Rabbi Alan Silverstein Meets MK Yair Lapid

"Just as  MK Yair Lapid , of Yesh Atid, forged an emerging coalition relationship with Dr. Stephen Wolnek z"l, MK Lapid recently met in Manhattan with the new President of MERCAZ Olami,
Rabbi Alan Silverstein. On behalf of more than 1.8 million self-identifying Conservative/Masorti Jews worldwide, Rabbi Silverstein expressed gratitude to MK Lapid for his Knesset speech in defense of both Conservative and Reform Jewry. MK Lapid responded by voicing his awareness that some influential Democratic Party affiliated Conservative Jews are potential allies in his quest to heal the breach between sectors among the Democrats and the Jewish State." 

The Role of MERCAZ Olami in Affecting Change in Israel

"If we want to be part of the Zionist dream, we need to roll up our sleeves and participate in the political game!" This was the message of MERCAZ Olami Executive Director, 
Rabbi Tzvi Graetz to the MERCAZ Canada Annual General Meeting in May. He asserted the necessity for the presence and strength of MERCAZ, as the political organization of the Zionist
organization of the world Conservative/ Masorti Movement, in influencing politics, institutions and society in Israel. Rabbi David Golinkin  , President of the Schechter Institutes in Jerusalem, also addressed the meeting. Rabbi Golinkin feels the core issue is that secular Israelis do not feel connected to any kind of Judaism. In the effort to change that, the Schechter Institutes offer a variety of educational programs, from pre-school to master's degrees to rabbinical ordinations. He feels that by reaching out to the individual, this is the first step in establishing a relationship with Judaism and understanding that there is more than one way to be Jewish.

Click here  to read an article in the Canadian Jewish News and  click here  to view the gallery of pictures from the meeting.

Rabbi Philip Scheim , President of the Rabbinical Assembly; Rabbi David Golinkin, President of the Schechter Institutes, Marion Mayman, outgoing president of MERCAZ Canada, David Sefton, President of MERCAZ Canada 
and Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, Executive Director of MERCAZ Olami.

In May, MERCAZ Canada and MERCAZ USA hailed new leadership.

Dr. Marilyn Wind was installed as President of MERCAZ USA. On behalf of MERCAZ Olami, Rabbi Alan Silverstein, President of MERCAZ Olami, offered congratulations to Marilyn and gratitude to Janet Tobin and Rabbi Robert Golub, for their dedication and steadfastness in lobbying for Israel on behalf of worldwide Conservative/Masorti Jewry.

Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, Executive Director of MERCAZ Olami, 
honored Marion Mayman, the outgoing president of MERCAZ
Canada, for her commitment 
and leadership to advancing the goals of MERCAZ Olami and Masorti Olami.  Rabbi Graetz applauded  David  S efton  on  his new position as President of MERCA Z Canada. 

B'hatzlacha to Marilyn and David. 

Camp Ramah NOAM Gains a Permanent Home 
in the Hannaton Forest 

This year's Camp Ramah NOAM will, for the first time, take place in their new permanent home in the Hannaton Forest. This is an historic accomplishment for the Conservative/Masorti Movement, which was achieved through the hard work of Professor Alon Tal, Rabbi Yoav Ende and Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, our representatives in the Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael - Jewish National Fund. KKL-JNF is committed to building the infrastructure of the camp. MERCAZ Olami is grateful to KKL-JNF Chairman Danny Atar for his support.

Click here to read more.
Rabbi Graetz at the Rabbinical Assembly

In May,  Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, Executive Director of MERCAZ Olami, addressed the  Rabbinical Assembly in New York. His speech stressed the importance of becoming more pol itically active in Israel. We must continue to uphold the classic Zionist ideal that Israel is a Jewish
Democratic State and that these two ideals do not contradict each other. Unfortunately, the politic al discourse in Israel is polarized. One side is moving toward a secular state, which would only be democratic and not distinctly Jewish. The other side is moving toward a religious state only for Jews wherein democracy is a secondary priority, resulting in a state that is not inclusive of the entire population. With this polarization, Israel is drifting from the Zionist ethos of a state, of a home, for all Jews. Rabbi Graetz emphasized that it is our duty as Masorti Jews to stand up for the Zionist ethos and work toward an inclusive Israel, which is both Jewish and democratic.
Egalitarian Mincha at the Kotel Plaza

In June and July, members of the Masorti and Reform Movements, the NOAM youth group and the Kibbutz Hannaton Mechina (pre-army study program) joined hundreds of others for a mixed men and women's minyan at the upper Kotel plaza. During their tefillot, the group was surrounded by ultra-Orthodox men who shouted, cursed and threw things at them. In one instance, an ultra-Orthodox man grabbed a siddur out of the hands of a praying boy and ripped it apart, tossing the pieces on the ground. This confrontation displayed the power play going on in the Knesset between the ultra-Orthodox parties and the Netanyahu government. Previously, the ultra-Orthodox Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, brought a gender-separate minyan into the pluralistic prayer section at Robinson's Arch. The ultra-Orthodox parties have proposed legislation to the government and are stalling the implementation of the government decision made in January to allow a pluralistic prayer space at the Kotel. 

MERCAZ Olami in Caldwell, NJ

Congregation Agudath Israel in Caldwell, NJ and their rabbi, Rabbi Alan Silverstein, are long-time supporters of MERCAZ Olami and Masorti Olami. In May, they hosted Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, Executive Director of MERCAZ Olami, who spoke about MERCAZ Olami and its crucial role in the worldwide Masorti Movement. On Shabbat evening, Rabbi Graetz called on the community to be active in MERCAZ Olami as each person affects our voice in the National Zionist institutions and the larger political landscape in Israel. The community reaction was impressive, with a dynamic question and answer session demonstrating the motivation within the community and the understanding of the centrality of MERCAZ Olami to the growth and impact of the worldwide Conservative/Masorti Movement.

Over Shabbat lunch, Rabbi Graetz discussed the challenges of religious pluralism in Israel. For example, since 2010, the Masorti Movement has been fighting in the courts and in the government for the right to use public mikvaot for its conversions. In February 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that public mikvaot be available for Conservative and Reform conversions. Almost immediately, the ultra-Orthodox proposed a bill to the Knesset that would prohibit use of the public mikvaot for the Conservative and Reform Movements and require women to immerse under the supervision of an attendant, who would ensure that the immersion is conducted according to Orthodox Jewish law. Rabbi Graetz underscored that while this, and many similar issues, are being played out in Israel, Diaspora Jewry can and must be involved in changing such political polices.  Joining MERCAZ Olami gives the worldwide Conservative/Masorti Movement additional strength.

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MERCAZ Olami | Tel: 972 2 624 7106 | MERCAZ@masortiolami.org | www.mercaz.masortiolami.org

The activities of Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami are implemented in partnership with the World Zionist Organization
World Zionist Organization