The World Zionist Congress in October (October 2020/5781 KOL Article)

The World Zionist Congress in October

Last winter, before the pandemic began, Jews around the world had the opportunity to elect delegates to the 2020 World Zionist Congress.  Our Reform Movement dedicated time and resources to encourage all Reform Jews over the age of 18 to vote, as representation at the WZC (held every five years in Jerusalem) determines a great deal in Israel from financial allocations to positions in the Jewish Agency that can affect Israeli policy.

As chair of our Reform Movement’s IRZC (Israel and Reform Zionist Committee), the group that now runs ARZA, my husband, Gary, wrote and spoke around the country about the importance of this fall’s meeting.  Although we didn’t get as many votes as we could have from our members, Reform is still the largest delegation of American Jews to the WZC and with our coalition partners from around the world make up close to half of this year’s Congress.  This year’s session will take place virtually, from October 20-22.  Gary is a delegate and I am an alternate.

The conveners of the Congress have hopes of gathering everyone in person next year, God-willing.  For now, at this critical time, we will have a global meeting.  For us, out in Los Angeles, that will mean attending full Congress sessions from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., and other meetings before and after.  It is the one institution in all of world Jewry where Jews of all beliefs and ages are gathered together to make decisions TOGETHER for the Jewish people.

As a lifelong Zionist, I am honored to be able to represent the Reform Movement and to be a part of an event that has been going on since the days of Theodor Herzl, who gathered the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in 1897.  It reinforces the power we have as a people when we put differences aside for the good of all of us and for the dream of a pluralistic, democratic Israel.

As many around the world explore what it means to recognize Israel as a political and economic entity and Jewish State, October is a month that asks all Jews to recommit to the Zionist ideal, wherever we may live or pray.  For me, that ideal is a nation founded on the Torah’s Jewish values, embracing democracy and religious freedom for all people, a safe haven for Jews.

When Gary and I gather with our fellow delegates and alternates, first and foremost, we are representing our TBS family.  For as Israel is always in our hearts, so are you.