Everything You Need to Know About the 2020 World Zionist Congress Election

January 14, 2020

Want to help Progressive Judaism increase its political clout in Israel? You can do so by participating in the 2020 World Zionist Congress (WZC) election, which run from January 21 to March 11, 2020 (MLK Day to Purim). These elections are held only every five years, and your vote for the ARZA slate will give the liberal Jewish community in Israel the opportunity to receive significant funds for Reform institutions and programs. You can also help mobilize others in your community to participate. Here’s everything you need to know about what the World Zionist Congress elections are, why they matter, and how you can vote.

What is the World Zionist Organization? 

The World Zionist Organization (WZO) was founded by Theodor Herzl at the First World Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897.

Today, it serves as the parliament of the Jewish people and designates representatives to The Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), The Jewish National Fund (JNF), and other affiliates.

The WZO utilizes the World Zionist Congress to establish its policies and internally elect leadership to the bodies that define executive policy, departmental direction, and budgetary decisions.

What is the World Zionist Congress?  

The World Zionist Congress is the WZO’s legislative body. The Congress, which meets every five years in Jerusalem, is the only body in which all of World Jewry is represented democratically.

It determines policy, designates its course of action, and chooses the leadership of the World Zionist Organization. These decisions influence hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and paid portfolios.

Importantly, the Congress makes decisions that affect the status of Reform Jews in Israel and across the world and allocates considerable funding available to Progressive Jews in Israel. The American delegation to the Congress is the largest single delegation from outside of Israel, with 145 delegates.

Why is this important?

The decisions of the Congress influence hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and the Reform movement currently receives over $4 million each year. Because the election is held every five years, the impact of the election could impact more than $20 million for Reform institutions and program in Israel and the United States.

In addition, the Congress will help determine the leadership of the Israeli national institutions, budgetary decisions, and policy in Israel and worldwide.

In short, the WZC elections in the United States is crucial for the growth and influence of the Reform Movement in Israel and around the world.

What is ARZA?   

ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, is the Zionist arm and voice of the Reform Movement and an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, serving 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America.

How does ARZA help Reform Judaism in Israel?   

ARZA provides the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) and the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) with financial support generated through individual membership dollars from members of URJ congregations.

ARZA, and its umbrella organization ARZENU, represents Reform Judaism in the World Zionist Organization thereby providing a strong voice for Reform Jews in America and our movement Israel in this worldwide organization.

ARZA is the vehicle for the collective participation of American Reform Jews in the Israel engagement agenda with an emphasis on advocacy, travel, and Zionist education in North America. Its mission is to make Israel fundamental to the sacred lives and Jewish identity of Reform Jews.

A Zionist organization, ARZA supports Israel and champions activities that further Israel as a pluralistic, just, and democratic Jewish state.

How does ARZA represent itself in the Congress?  

ARZA is a proud member of ARZENU, the umbrella organization of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists. ARZENU has constituent groups in 14 countries and represents the interests of these groups and of Reform and Progressive Judaism worldwide in the governing bodies of the World Zionist Organization and in the Jewish Agency for Israel.

In the last election, ARZA received 39 percent of the votes and 56 of the United States’ 145 delegates.

What is ARZA’s platform in the 2020 elections?

We are passionately invested in a Zionism that creates and sustains an Israel that is both Jewish and democratic and is a free society that upholds equality of religion, gender, race, and ethnicity. Read the entire text of the “Vote Reform / ARZA” slate for the World Zionist Congress elections on ARZA’s website.

I voted in the 2015 Elections. What have we accomplished since then?  

Due to our success in previous elections:

  • Through the force of our delegation we were able to ensure that over $4,000,000 a year ($20 million over five years) of financial support goes to our movement in Israel.
  • We have appointed key professionals to carry out our Reform Jewish values within the Israeli National Institutions that help implement Reform values (equality, pluralism, commitment to a two-state solution).
  • We have joined with Israeli political parties to influence Israeli society in matters of conversion, marriage and divorce, religious pluralism, gender rights, and combatting racism.
  • We have passed key resolutions in the World Zionist Organization’s policy body for equality, transparency, and pluralism.

How do I vote? 

Voting takes place January 21, 2020 – March 11, 2020. All voting will be online and accessible by mobile devices. It is a simple process and should take 60-90 seconds.

Who is eligible to vote? 

In order to vote, one needs to be:

  • 18 years of age and older
  • Self-identified as Jewish
  • Agree to The Jerusalem Program
  • Agree to a minimal processing fee

Why do I have to pay to vote? 

The minimal fee is to cover the administrative cost of the elections. This is not a charitable donation and does not support any individual organization.

Do I have to be a member of an organization or congregation to vote? 

No.  You need only to fulfill the aforementioned criteria.

Can I vote more than once? 

No. One person, one vote.

Learn more about the “Vote Reform / ARZA” slate and the World Zionist Congress elections by visiting arza.org.

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