Chevre,

In 1897, a visionary named Theodor Herzl joined with other Zionists to form the Zionist Congress. The Congress was the legislative body of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), a non-governmental entity that promoted Zionism. Today, the two bodies are known respectively as the World Zionist Congress (WZC) and the World Zionist Organization (WZO). The State of Israel, of course, is the manifestation of the success of these bodies.

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.

The 38th World Zionist Congress is scheduled to meet in Jerusalem from October 20-23, 2020; upcoming 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.

I want to impress upon you the importance of voting. It is an opportunity and responsibility as a member of the worldwide Jewish community, one unparalleled in any other religious/ethnic community.

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), for example, 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.}

I’m writing not to encourage you to vote, necessarily, for the Reform slate, although I would welcome that. I encourage you to find out about the different slates and then to vote for the one that best represents your interests.

A strong election turnout among North America’s Jews will help to determine where significant financial resources end up going within Israel. It also will determine who fills 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, for example, would ensure that decisions about government and public spending over the Green Line – i.e., in the disputed Occupied Territories – including land purchases, reflect liberal 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, and peace.

All voting will be completed online and will be accessible from mobile devices. It is a simple process and will take only a few minutes. {It took me only three.} If you would like to learn about the different slates before voting, click here.

You are always welcome to contact me for information.

You can click here to access the WZC site to register and vote. There is a charge of $7.50 to process the vote. If you would like to visit ARZA, the Zionist organization of the Reform Movement, click here.

L’shalom,
Marc

* Most of the above information was taken from the website of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America. I edited it by choosing only specific sections and by making it, for the most part, less specifically “Reform.”

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