Sarrae Crane, Executive Director, MERCAZ USA
It is hard to believe that the last day that I worked in the office was the day after the conclusion of the elections of the delegates to the World Zionist Congress. So much has happened since then – in the world, in Israel, in the U.S. and yes – for MERCAZ USA as well. It has been a difficult time for all of us and for me personally with the loss of my father. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who reached out to comfort me.
The last year has certainly been a learning experience. Each of the challenges that have and continue to confront us has taught us many things and made us rethink our values and what we really care about.
We are Zionists because deep in our hearts we know that Israel is of paramount importance to the Jewish people. The Conservative/Masorti Movement has always had Zionism at its core – even before MERCAZ was established in 1979. We know that our members hold a wide range of political views and that is a source of great pride for us. What unites us is our love of Israel and the Jewish people and our embrace of its multifaceted nature.
Clearly our main goal is to achieve the recognition and legitimization of religious pluralism in the State of Israel and within the National Institutions of the Jewish people. Beyond that, we want to focus on what we can do to keep you more informed as to what is happening within our Movement in Israel as well as around the globe and to offer insight into what is going in Israel behind the headlines.
In the spring we began a new project, MERCAZ Reads Israel. Co-sponsored by the Israel Forever Foundation, MERCAZ Canada joined the collaboration with our second book, and MERCAZ UK will be participating with us beginning with our third book.
You can learn more about MERCAZ Reads Israel in the article which appears later in this newsletter, where we announce our third book selection.
Speaking of collaborations, we are delighted to announce that going forward we will be partnering with our fellow English-speaking MERCAZ organizations, Mercaz Canada and Mercaz UK (United Kingdom) on a number of initiatives. It is our hope that this arrangement will enable all of us to provide a wider variety of educational and engagement opportunities for members of the Conservative/Masorti community we collectively serve.
The first of these programs will be held on Tu B’Shvat (Wednesday, January 27 at 3:00 p.m. EST) in collaboration with the Cantors Assembly. We are delighted to be able to celebrate this Zionist chag (holiday) together, which draws our attention to the land of Israel and our connections to it.
As you may have noticed during the election campaign, we have increased our presence on social media. Our website, and Facebook page are up-to-date and our Twitter account is back in business. This is thanks to Howard Goldberg, who came to work with us on the campaign, and has stayed with us on a project-by-project basis. We are most grateful to him, for keeping us current.
Finally, be sure to join us each Erev Shabbat (currently at 4:00 p.m. EST) for a delightful Zoom (tinyurl.com/MERCAZErevShabbat) get together with MERCAZ Canada, the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, the International Kiddush Club & the Cantors Assembly. Each week a different Cantor brings great stories and melodies that delight us. Recently, Cantor Barbara Haimowitz, PhD, the Cantor and Religious School Director at Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge, CT, treated us to authentic melodies from Dutch Jewish community.
Please join us for our programs! I encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas with us! Wishing you and your families a happy, healthy and safe 2021.