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Rabbi's Message

In the coming weeks, you will see me wearing a button that says: “I Voted Reform.”  You will also see a special display and other messaging at BHT about the importance of voting for the ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists in America) slate in the World Zionist Congress Elections.  

It may all seem very mystifying to you!  Why would we American Jews vote in an election that has to do with Israel?  What does this have to do with us? Why spend time thinking about this when we have enough to contend with in our own elections here in America?  They are all good questions. 

 

The World Zionist Congress was first convened in 1897, 50 years before there ever was a State of Israel.  It was convened by Israel’s founding father, Theodor Herzl in Basel, Switzerland. His idea was to bring together Jews from all over the world to share ideas about how to create a Jewish State in Israel.  But the thing is, even after the State was born in 1948, Israel’s leaders still wanted the input of world Jewry about what the character of the State of Israel ought to be. 

And so, to this day, every 4-5 years, the World Zionist Congress convenes. This year’s WZC will be the 38th convening. Jews of all viewpoints, from all over the world, have the chance to weigh in on issues and questions facing the Jewish State by voting for a slate of their choosing between now and March 11. The people who are on the slate will then attend the Congress and vote the values of those who selected them. We may not live in Israel; we may have not yet visited Israel; but as Jews we all have a stake in what the Jewish State should be or become.  

(Please note that these elections have nothing to do with the political parties in Israel and their elections for Knesset or Prime Minister.) 

In recent WZC Elections, the Reform Movement all over the world has mobilized to push for a more religiously pluralistic Israel, where Jews of all streams are supported and included, where women have equal rights, and for an Israel in which the Orthodox do not have a stranglehold on Jewish identity and Jewish life. Great strides have been made due to the number of seats in the WZC the ARZA slate and other progressive slates were able to gain in that past decade or two. This only happened because Reform Jews came out to vote in large numbers. We must do so again.

Today it is so easy to vote.  You register and vote online. Go to: https://arza.org/who-we-are/world-zionist-congress-elections/ 

You pay $7.50 to register (or $5.00 if you are between 18-25.)  The only qualifying criterion is that you must be Jewish. 

To learn more about the WZC elections and why you should Vote Reform for the ARZA slate, go to arza.org, pick up some of the materials on display at BHT, or come to a “Lunch and Learn” on the topic in Gurnee (Feb. 18) or at the Temple (Feb. 19).  (See elsewhere in this Achshav newsletter.) Or talk to our ARZA chair: Alice Thomson.

I Voted Reform.  Will you?

Rabbi Dena A. Feingold

Wed, April 1 2020 7 Nisan 5780