By Bernie Goldblatt, Executive Director
The week of October 19th the 27th World Zionist Congress was held in Jerusalem. This congress was established by Theodore Herzl and first met in Basel, Switzerland in 1897. The World Zionist Organization (WZO) was essential in the founding of the State of Israel and continues its important work today.
Representatives from countries all over the world participate in the Congress and work on issues like combatting anti-Semitism, promoting aliyah and connecting world Jewry with the State of Israel. I had the honor to attend the Congress as a member of the Mercaz delegation. Mercaz is the American Zionist organization of the Conservative movement. Mercaz is the Hebrew word for "center" and it symbolizes the idea that Zionism is central to Conservative Judaism and that we reject both political and religious extremes. Masorti (Conservative Judaism in Israel) offers meaningful religious alternatives to Israelis which until recently were missing from the landscape of Israeli life. Thus, one of the key agendas of the Mercaz slate at the World Zionist Congress was pluralism in Israeli religious and political spheres.
It was fascinating to meet and get to know delegates from 30 countries, all with diverse backgrounds and opinions. With 700 representatives of world Jewry you can imagine there were at least 1400 opinions on the issues! I am happy to report the vast majority of winning votes were ones that Mercaz endorsed, especially the ones on pluralism. This will have monetary and programmatic significance and send a strong message to the Israeli government about the importance of pluralism to world Jewry.
On a personal level, I lived in Israel for 1-1/2 years, have visited over 15 times, and met my wife, Leslie there. To have a chance to participate as an insider at the World Zionist Congress was something I never expected to be able to do. It made me proud to be Jewish and participate in the political process of world Judaism in Israel. Leslie came to Israel after the conference and we spent two weeks in Tel Aviv. During that time we walked all over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and never once felt unsafe. Despite the atrocious anti-Semitism and biased reporting in the world media, the streets are safe and the beaches are great. Israel waits to warmly welcome you. Come and visit this "start up" nation that is a world leader in so many ways and, most importantly, belongs to you.
Adath clergy, staff and congregants share