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VOTE REFORM –  The World Zionist Congress, an imperative and a privilege

01/22/2020 01:18:14 PM


Dr. William Korn, Chair, Temple Shalom Israel Engagement Task


By coincidence, I just happened across these interesting receipt-like documents in my father’s old papers just as we are ramping up our World Zionist Organization voting drive. Until now, I didn’t, really know what they were, but suddenly I had an “aha” moment, recognizing that these shekels, the one shown here dating 1946, are evidence of dad’s participation in the WZO just prior to the founding of the modern state of Israel.

Just before the second World Zionist Congress in 1898, it was decided that any Jew 18 or over who paid the nominal dues and obtained this shekel could vote for delegates. I am excited to carry out this tradition. My father imbued in me a deep connection with the land of Israel. He wrote his doctoral thesis about the developing economy of Israel while a refugee in American-occupied Germany. Although he didn’t emigrate to Israel, he kept in touch faithfully with his friends there, followed every bit of news from Israel and was ever a committed supporter of his brother and sister chalutzim (pioneers). 
Which brings me back today. The aftermath of the Holocaust changed world Jewry from being Eurocentric to being eventually roughly split between America and Israel. As Daniel Gordis writes in his recent book, We Stand Divided, Jews in America and those in Israel a strongly need one another to maintain a robust Jewish community that will thrive and survive into the future, but we often see things from very different perspectives. We need to learn from one another and to hear one other’s opinions and ideas.  
The reasons to vote for Reform representation in the WZO are no less compelling now than they were prior to Israel’s founding. Voting Reform ensures that there will be WZO delegates that represent the Reform movement. Delegates make decisions about the allocation of WZO funding, which helps sustain Reform synagogues and Reform Israeli Rabbis, who offer a way to practice an egalitarian and relevant Judaism that is deeply needed in Israel today. What better way to do this than to have our voices heard through representation in the Zionist Congress?  

So, vote the Reform slate in the WZO elections. My dad would be proud of you. You won’t get a sticker. But maybe a shekel?

(Temple Shalom will have staff to assist you in voting on Sunday mornings in January, February and early March. One needs only to pay the small fee online and vote using a mobile device. During the process, you will be asked to pledge agreement to the basic principles of the WZO, called the Jerusalem Program. The link to VOTE REFORM along with other information about WZO elections can be found here. Thank you in advance for devoting a few moments to supporting our Israeli Reform friends and family. If you have questions, please contact Scott Birnbaum, Temple Shalom’s WZO election representative.)

Wed, August 12 2020 22 Av 5780