Masorti Olami & MERCAZ Olami Update

Av 5777/ August 2017
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Personal Reflection from the Executive Director
Click for SpanishFrench & Russian Translations.
Thank you to Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami for choosing me to serve as the new Executive Director of our two organizations, which are so central to the work of Masorti/Conservative Judaism around the world.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my predecessors. Firstly, Rabbi Joe Wernik who founded and directed Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami for the first 10 years, and successfully fulfilled the vision he had for the two organizations. 
Secondly, to Rabbi Tzvi Graetz who succeeded in increasing both the Masorti/ Conservative and MERCAZ presence around the world and broadened the horizons of our organizations.
I am a man of actions, not a man of words. I start my new position with a strong desire to focus on our mission and to lead and build a strong worldwide movement. I would like to share with you a part of the mission statement that I submitted to the search committee with my application for the position of Executive Director:
"The Jewish world is changing rapidly; our movement is undergoing an identity crisis. There is the emergence of moderate Orthodoxy; the Reform movement taking on more traditional attitudes; Chabad and their outreach and presence around the world, along with many Jews becoming more and more indifferent to their Judaism, their connection to Israel and to the Masorti Movement.
Within this context, Masorti Olami has an essential role to play in developing the tools to reach out to today's Jews in a new and different language, which will encourage them to recognize, understand and identify with our unique approach to Judaism.
I believe in working together with our institutions and in creating partnerships that will allow us to further develop the Movement with greater passion and depth.  The synergy that these partnerships will yield will become a wind of change within the Masorti projects. We need to create joint programs with rabbinical schools as well as the Rabbinical Assembly, and to make use of the local resources we have at our fingertips. The competition and discord between organizations is a symptom of the crisis that our movement is undergoing.
We must work hard to continue to develop our ideology. We have been a movement of ideological vanguard and there is no doubt that we had an influence on the Jewish People. We need to convene Rabbis and thinkers to continue the ideological development of our movement.
It is essential that we create a Masorti resource library, where educational and ideological materials with a clear Masorti trademark can be accessed and developed, serving Masorti congregations worldwide. We must use social media efficiently and develop more online materials to serve Masorti Jews all over the world.
The world and its changing contexts require the development of new strategies for Masorti and MERCAZ Olami, together with the local congregations. Nowadays, changes occur rapidly, and we must be ready to adapt to changing circumstances and to support our congregations in a creative way. "
In the Mishnah, Avot chapter 2:15 Rabbi Tarfon says, "The day is short, the work is great ...". We have a lot to do, and I cannot lead change alone. I invite every one of you to partner with us in this process of renewal. Please be in touch, volunteer, donate, and shar e your ideas.
Together we can build a stronger movement.
I look forward to working with all of you as I embark on this new and exciting chapter.  
Rabbi Mauricio Balter
Executive Director,  Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami
Masorti Olami - Towards the Future
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Masorti Olami is delighted to welcome Rabbi Mauricio Balter as our new Executive Director.

Building on Rabbi Balter's fresh approach and vision and his extensive experience as a community Rabbi within the wider world of Masorti communities, we can be confident that we will be able to continue to advance our mission, which over the past several years has built, developed and strengthened new and existing communities and has led to an increasing presence and recognition of the Masorti Movement around the world. 

Masorti Olami will continue to invest in the future of our Movement, encouraging the participation and enthusiasm of our youth through extending the reach of NOAM Olami into those communities where it does not yet exist. We will continue to work also with Marom Olami to ensure that our young people have an ongoing involvement with our Movement.
Rabbi Balter, with the help of a strong Executive and Board, will lead the implementation of the priorities outlined in our 2016 Strategic Plan to ensure that these are realised and developed over the next 5-years. 
Our committed Lay Leadership will play a full role in the advancing the interests and principles of Masorti Judaism and work with all the arms of the Masorti/Conservative movement.
Rabbi Balter's knowledge and experience will enable us to grow stronger and to deepen further the connection with the over 120 communities affiliated with Masorti Olami worldwide.
Gillian Caplin
President,  Masorti Olami
MERCAZ Olami - A New Beginning
Click for  Spanish French & Russian Translations .
MERCAZ Olami is proud to be building upon the foundations established in recent years by the skilled service of Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, Rabbi Joseph Wernik and Dr. David Breakstone as Executive Directors, and of Dr. Stephen Wolnek z"l, Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, and Roy Clemens z"l as Presidents.

