Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Most Important Election That You’ve Never Heard Of

The Zionist Congress was established in 1897 by Theodor Herzl as the supreme organ of the Zionist Organization (ZO) and its legislative authority. You would think that once the State of Israel was established, the World Zionist Congress would cease to function. However that is not the case. For according to Zionist ideology, the State of Israel is the nation state for all Jews, even those who currently do not live within its borders. Most decisions related to the governance of the state are decided exclusively by Israeli citizens. However there still remain areas in which Zionists from around the world are invited to have a say. That forum is the World Zionist Congress, which continues to meet every 5 years. The Zionist Congress is the supreme ideological and policy-making body of the World Zionist Organization. This gathering represents the entire political and religious spectrum of the Zionist movement.

Those elected from the United States will join delegates from Israel and around the world at the 38th World Zionist Congress in October 2020, the international “parliament of the Jewish people”, to make decisions regarding key institutions which allocate nearly $1 Billion annually to support Israel and World Jewry (including the World Zionist Organization, Keren Kayemet LeYisrael – Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency for Israel).

I am proud to have been a delegate to the 37th Zionist Congress in Jerusalem five years ago from the “Vote Torah” slate. This time I am proud to be an ambassador for the Orthodox Israel Coalition (Slate #4) along with our members Trudy Abramson and Lisa Baratz, who are also slate ambassadors. Our slate brings together the major Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist Organizations in the US including: Religious Zionists of America‒Mizrachi, AMIT, Orthodox Union, Yeshiva University, Touro College, Rabbinical Council of America, National Council of Young Israel, Torah MiTzion, Bnei Akiva.

The “Core Four” principles of the OIC slate are:
1)      Expand security funding and provisions to protect Jewish life at US synagogues, yeshiva day schools and Jewish community centers.
2)      Combat BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) and antisemitism with programs that empower our students on college campuses across the US.
3)      Proliferate continued Jewish growth in the Golan Heights, Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
4)      Fight for funding to perpetuate Torah values that enables more of our children to study in gap year yeshiva/seminary programs and expands the global network of shlichim.
Funding priorities within the WZO’s $1 billion budget are determined by the delegates at the World Zionist Congress.  The more votes OIC receives the stronger our voice will be concerning issues related to Israel and our relationship to Israel.

One example of the impact of this election is the MASA subsidy program for American students studying on gap year programs in Israel. Weak voter turnout in the last election resulted in this funding decreasing dramatically from $1000 to $200. By voting for OIC you help us advocate for greater MASA subsidies for our children who study in Israel.

This Shabbat we welcome the “Bnei Akiva Dream Team”, a group of shalichim who have volunteered to travel across the US to inform and educate about these elections, and encourage voting for the OIC slate. Please welcome them to Hollywood and ask them any questions you might have. They will be with us over Shabbat as well as Saturday night at Panoply, Sunday morning at minyanim and Sunday evening at the Super Bowl party.

Voting for the 38th Zionist Congress is open now through March 11. All American Jews over the age of 18 are eligible to vote. The easiest way to vote is online by using our shul’s personalized link
I urge you to exercise your right to vote and enable our Religious Zionist voice to be felt in these elections.

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