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.


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).

Get Ready to ‘Join’ the 38th World Zionist Congress

On Tuesday, October 20, 2020, the thirty-eighth World Zionist Congress will convene.

This year, the Congress will not sit in the Capital of our National and spiritual homeland, Jerusalem – but will gather together from the four corners of the globe remotely, due to the ongoing pandemic.

Much of the Congress will be live-streamed, and we hope you will support our MERCAZ USA/Olami delegates by watching the proceedings and cheering them on through your social media posts!

The Congress will be streamed from 9:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Eastern (4:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Israel) on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, October 20-22. You will be able to access the live stream via the official WZC38 streaming page of the 38th World Zionist Congress and via their Facebook page.

We will also provide updates here on our website and on our social media channels. To follow the Congress on social media (via MERCAZ USA and other feeds), search on the following official Congress tags


Be sure to use these tags if you post about the Congress on social media, and also tag MERCAZ USA if you post about the Congress on your social media feeds:

Twitter: @VoteMercazUSA
Facebook: @mercazusa (Mercaz USA מרכז)
Instagram: @votemercazusa

To learn more about the Congress, you can visit the official 38th World Zionist Congress website. A few pages on the site that you may want to explore are:

You can also download this PDF version of the slide deck the American Zionist Movement created, presenting an overview of the 2020 World Zionist Congress.

Official U.S. Zionist Congress Election Results Have Been Posted

From January 21 through March 11, the American Zionist Movement coordinated a historic Zionist Election to determine the number of delegates, representing 15 slates (including MERCAZ) from the U.S., to serve as representatives in the upcoming 38th World Zionist Organization Congress.

The official results are in! With a final tally of 123,629 votes, turnout was the highest in 30 years and more than double compared to the last election in 2015.

Detailed election results and additional information can be found on the AZM’s election results landing page.

World Zionist Congress Election 2020 Update

The preliminary results for the 2020 World Zionist Congress election in the U.S. were released by the American Zionist Movement on March 23.

We recognize that in the short time since the election for the World Zionist Congress has ended, that the world has changed dramatically in the wake of Covid-19. We hope you and your loved ones are all well and safe. We also wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your support of the MERCAZ Slate during the recent World Zionist Congress election.

We need to acknowledge that without the diligent efforts of Laurie Moskowitz, David Joseph, Melissa Kerbel, Howard Goldberg and our interns Jordana Meyer, and Alan Imar, we could not have mounted such an active campaign. We are indebted to them and to you for your efforts.

This election happens only once every five years and yet it is critically important if we want Israel to be a place that recognizes a thriving pluralistic society in which all streams of Judaism are welcome and supported.

Six weeks was a long time to have voting open, and our goal was to get as many people as possible to vote for the MERCAZ Slate. We know that many of you received multiple messages from us – even when you voted early. Many of you shared our materials and got your family, friends, and networks to vote. Some of you made videos for the cause. We appreciate it all.

The final results of the election are not yet known, there are many paper ballots that came in during the last days of the election that are still being counted. We will let you know the outcome as soon as we have it, including what the overall election numbers mean for our mandates.

We hope that you will continue to engage with MERCAZ. We would very much appreciate your feedback on the campaign – what we did well, what we could do better and any other ideas for 2025. Please reach out to Sarrae at sarrae@mercazusa.org with an email or to schedule a conversation.

On behalf of MERCAZ and the entire campaign team our deepest and sincere appreciation. Stay safe and healthy.


Marilyn Wind, President, MERCAZ

Sarrae G. Crane, Executive Director