New Team
Our new Team is led capably by Rabbi Mauricio Balter as Executive Director, as well as by the following officers - Rabbi Alan Silverstein [President], Emily Levy-Shochat [Treasurer], 

Rabbi Phil Scheim [Secretary], Sophie Fellman Rafalovitz [VP - NOAM Olami], Leandro Galanternik [VP - Marom], Dr. Marilyn Wind [VP - USA], Marion Mayman [VP-Canada], John Furstenberg [VP - Australia], Miguel Harf [VP- Israel], Veronica Kennard [VP - Europe], Rabbi Ari Sigal [VP - Latin America], Gillian Caplin [Ex Officio].

Representation within the National Institutions of The Jewish People
MERCAZ works via our TRIO within the World Zionist Organization [WZO] "Hanhala" [leadership] led by Mauricio Balter, and including David Breakstone and Yizhar Hess. The TRIO operate in consultation with Alan Silverstein [MERCAZ Olami President] and Gillian Caplin [Masorti Olami President]. Our Movement fills 2 dozen "spots" at the "tables" of the WZO, Keren Kayemet L'Yisrael [KKL], Keren Hayesod and the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency. Our representatives to KKL are Mauricio Balter [Lead Representative], Yoav Ende and David Breakstone. Yizhar Hess represents our Movement in Keren Hayesod. David Breakstone is the Deputy Chairman of the Jewish Agency.
Monetary Successes
MERCAZ is the on-going conduit for more than $1 million per year in "Religious Stream" allocations for Masorti programs inside Israel via the Jewish Agency and WZO.
MERCAZ successfully worked to increase KKL funding to nearly $800,000 annually. This funding is being allocated in varying amounts to Masorti Olami, Masorti Israel, NOAM Olami, NOAM Israel, Conservative Yeshiva, USY, Marom Olami, rabbinical schools of Schechter Institute, JTS, Ziegler, Frankel, Seminario Rabinico, as well as to Kibbutz Hannaton.
Additional KKL money has assisted a variety of other parts of our World Movement. A Strategic Allocation Committee is in the process of being formed in order to best distribute future funds. Working together with Masorti Olami, MERCAZ Olami has succeeded in obtaining more than $750,000 in annual funding from the WZO.
New Committees
MERCAZ is creating several key committees.
First, a Strategy Committee to create Strategic Plan for moving forward, for updating the By-Laws and Mission Statement.
Second, a Finance Committee to assess the best manner in which to allocate funds to promote Zionism [in its broadest manifestation] among our 800 Conservative/Masorti kehillot throughout the world.
Third, an Education and Communication Committee to keep in close contact the MERCAZ chapters in each of 15 countries.
New Initiatives
MERCAZ will be working with Marom Olami in spreading Marom to North America, to engage ages 18-30. To achieve this goal, MERCAZ will seek to help Marom coordinate with MERCAZ USA, Reshet [Camp] Ramah, USY alumni, alumni of Solomon Schechter Day Schools and of JTS and Ziegler.
MERCAZ will facilitate all arms of the World Movement in commencing early preparation for the next WZO elections [probably in the fall of 2020]
MERCAZ will evaluate and distribute to MERCAZ chapters Zionist educational materials produced by the different departments of the National Institutions
MERCAZ will identify key MERCAZ "activists" in each of the 15 countries, to be trained for upgrading local MERCAZ chapters.
We eagerly look forward to watching the impact of the inspire leadership of Rabbi Balter and the new MERCAZ Olami leadership team
Shana tova,

Rabbi Alan Silverstein, Ph.D.
President, MERCAZ Olami