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Here's How We Can Create a Diverse, Pluralistic, and Inclusive Israel

Here's How We Can Create a Diverse, Pluralistic, and Inclusive Israel

Three smiling teens holding I LOVE ISRAEL signs

I have the immense honor of being a candidate on the ARZA Reform and Reconstructionist Slate for the currently ongoing World Zionist Congress. It is a phenomenal distinction to be on a slate alongside so many impactful and dynamic Jewish leaders, with the chance to be a delegate at the Congress in Israel this October.

As a Jew with many intersecting identities – or “Jewish and-ands,” as we call them on the podcast Wholly Jewish – this year’s Congress is incredibly important to me and to Jews of all backgrounds across the world.

Meeting every five years, the World Zionist Congress is the only occurrence where all Jews are democratically represented. (Learn more about the Congress and the elections in this comprehensive FAQ.) This means Jews in the Diaspora have the power, with their vote, to impact how Israel allocates funding toward and creates policy around Reform and Progressive Jewry, both in Israel and worldwide.

Translation? When you cast your vote for the Reform slate, you cast a vote to help create an Israeli society rooted in the tenets of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Despite what some of those in power in Israel might believe, there is no singular way to be a Jew. Jews in Israel and the Diaspora come from many different races and ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ability statuses, and levels of Jewish observance – often all at once.

As someone who is Jewish and Black and bisexual and a Zionist, among many other identities, I can personally attest to the reality that there is more than one way to be Jewish, to look Jewish, and to act Jewish. And I envision an Israel where Jews of all identities, lived experiences, and streams of Judaism are treated equitably under the law

Jewish unity and equity are as important now as they have ever been. Torah teaches us that when the Jewish people received the Torah, every Jew – past, present, and future – stood there at Mt. Sinai together. This means that every, single Jew – Reform or Orthodox, LGBTQ+ or straight, white or Black – is connected to one another. And voting Reform means voting for an Israel that establishes this truth as the status quo.

Ever since I took the Introduction to Judaism class that propelled me to convert to Judaism, I’ve wanted not only to visit Israel but to work hand-in-hand with Jews in Israel and the Diaspora to create an Israeli society that reflects our Reform values of diversity, pluralism, and true equality.

Will you join me in getting out the vote and turning our values into action? Voting in the WZC is open through March 11, 2020, and casting your ballot is simple. Just visit azm.org/elections, click the "voter registration" button, and follow the instructions. Once you've cast your vote, spread the word and share with family and friends that you've voted. We also encourage you to post on social media using the hashtag #VoteReformWZC and.or to change your Facebook profile using the “I Voted Reform" frame. 

Learn more about the World Zionist Congress elections, then cast your vote for the slate titled "Vote Reform: ARZA Representing the Reform Movement and Reconstructing Judaism."

Chris Harrison is the writer and editor for audacious hospitality at the Union for Reform Judaism and a fellow in its 2018 JewV’Nation Fellowship’s Jews of Color Leadership Cohort. He earned his B.A. in English/creative writing and film studies at Miami University and his Certificate in Jewish Leadership through Spertus Institute and Northwestern University. Chris lives with his partner and four pets in metro Detroit, where he serves on Temple Beth El’s audacious hospitality group and the Jewish Federation’s NEXTGen LGBTQA pride committee.

Chris Harrison
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