By Daryl Messinger
Next Week I will be travelling to Jerusalem to lead a delegation of more than 60 Reform Jews and Zionists to represent our North American Reform Movement at the World Zionist Congress*.
Since the Congress in 2020 took place online only, the World Zionist Organization* is running an “Extra-ordinary” Congress. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT TIME FOR US TO SHOW UP AND DEMONSTRATE OUR COMMITMENT TO ISRAEL AS A JEWISH AND DEMOCRATIC STATE. We will fight for the importance of Israel’s founding principles outlined in its Declaration of Independence, for religious pluralism, LGBTQ+ rights and gender equality, and for basic human and civil rights.
As a Movement we have joined forces with our Israeli Reform partners in raising our voices against the proposed judicial overhaul, and in support of Israeli democracy. We also know that this is a time when the current people in power are trying to cut any and all funding to the Reform and Conservative Movements.
These threats are clear and present in the Jewish Agency, the World Zionist Organization, and the KKL-JNF, where ultra-Orthodox and ultra-Nationalist parties are looking to control both the agenda and the budgets.
We cannot let that happen.
That is why we are showing up.
We are also showing up to celebrate! Israel is turning 75, and we are showing up to celebrate the miracle that is the modern State of Israel! We will join together for a festive Kabbalat Shabbat in Tel Aviv with our Israeli Reform Movement on “Shabbat Tekumah” (the Shabbat between Yom HaShoah and Yom Haatzmaut) to celebrate 75 years of a Jewish and democratic State. There will be many events, protests, discussions, and we have a wonderful delegation of leaders, young people, clergy, and I look forward to reporting back and kicking off a year of engagement, education, and mobilization!
I am proud of the work of our Movement – of our unwavering commitment to Israel and our advocacy in support of democracy and for the values that we hold dear. We will continue to strengthen and build on our love and support of a Jewish, democratic Israel as we move beyond this Congress and look to the World Zionist Congress elections in 2025!!
Happy Independence Day and Shabbat Shalom!
Chair, ARZA and Immediate Past Chair, URJ
* The World Zionist Organization (WZO) was founded in 1897 by Theodor Herzl and served as the “Parliament of the Jewish People”. It designates representatives for the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth L’Yisrael (KKL or JNF Israel) and other affiliates. Importantly, the WZO makes decisions that influence nearly $1 billion in funding and paid portfolios. This is the table at which representatives of Diaspora Zionist organizations sit with reps of Israeli political parties to discuss policy and allocations. These National Institutions define executive policy, departmental direction, and budgetary decisions and can have significant impact on key issues we care about: pluralism, a two-state solution, economic and social justice.