationalism and racism, as well as anti-semitism. We must be clear that language matters and indifference to it breeds violence.

The Jewish Community has kept the promise of redemption alive for thousands of years. We will not be deterred as we, along with people of all faiths, continue to work for the day when “Everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig tree and no one will make them afraid. (Micah 4:4)

Rabbinical Assembly
USCJ
Cantors Assembly
Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs
Jewish Educators Assembly
Jewish Theological Seminary
Jewish Youth Director’s Association
The Masorti Foundation
Masorti Movement in Israel
Masorti Olami
MERCAZ-Canada and Canadian Foundation for Masorti Judaism
Mercaz Olami
MERCAZ USA
North American Association of Synagogue Executives (NAASE)
The Schechter Institutes, Inc.
Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism
The Zacharias Frankel College
Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies

 

COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO NY TIMES CARTOON

April 29, 2019

Dear Mr. Baquet,

We, the undersigned organizations, were extremely disturbed by the Antisemitic cartoon published in the international edition of the New York Times on April 25th. While we appreciate the clarification and acknowledgment of responsibility, we contend that you continue to owe an explanation.

Moreover, it is difficult to fathom why, at a time of increasing Antisemitism and hate violence, the New York Times editors would have been so insensitive to the impact of such a cartoon. Were the editors not aware of the Pittsburgh shootings, the rise in hate crimes aimed at Jews, and the spike in Antisemitic rhetoric on both ends of the political spectrum, all of which are animated precisely by such depictions of Jews and Israel?

Specifically, we would like to know the following: 1. How did such a blatantly Antisemitic representation elude the editors? 2. What do you intend to do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? 3. What consequences do you intend to impose on the editors, cartoonist, and the syndicate?

We would appreciate an expeditious response. Thank you.

Sincerely,

JCPA National Organizations:
Anti-Defamation League
B’nai B’rith International
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, Inc.
Jewish Federations of North America
Jewish Labor Committee
National Council of Jewish Women
ORT America
Rabbinical Assembly
Reconstructing Judaism
Union for Reform Judaism
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

JCPA Local Organizations:
Atlanta Jewish Community Relations Council
Baltimore Jewish Council
Buffalo Jewish Community Relations Council
Charleston Jewish Federation
Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
Community Relations Council of Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest
Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley
Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater
Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council
JCRC of Greater Phoenix
JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines
Jewish Community Federation of Richmond
Jewish Community Relations Committee of Akron
Jewish Community Relations Committee of Columbus
Jewish Community Relations Committee of Greater Santa Barbara
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington
Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas
Jewish Community Relations Council of New York
Jewish Community Relations Council of Palm Beach County
Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Pittsburgh
Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, Sonoma, Alameda, and Contra Costa Counties
Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey
Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Charlotte
Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation
Jewish Community Relations Council, Jewish Federation of Cincinnati
Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC – Detroit
Jewish Federation of Central Massachussetts
Jewish Federation of Cleveland
Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne
Jewish Federation of Greater Ann Arbor
Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton
Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg
Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford
Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven
Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando
Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia
Jewish Federation of Greater Portland
Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle
Jewish Federation of Reading
Jewish Federation of San Antonio
Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee
Jewish Federation of Silicon Valley
Jewish Community Relations Council – Jewish Federation of Springfield
Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago
Memphis Jewish Federation
Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation
Tampa Jewish Federation
The Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York
The Jewish Federation of Northern New Jersey
United Jewish Community of the Virginia Peninsula
Youngstown Area Jewish Federation

Other Organizations:
Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs
Jewish Family Service of Seattle
Jewish Federation & Family Services
Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee
Jewish Federation of Central California
Jewish Federation of Edmonton
Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara
Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon & Warren Counties of New Jersey
Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey
Mercaz USA
New Jersey State Association of Jewish Federations
UJA Federation of Greenwich
Westchester Jewish Council

cc: Azam Ahmed