September 2014 Happy New Year's E-Letter Elul 5774 

WELCOME to the new MERCAZ USA 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 to see the MERCAZ Mission Statement. Click here to (re)join for the current 2013-2014 fiscal year.

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 2014-2015.

ISRAEL ADVOCACY TRAINING SEMINARS CONTINUING
The next MERCAZ Israel Advocacy Conference in its 1-day format will be taking place Sunday, October 26, at Temple Israel of Great Neck, in Long Island, NY. The conference is being run in conjunction with the NY Metro Region of the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs and the BQLI Region of Women's League for Conservative Judaism. A similar conference is planned for New England next March. For information and registration contact Vivian Leber, BQLI President bqlivivian@aol.com or Mike Harrison, FJMC NY Metro mhvariety@Verizon.net.

ORDER YOUR MASORTI EGALITARIAN SIMCHAT TORAH FLAGS
Liven up your Simchat Torah celebration with specially designed flags for Masorti communities around the world! Click here for more information or email flags@masortiolami.org. The deadline for ordering flags is Wednesday, September 10th, 2014.

THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN JEWISH LAW
Rabbi David Golinkin, President and Professor of Jewish Law at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, has just published a new work on "The Status of Women in Jewish Law Responsa."  The book is dedicated to the study of the halakhic status of women in the synagogue and in public life.  Published by Gefen Publishing House, the book is available from Amazon.com and from the publisher.

KIBBUTZ HANNATON GRADUATES SECOND MECHINA CLASS [HANNATON, NOT HANNATON'S]
Just before the outbreak of Operation "Protective Edge", the second pre-army "Mechina" class at the Masorti Movement's Kibbutz Hannaton ended its 10-month study program.  The yearlong program, as Director Itai Capsouto notes, gives those Israeli young adults awaiting their military service "a year of giving, work, together and learning". Click here for more information about Hannaton's Mechina program.

RAMAH STANDS WITH ISRAEL
While experiencing Israel during wartime was not on the schedule of this year's Ramah Israel Seminar, Operation Protective Edge did become a reality for the 250 participants in the program.  Yet, as Director Rabbi Mitchell Cohen notes, "While they [were] aware of the fear and suffering nearby, they [did] not feel it where they were located and [were] able to follow almost the entire itinerary with just minor changes.  Not a single Seminar participant [chose] to go home, and the overwhelming majority of parents [were] extremely supportive."  Click here for more information about Ramah's Israel Programs.

FEATURE STORY

WHY MERCAZ MEMBERSHIP – TWO BANGS FROM THE SAME BUCK!

Supporters of Conservative/Masorti Judaism know only too well, that we receive little to no funding from the tax receipts of Israeli citizens.  Therefore finding alternative revenue streams to fund our growing movement is truly imperative.  Becoming a MERCAZ member is an important way to help drive funds to our movement's institutions.  As the Zionist arm of the Conservative Movement, MERCAZ represents our interests in the World Zionist Organization [WZO], the Jewish Agency for Israel [JAFI] and the Jewish National Fund [JNF], the international bodies which serve as the parliament for Jews around the world, no matter what their "stream" [denomination].

These organizations collectively allocate over $2 million in direct grants to our Conservative stream, funding such important Israeli institutions as the Masorti Movement, the Schechter Institute and TALI Schools, the Fuchsberg Center in Jerusalem as well as Masorti congregations throughout South America, Europe and the Former Soviet Union.

When MERCAZ lobbies these organizations on our behalf, they request allocations for funding from these Jewish communal institutions, effectively creating "two bangs from the same buck" - because coming from "general" community funds,  these allocations do not require any additional or special fundraising efforts.

Unfortunately, there are increasing numbers of groups seeking Jewish communal funding and therefore these funds are in danger of disappearing.  Our ability to access WZO and JAFI funds depends on our organization's strength, as measured in membership and voting.  But you can save the day!  By becoming a MERCAZ USA member, you can increase our influence over WZO and JAFI and the proportional allocation of funds received by our movement.  To become a member and maintain Masorti Judaism's funding, visit www.MERCAZUSA.org or contact 212-533-2061 / info@mercazusa.org.