In Three Minutes You Can Effect Change For Israel
By Rabbi Vernon Kurtz
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the JUF-JF Board meeting in Chicago, discussing the importance of the current Israel vote; not the recent Israeli elections in Israel, but the most important Israel vote that we in the Diaspora can participate in, the World Zionist Congress (WZC) vote – happening now.
Being president of the American Zionist Movement, (AZM) I understand how Zionism has different meanings and emotions depending on one’s relationship with Israel. However, I cannot stress enough, as Jewish Americans, regardless of our definition, it is our right and opportunity to vote on behalf of Israel. The more votes America has, the stronger our voice can be heard for Israel and for Zionism.
Why is voting so critical this year? With the State of Israel besieged on many sides, with the current state of relationships between the State of Israel and the United States administration, with the concern of the general public whether we still care about the State of Israel and its survival, here’s our opportunity to take a stand.
The Zionist elections allow us to voice our opinions on many issues. From the left to the right politically, from the right to the left religiously, including all religious streams and political points of view, there is surely one of the ten slates for everyone. Votes matter.
As the media and political pundits analyze the strength of the philanthropic dollars to Israel as a measure of support by American Jews of their brothers and sisters of Israel, they will do the same as they analyze the number of voters who take the opportunity to express their democratic privilege in these elections. Whatever slate meets your religious, political or cultural needs, I encourage you to take this opportunity and make a stand on behalf of the State of Israel and its centrality to American Jewish life.
The WZC is the outstretched arm and the supreme organ of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), where once the main goal was to establish a legally assured home in the land of Israel for the Jewish people, now the issues are embedded in the Jerusalem Program* (see below) which focuses on matters of: unity of the Jewish people and the connection to Israel, fighting anti-Semitism, creating a democratic and multifaceted state according to the vision of the prophets, education and more.
Israel needs the Diaspora more than ever before and the Diaspora needs Israel. It is a partnership we cannot negate and must value for now and future generations.
This vote is our opportunity to join the conversation and participate in the global Jewish voting process.
The choice of what organization you will vote for is, of course, entirely up to you. What’s important is the act of voting itself.
Voting ends April 30, 2015. I encourage you to take three minutes, raise your voice for Israel, join in the conversation and help make a difference in shaping Israel’s future.
President Rabbi Vernon Kurtz is the Rabbi of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois. He has authored teshuvot for the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly. Currently, he is a monthly Torah commentator for the Chicago Jewish News and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
• Unity of the Jewish people and the connection to Israel
• A democratic and multifaceted state according to the vision of the prophets
• Aliyah and settlement in Israel
• The centrality of Israel to the Jewish world
• Dissemination of Jewish culture and education
• Hebrew language
• Fighting anti-Semitism