ARZA Canada Newsletter
February 3, 2017
Upcoming Dates with Israeli Reform
Rabbi Benjie Gruber

Rabbi Benjie Gruber with Rabbi Debra Land sberg
Temple Emanu-El
Upcoming Events
Upcoming Events Israel

Join us in Jerusalem!
Discover 200 years of Zionist and Progressive milestones, while interactively exploring innovation in Progressive Jewish life and its impact on the future of Klal Yisrael, our Jewish peoplehood.

We invite you to save the date for Diaspora-Israel Day 5778 -
 October 27th 2017! 

For more information....

ARZA Canada  
As I write this, I am sitting looking up at the stunning view of the San Jacinto Mountains of the Coachella Valley in Palm Springs, California. Yesterday we went for a geology jeep tour in Joshua Tree National park by way of the back roads. As we approached the park we passed one group after another set up for a day of shooting practice with every kind of gun...and much graffiti painted on the rocks. Unexpected in a nature preserve. Our guide told us the graffiti in the nature reserve was a new phenomenon. That and the high number of shooting groups were things that he had not witnessed prior to the past six months. He is concerned. 
These are unchartered times. These are unpredictable times. These are changing times. These are times to be vigilant. These are times for you to be speaking up for Israel.
Today's world moves faster than ever before. In a digital age in which a single individual or incident can garner international headlines in minutes, it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant and strategic in identifying, exposing, and confronting those who seek to threaten the democratic character of the Jewish State.
Anat Hoffman, IRAC, has written to remind us that we need to speak up to encourage Israeli leaders to recognize Israel's formative values of equality, pluralism and tolerance. In Israel 2017 as in other democracies, these values define our moral power. 
Canada has the fourth largest Jewish population after Israel, USA, and France. Canadian Jews are known to be especially Zionistic. Let's act on that. 
What are you doing in your congregation to engage with Israel, to advocate for Israel, to celebrate Israeli accomplishments, to support progressive Judaism in Israel, and to add your voice to advocate for a democratic and Jewish State of Israel?  
As your president of ARZA Canada I am proud of the work we are doing to connect Reform Jews with Israel and to be the voice for Canadian Reform  Zionists. We have advocated for progressive Judaism rights with Israel's Consul General. We have engaged Israeli Rabbi Benjie Gruber to serve as a Scholar-in-Residence with our Reform congregations. We build meaningful relationships with Gilad Kariv and other leaders of IMPJ to partner with Israel Reform congregations and help seed new ones. 
We are working at enhancing our communications with you our ARZA Canada members. We are proud to announce the newest recipient of the ARZA Canada Michael Stroh Scholarship for study in Israel is Jared Cohen from Temple Har Zion ( Thornhill) who will be participating in the NFTY-Eisendrath Israel Experience (EIE) for high school students.  
Let us know how we can help your congregation deepen your connection with Israel. We want to have every Reform congregation represented on our ARZA Canada Board. We love hearing from you and hearing what is happening at your congregation for Israel engagement. 
May this Tu b'Shevat be a time to protect both the natural world and the free world.


President ARZA Canada  
Tu B'Shevat  
By: Rabbi Benjie Gruber

Tu B'shevat, the 15th day of the month of Shevat will soon be celebrated. The origin of this date is in the Mishna and it was described as the "New Year for the trees".

At that time this was not a day of planting trees but rather celebrating their existence and acknowledging the agricultural Jewish calendar.

Read more....

Supreme Court resists Ultra-Orthodox domination of Western Wall

While Haredi members of the Knesset try to pass a law forbidding women from reading Torah at the Kotel, thereby reversing the government's commitment to create an egalitarian prayer space, the Supreme Court has taken a stand, asking the government to justify this restriction on individual freedom. 
Read more....

You can demand equality for all streams of Judaism by sending a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu.  Click here to send your note via the URJ web site.

Meanwhile, the Times of Israel reports that awareness of Reform Judaism continues to increase and Israelis are slowly recognizing Reform as an alternative to Orthodoxy.

Read more....

A year has lapsed since the cabinet approved an historic agreement over prayer rights in the Western Wall. Has anything really happened since?

Read more.... 
The right response to UN Resolution 2234

Controversial UN Resolution 2234 was rightly criticized for denying Jewish attachment to Jerusalem and the West Bank.  But Rabbi Daniel Gordis argues that it should cause Israel to also look inward and develop a more pragmatic development strategy. In his words: What if this country trained and supported a rabbinate that was open, moderate and intellectually compelling? Can we imagine what our society might look like?

Time for a debate on settlements - where are they leading Israel?  Rabbi Donniel Hartman suggests that UN Resolution 2234 should start a debate on settlements and whether it's in Israel's interest to pursue the current government's expansion activity, which will lead to de facto annexation.
Read more....  
Dreams Deferred - a book about BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions)

This URJ book review argues that, as much as one may disagree with the policies of a particular Israeli government, BDS is a dangerous, extremist movement incompatible with peace and with a moderate, liberal view of the conflict.    
Palestinian Israelis

On one level racism in Israel seems to be increasing.  Coalition Knesset members have made disparaging comments about Israel's Arab minority, and an extremist group (Lehava) threatens violence against Arabs.   

This is certainly concerning.  But it's also true that on the ground many Arabs are becoming more open to integration into Israeli society and making progress.

Read More....

A specific example - the Technion runs a boot camp to help Arabs qualify, which has resulted in tripling Arab enrollment to this prestigious university.

Read more....

And on the topic of minorities, Israel recently appointed the first two female Ethiopian judges. 

Read more.... 
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