KEEPING CONNECTED FEBRUARY 2020
In this month’s blog, I would like to invite you to learn more about the World Zionist Congress and your ability to participate in an important election. The WZC elections are the ONLY way for American Jews to democratically participate in issues about Israel. Below is important information from ARZA (the American Reform Zionist Association). ARZA is a branch of the Union for Reform Judaism that promotes religious freedom and pluralism in Israel. You can learn more are ARZA and the work that they do at their web-site: ARZA https://arza.org.
This video link will also explain more about the WZC elections: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLl9maQlMGQ&feature=youtu.be
Rabbi Shoshana M. Perry
What is the World Zionist Congress?:
Established by Theodor Herzl in 1897, the Zionist Congress (as it was originally known) was the legislative body of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), a non-governmental entity that promotes Zionism. Today, the two bodies are known respectively as the World Zionist Congress (WZC) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO).
The WZC, also known as the Parliament of the Jewish People, comprises 500 delegates and meets in Jerusalem every five years. It enables delegates to exert ideological influence on both Israeli society and the global Jewish agenda, as well as allocate financial and other resources to various organizations – including the Reform Movement – in Israel.
Why The WZC Matters NOW!:
The 38th World Zionist Congress is scheduled to meet in Jerusalem from October 20-23, 2020; the elections will determine the size of the various delegations to the Congress and are scheduled to be held from January 21 to March 11, 2020 (MLK Day to Purim).
Currently, the United States has 145 delegates in the WZC, the largest single delegation outside Israel. Thanks to a robust turnout in the 2015 elections, 56 of the 145 delegates (39 percent) represent the Reform Movement and, as a result, have been able to ensure that more than $4 million a year ($20 million over five years) is being directed to the Israeli Reform Movement. By comparison, the Israeli government annually provides nearly 4 billion NIS ($1.1 billion) to Orthodox and Haredi institutions in Israel.
A strong election turnout among North America’s Reform Jews and our supporters and allies will ensure that financial resources will continue to flow to our Israeli movement – including Reform congregations and institutions. It also will allow us to fill leadership positions in some of Israel’s national institutions, including the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency for Israel, and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF).
A leadership role in KKL-JNF will enable us to ensure that decisions about government and public spending over the Green Line, including land purchases, reflect the Reform Movement’s values and positions. Only in this way can we continue to build a democratic society in Israel that truly reflects the Jewish values we hold dear: pluralism, equality, economic justice, peace and a commitment to a Two-State Solution.
We also joined forces with Israeli political parties to influence Israeli society in matters of conversion, marriage and divorce, religious pluralism, gender rights, and combatting racism; as a result, we have passed key resolutions in the World Zionist Organization’s policy body for equality, transparency, and pluralism. Our faction currently includes the Meretz and Labor parties and will be subject to change after the next round of elections.
What’s more, because JAFI and the WZO support programs of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), high voter turnout will provide support for WUPJ congregations and for Netzer Olami and Tamar, which offer programming for Progressive Jewish youth and young adults in communities around the world.
This year, in 2020 we hope to have an even stronger representation and look forward to all Reform Jews in the United States to stand up and be counted!
Important Recommendation from ARZA:
The Jerusalem Program is the platform of the World Zionist Organization. It does not favor any specific organizational or political platform. It does not encourage Settlement activity across the Green line and simply tries to espouse the central principles of Zionism today. We are asking all those who vote to simply acknowledge that this is the platform of the World Zionist Organization.
Vote Anytime Between January 21st and March 11, 2020: