Welcoming Words | A Message from the President

Dr. Marilyn Lishnoff Wind, President, MERCAZ USA

We hope that you are safe and healthy and managing in this strange world in which we are living. These past months, courtesy of Zoom and other social media tools, Sarrae and I have been working from our homes to ensure that MERCAZ USA continues to be vitally active. The World Zionist Congress was held virtually and hopefully there will be an in-person Extraordinary Congress in Jerusalem sometime in 2021. The Jewish Agency meetings were also held virtually. Needless to say, the camaraderie and ambience from being in Israel were sorely missed.

You will read in other parts of the newsletter about how the Haredim and right of center parties tried to form a coalition agreement that barred center and left-of-center parties from the World Zionist Organization, Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael, Keren HaYasod, and the Jewish Agency. Because of the good working relationships that we have with Hadassah, B’nai B’rith, Na’amat, along with other organizations who don’t normally vote on coalition agreements, the effort to exclude us was thwarted and an agreement was reached that was not ideal, but gave us significant representation and additional money for our projects.

While MERCAZ was able to increase its vote in the World Zionist elections by 50% over what we received in the previous election, Eretz HaChodesh, an ultra-orthodox party who had never run before, garnered more votes than we did, running on a platform that was anti-pluralism in Israel. It was clear that their rabbis were very successful in motivating their people to vote.

The reality is that if we look at the percentage of Jews who identify as Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, or secular it is significantly larger than those who identify as Orthodox. Our challenge is to increase the percentage of those outside of the orthodox camp who participate in the elections for the Zionist Congress.

To do so, we need to work together as a Movement to educate our friends and families about why MERCAZ is important. This needs to be an ongoing process, not one year out of five. If you believe in pluralism in Israel and throughout the world; if you believe that our Israeli congregations should merit official recognition in the Jewish state; if you believe that Israeli Conservative/Masorti rabbis should be able to officiate at marriages, perform conversions, and conduct funerals, then you need to become our partners to spread your knowledge of why MERCAZ USA should be supported.

We need you, your friends and families to join or renew your membership now. Only if we have your support will we be in a position to mobilize our communities in coming years.

Wishing you a Chag Urim Sameach and wishes for a healthy secular new year.