Mission & History

Our Mission

MERCAZ USA is the United States branch of MERCAZ OLAMI, the Zionist organization of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement.

MERCAZ represents Masorti Judaism within the World Zionist Organization and Congress, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Zionist Movement, and the Jewish National Fund. MERCAZ is the force that advocates for funding of pluralistic streams of Judaism in Israel through the World Zionist Congress, which is crucial to our movement’s growth in Israel and around the globe.

Our mission is to further the cause for true religious pluralism in Israel and strengthen the connection between, and create engagement opportunities for, the people of Israel and Jews living in the Diaspora. MERCAZ USA is proud to be the sponsor of ‘Masorti on Campus,’ supporting Masorti activities on college/university campuses, and ‘Mercaz Reads Israel,’ an online book club connecting Diaspora Jews to Israeli authors.

MERCAZ USA works in cooperation with all the other arms of Conservative Movement including the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Rabbinical Assembly, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, Cantors Assembly, Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, National Ramah Commission, Jewish Educators Assembly, North American Association of Synagogue Executives and Solomon Schechter Day School Association; is affiliated with MERCAZ OLAMI and the other MERCAZ chapters in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine and Uruguay; and is supported by individual and family memberships in its annual membership campaign.

Your affiliation with MERCAZ USA signifies acceptance of the Jerusalem Program, which defines the Foundations of Zionism as:

  • The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation.
  • Aliyah to Israel from all countries and the effective integration of all immigrants into Israeli Society.
  • Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.
  • Ensuring the future and the distinctiveness of the Jewish People by furthering Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education, fostering spiritual and cultural values and teaching Hebrew as the national language.
  • Nurturing mutual Jewish responsibility, defending the rights of Jews as individuals and as a nation, representing the national Zionist interests of the Jewish people, and struggling against all manifestations of anti-Semitism.
  • Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.

Our History

Unlike other religious movements, the Conservative Movement, from its inception, embraced Zionism and the centrality of Israel in Jewish life. Perhaps that is why we did not originally feel the need for a separate Zionist organization. However, as the Modern State of Israel developed, the very powerful Religious Affairs Ministry did not sanction Conservative/Masorti Judaism, and disqualified its institutions from recognition, authority, and funding. In order to help these institutions enrich the lives of those Israelis who have been disenfranchised and alienated by the “religion of the state”, it became necessary to create a new entity that would represent the interests of Conservative/Masorti Judaism and allow it to make its unique contribution to the quality of religious life in Israel.

MERCAZ USA must serve as the Zionist conscience and Zionist resource for all arms of our Movement. Since the Conservative Movement believes that Israel and Zionism are essential components in Jewish life, we maintain an organization whose mission is the promotion of Zionist education and activities, Israel programs for youth and adults, and Aliyah.