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Mercaz – Masorti in Israel – Needs YOU!

By Masorti Judaism

What if we told you that you can make a tangible difference to the lives of thousands of ordinary Israelis? That in the privacy of your own home, you can promote and support democratic values, religious pluralism and minority rights in Israel? And, that in the time it takes to boil a kettle, you could give a voice to Masorti rabbis, institutions, conversion programmes and youth clubs?

This year, we are inviting you to do just that, by becoming a member of Mercaz – Masorti for Israel.

What is Mercaz?

Israel has always been central to Masorti Jewish life. However, as the modern State of Israel developed, the Israeli government refused to recognise Masorti Judaism. As a result Masorti rabbis in Israel cannot conduct weddings or funerals and, while Orthodox Judaism is funded by the state, Masorti communities receive no public money. In the past year, the government has gone back on its promise to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, and a Masorti rabbi was arrested for carrying out unauthorised marriage ceremonies.

Mercaz was founded to bring together Masorti Jews from all over the world and to give us a voice with the Israeli government. Mercaz is also committed to bringing Masorti Jews in the Diaspora closer to Israel by supporting educational programmes for young people on Zionism, Israeli society and Hebrew.

Why is this important now?

Mercaz represents the interests of Masorti Judaism in the World Zionist Organization, a quasi-parliamentary body representing Jews from all over the world. The WZO provides crucial funding for Jewish education all over the world and, since the Israeli government only funds Orthodox institutions, it’s the only source of support for Masorti synagogues, schools, youth programs and teachers.

Every five years, the World Zionist Organization holds its International Congress at which crucial staffing and funding decisions are made. Delegates are elected in every country. The strength of Mercaz to appoint influential post-holders, secure money for Masorti institutions and shape the WZO’s agenda depends on how many delegates we elect.

Elections for the World Zionist Congress are just around the corner. This election is critically important to the future of Masorti Judaism in Israel, and to the future of religious pluralism, minority rights and democratic values. In fact, it is the only election where YOUR VOTE as a British Jew directly impacts the future of Masorti Judaism and Masorti values in Israel and around the world.

At a time when the Israeli government is pushing an increasingly intolerant, Orthodox agenda on religious issues, our voice is more important than ever. We need your help to ensure that Masorti voices, together with secular and other progressive voices, are heard.

What do you need to do?

Firstly, you need to become a member of Mercaz. The membership fee for Mercaz is £4 per year (£1 for students/unwaged). This gives you the right to vote in the upcoming Congress elections. Then you need to vote. The election will be run in early 2020 using an online voting system. More information to come…

Many of us feel powerless when we read about egalitarian prayer spaces being closed by police or Masorti rabbis being arrested for officiating at weddings. By becoming a member of Mercaz and voting in the World Zionist Congress elections, you can protect the values of pluralism, democracy and minority rights.

You can read more about Mercaz here

Posted on 3 September 2019