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Why Liberal Israelis (Like Me) Need You

Why Liberal Israelis (Like Me) Need You

Wooden ballot box with lock into which a voter is depositing a "ballot" that says Vote

We’re a small minority of olim, the folks who emigrate to Israel, Reform and other liberal Jews who are now on the ground as part of the Zionist project.

Make no mistake. It’s been an adventure, beautiful and challenging, but we from the U.S. typically give up easier lives to be here.

We need you.

The 38th World Zionist Congress (WZC) will meet in Jerusalem in 2020. The WZC, the Parliament of the Jewish People, meets every five years. You have a vote in selecting the 500 delegates – just as we have a vote in the Israeli elections scheduled for September 17th – elections that will yield a new Knesset (Israeli parliament) and, hopefully, a new prime minister.

We need each other. We vote here. You vote there.

Our promise: to vote as liberal Jews in the Israeli elections, as Reform Jews expressing values core to the movement.

What we ask: Vote in the WZC elections, so our shared values have a large and robust voice in this critical convocation. Any Jew over the age of 18 is eligible to vote.

“We have an opportunity to use the vehicle of the Congress to make a serious impact, one we cannot afford to miss,” wrote Rabbi Josh Weinberg, vice president of the URJ for Israel and Reform Zionism and executive director of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, on a Facebook thread. “Our success in the elections will be an extremely important statement attesting to the Reform Movement’s strength and our desire to be part of the Israeli political discussion.”

Here’s what’s at stake, according to the URJ’s Inside Leadership blog:

A strong election turnout among North America’s Reform Jews and our supporters and allies will ensure that financial resources will continue to flow to our Israeli movement – including Reform congregations and institutions. It also will allow the Movement to fill 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). 

Currently, the United States has 145 delegates in the WZC, the largest single delegation outside of Israel. Of them, 56 represent the Reform Movement and have been able to help direct more than $20 million to the Israeli Reform Movement.

The URJ is encouraging congregations to begin now. Talk about the elections during the High Holidays. Designating a congregational captain to increase participation. Take advantage of Reform Movement resources, such as attending a special Sunday symposium about the elections at the upcoming URJ Biennial. The elections will be held from January 21 to March 11, which is Purim. Voting will be completed online, accessible from mobile devices.

The bottom line: Reform Jews in Israel will stand up to represent the movement in Israeli elections. As Reform Jews in the U.S., you can represent us in the WZC elections.

Let’s make that pledge to each other.

Let’s make our mark.

Here are two versions of a prayer for the upcoming elections in Israel:

For Wisdom During Israel’s Elections (For Non-Voters)

God of Justice,
Protector and Redeemer,
Grant guidance to the citizens of Israel
As they select leaders
To serve and to govern,
The men and women who promise
To bring prosperity to the land,
The men and women who promise
To protect homes and secure the borders.

Grant wisdom and courage to voters
To entrust the government to visionaries and statesmen,
To elect those who will serve Israeli citizens –
And all who reside within its borders –
With honor and integrity,
To forge a flourishing and peaceful future,
A land flowing with milk and honey.

Bless the Prime Minister and Knesset
With vision and strength,
Fortitude and insight.
May they lead Israel to a time
When liberty and equality
Reign supreme throughout the land,
So that a new light will shine forth from Zion.

God of Truth,
Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that truth and harmony will resound
From the four corners of the earth.
Let the light of Israeli democracy grow,
Let it shine brightly,
A beacon of hope
For every land and every people.

For Wisdom During Israel’s Elections (For Voters)

God of Justice,
Protector and Redeemer,
Grant guidance to our nation
As we select leaders
To serve and to govern,
The men and women who promise
To bring prosperity to our land,
The men and women who promise
To protect our homes and secure our borders.

Grant us wisdom and courage
So that we entrust our government to visionaries and statesmen,
So that we elect those who will serve our citizens –
And all who reside within our borders –
With honor and integrity,
To forge a flourishing and peaceful future,
A land flowing with milk and honey.

Bless our Prime Minister and Knesset
With vision and strength,
Fortitude and insight.
May they lead us to a time
When liberty and equality
Reign supreme throughout the land,
So that a new light will shine forth from Zion.

God of Truth,
Source and Shelter,
Grant safety and security to all nations,
So that truth and harmony will resound
From the four corners of the earth.
Let the light of Israeli democracy grow,
Let it shine brightly,
A beacon of hope
For every land and every people.

For Wisdom During Israel’s Elections” is © 2013 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.

 

Alden Solovy is a liturgist, poet, and teacher. His teaching spans from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem to Limmud UK and synagogues throughout the U.S. Before making aliyah to Israel in 2012, Alden was a member of Beth Emet-The Free Synagogue, Evanston, IL, and a regular participant in worship at B'nai Jeshoshua Beth Elohim, Deerfield, IL. He’s the author of Jewish Prayers of Hope and HealingHis writing also appears in several CCAR Press books, including two anthologies of his work, This Grateful Heart: Psalms and Prayers for a New Dayand his latest book, This Joyous Soul: A New Voice for Ancient Yearnings.

 

Alden Solovy
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