MERCAZ USA - The Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement - Purim Adar I 5771/March 2011 E-letter
MERCAZ USA

March 2011 MERCAZ USA Purim E-Letter Adar I 5771

WELCOME to the new MERCAZ USA New Year's E-Letter being sent to MERCAZ members and supporters. Information to Unsubscribe is available below.

MERCAZ USA is the Zionist membership organization of the Conservative Movement, the voice of Conservative Jewry within the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Zionist Movement and the Jewish National Fund to support religious pluralism in Israel and strengthen the connection between Israel and the Diaspora. Click here for our new MERCAZ Mission Statement. Click here to (re)join for the current 2010-2011 fiscal year.

IN THIS ISSUE:
NEWS
FEATURE STORY

NEWS

SYNAGOGUE TRIPS TO ISRAEL
Looking to join an organized trip to Israel? Click here for a list of upcoming Conservative Movement synagogue trips for 2011.

MERCAZ-AZM PURIM CONNECTION
This year, the annual Purim Connection, organized by the American Zionist Movement and its affiliates including MERCAZ USA, seeks to bring "light and gladness" to the Lone Soldiers associated with the Moreshet Yisrael IDF Program and the children of the Neve Hanna Village. Click here to make your donation. Remember that donations need to be received by March 15. Please don't delay!

CONSERVATIVE MOVEMENT THANKS PRESIDENT OBAMA FOR U.N. VETO
The Conservative Movement expresses its appreciation to President Obama for instructing America's UN representative, Dr. Susan Rice, to veto the UN Security Council resolution that had been introduced to condemn Israel over settlement activity. Click here to read the Movement statement that MERCAZ USA had authored.

ANOTHER SIX MONTH FREEZE FOR CONTROVERSIAL CONVERSION BILL
With the end looming of the first six month freeze on the advancement of the controversial Conversion Bill, introduced last year by MK David Rotem, Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to extend the freeze until July 2011 in order to give the committee headed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky a longer mandate to work out a compromise solution acceptable to all. Click here for a statement from United Synagogue heads Richard Skolnik and Rabbi Steven Wernick. Click here for background information.

CHILEAN SYNAGOGUE RE-OPENS AFTER MASSIVE EARTHQUAKE
After many months of fundraising, planning and building, the repair work has finished at the Masorti congregation in Conception that was badly damaged in last year's massive Chilean earthquake. Click here to read about the renovation work to the synagogue building.

EDUCATION MINISTRY IMPLEMENTS TALI CURRICULUM
With the start of the current 2010-2011 academic year, Israeli secular public schools are now mandated to begin implementing a new curriculum in "Tarbut Yisrael" ("Jewish Culture") that was developed by the TALI Education Fund, which is housed at the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem. As Dr. Eitan Chikli, TALI Director General noted, "Since TALI is the largest and most experienced provider of Jewish education in the public schools, the Ministry of Education has turned to TALI for assistance in the development of educational materials and to conduct teacher training for the "Tarbut Yisrael" project." Click here for more information about the TALI Education Fund.

MASORTI MOVEMENT PROTESTS DISCRIMINATORY WELFARE POLICIES
In a creative counter to the Israeli government's decision to continue stipends for full-time yeshiva students, the Masorti Movement developed a "Yellow Pages" poster campaign listing learned rabbis from the past according to their occupation, such as Rashi the vintner and Maimonides the physician, under the heading "Torah that is not accompanied by a worthy trade will in the end amount to nothing and will lead one into sin." Click here to see the posters and read more about the campaign.

FEATURE STORY
MERCAZ USA - Aliyah to Israel - Yitzhak SantisAFTER THREE DECADES OF DREAMING, ALIYAH BECOMES REALITY
Three months ago, Yitzhak Santis, the immediate past director of the Middle East Project of the Jewish Community Relations Council in the San Francisco Bay area, together with his wife and two of their daughters, made aliyah. While en route to their new home at the Masorti Movement's Kibbutz Hannaton, Santis wrote an article that appeared in JWeekly.com that covers the S.F. Jewish Bay Area about his "Zionist dream come true":

While you are reading these words, my family and I will be en route to Israel on aliyah.

A Zionist dream come true? Yes, but with our one-way El Al tickets in hand, all I can think about is the practical stuff: retrieving our nine suitcases, hoping our pets arrive safely, praying that all our paperwork is in order, getting a taxi from Ben Gurion Airport to our new home, turning on the electricity, renting a car. I even have to remember to bring at least one roll of toilet paper. I don't recall reading about that in anything Herzl wrote!

Undeniably, this is a major step for my family and me. And the closer we get to departure, the more it is on my mind.

 My wife is Israeli, so for her this is going home. One daughter is already serving in the IDF, and our youngest, age 10, is moving with us. Two other grown daughters already have their own lives – one in L.A., the other in Munich.

We are leaving beloved parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, cousins, and dear, dear friends and colleagues. This is hard. Very hard.

For over 30 years, I dreamt of this moment. Dreams are amorphous and not easy to catch, and it was simpler to grasp the immediate reality of getting a job, starting a family, embarking on a career. My "substitute" for aliyah became Israel advocacy, which took me first to the Anti-Defamation League, then to the Jewish Community Relations Council. But the dream lived on...

Click here to read the entire article.

to top of page

Your comments about the organization's activities and publications, including this E-letter, are very important. Click here to share your thoughts with MERCAZ .