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Rabbi's Weekly Message

Rabbi's Message

The first votes have been cast!

As we have been sharing over the last several weeks, the Jewish world has the opportunity to participate in a very important exercise, the elections for the World Zionist Congress.   The voting is now open, and I urge you to cast your vote.

Following is a powerful explanation of this organization and the election process from my colleague, Rabbi Josh Weinberg, who serves as the leader of ARZA, the Reform Zionist group in American.

THE WORLD ZIONIST CONGRESS (WZC) IS YOUR ONLY DEMOCRATIC OPPORTUNITY TO HAVE A VOICE IN ISRAEL! 

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.
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 (Today!) through March 11, 2020 (Purim).
 
For Step-by-step Instructions on How to Vote go to:

http://arza.org/election/
 
Who is eligible to vote?

One must be 18 or over
Have residence in the United States
Not vote for the Knesset in the upcoming March 2nd election.
Sign the Jerusalem Program (this is a click box, and if you have questions or concerns about this please see here)
Pay an administrative fee of $7.50 (or $5.00 if you are 18-25 years old). (This is just to cover costs of the elections and is not a charitable donation. The voting website is a secure website and no need to worry about credit card information online).
Vote Reform! (#2 on the Ballot)

 
WHY VOTE REFORM?

Well, for many reasons, but here are just a few:
 
The Reform Moment is more than a political slate.  It is a “Movement” which has the strength to influence policy and effectuate change within the National Institutions in support of Reform Judaism in Israel and in the promotion of an Israeli society that supports our values and philosophy of religious pluralism and justice for all.  Most importantly, it is the only slate so positioned.

 
1. Promoting Religious pluralism
 
Do you care about being recognized in Israel as a Reform Jew???

The Reform Movement promotes religious pluralism through the National Institutions. By nature, the National Institutions’ main focus is on issues pertaining to Israeli society such as religious pluralism and equality. They do not focus on matters of national security or diplomacy.  Therefore, the Reform Movement’s platform concentrates on those areas that the National Institutions impact - issues such as conversion, marriage/divorce, burial, recognition for non-Orthodox rabbis, transportation on Shabbat and many more.  Our Movement will stand to gain significant support from our strength at the World Zionist Congress in order to fulfill our sacred mission.
 
2. Preventing public Jewish money from going to WB Settlements
 
The Reform Movement lead recent efforts to curb egregious land acquisitions in the West Bank when we learned that KKL (JNF-Israel) was spending hundreds of millions of shekels in West Bank Settlements.  The Reform Movement blew the whistle and the Reform Movement is leading efforts to enact stricter oversight in the future.  These purchases violated the principles of transparency and proper management as well as deceived the board of directors and most senior leaders of the organization.  Most importantly, the Reform Movement is at the forefront of monitoring land acquisitions which have a significant practical impact on the eventual possibility of a two-state solution.
 
3. Political Power
 
The Reform Movement is uniquely positioned to create a large progressive coalition that would include, but not be limited to, the progressive political parties in Israel.  We know that the left-wing parties have seen a drastic decrease in public support and Knesset representation in Israel’s recent elections.  The Reform Movement has the ability to join in coalition with the progressive parties but is not constricted by the political limitations of the parties which have seen a 75% reduction in its Knesset seats. 
 
4. Combatting Racism
 
The Reform Movement lawyer’s successfully led efforts in the Israel Supreme Court to prevent 3 candidates of the extreme right-wing party Otzma Yehudit party from running in recent Knesset elections.  These candidates support a racist, homophobic, and xenophobic platform, and we’ve seen in the past week, PM Netanyahu publicly embrace them and encourage them to take high profile positions to stay out of the race. 
 
The Reform Movement will continue efforts to make sure that racism has no place in Israel and in the Knesset.

 

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Stein

Parashat

Parashat Vaera
January 25, 2020

In this Torah portion, God tells Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh to demand freedom for the Israelites. Pharaoh refuses, and God unleashes plagues on the Egyptians. Pharaoh promises to free the Israelites, but God hardens Pharaoh’s heart. The portion ends with the plague of hail stopping and Pharaoh changing his mind once again.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE