MERCAZ USA New Year's E-Letter for 5771

MERCAZ USA

December 2010 MERCAZ USA End of the Year E-Letter Tevet 5771

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
for common questions and answers.
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.

HEALING ISRAEL AFTER THE FIRES ON MT. CARMEL
We are all saddened by the tragic loss of life and property in the recent fires on Mt. Carmel. Now comes the time to meet the immediate relief needs while starting the work of cleaning up and replanting.
Click here for the joint Conservative/Masorti Movement Fire Emergency Fund. Click here for the Jewish National Fund's campaign to replant Mt. Carmel and purchase supplies for Israel's Firefighters. Click here for the World Zionist Organization's Carmel Fire Relief.


CONCERN ABOUT LINKING SEPARATE CONVERSION BILLS
While the Conservative and Reform Movements wait to see if a compromise can be crafted by Natan Sharansky and his committee regarding the conversion bill authored by MK David Rotem that Prime Minister Netanyahu pulled back from a Knesset vote earlier this year in response to the overwhelming opposition of North American Jewry to the law's details, a new conversion battle regarding the legitimacy and recognition of conversions performed by the rabbis of the Israel Defense Forces is now taking place. Once again, MK David Rotem has introduced legislation, this time to separate the IDF conversion process from the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate. The Conservative/Masorti Movement supports this new bill (Rotem II) but is concerned after receiving credible reports that the Israeli government will seek to "sell" acceptance of the new bill to the Orthodox parties by linking it with the earlier bill (Rotem I) and presenting both laws as a package deal.

Click here to read the joint letter of concern just issued by the Conservative and Reform Movements to Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding this possible linkage. Click here to see the connection between MERCAZ USA membership and securing a positive compromise on the Rotem I conversion bill.


WHAT OUR CONSERVATIVE OLIM ARE THINKING
As has been reported in the MERCAZ newsletters over the last few years, including this past Spring, Conservative Jews continue to keep pace with the rising numbers of American olim to Israel. In 2009, of the nearly 4,000 American olim, more than 500 declared their affiliation with, or childhood connection to, the Conservative Movement and this same percentage continues in 2010.

Now, the Jewish Agency has put together a film featuring recent Conservative olim speaking about their new lives in Israel. Click here to hear what they are thinking. Click here for information about the Jewish Agency's efforts to facilitate the absorption of Conservative olim.


FEATURE STORY
MEET JANET TOBIN, MERCAZ USA'S NEW PRESIDENT

On Sunday, December 12th, at the MERCAZ biennial General Council, Janet Tobin was elected the organization's ninth president, succeeding Dr. Stephen S. Wolnek who headed MERCAZ from 2006 to 2010. Janet, a former president of Women's League for Conservative Judaism, has most recently served as Senior Vice President of the World Council of Conservative Synagogues/Masorti Olami and Co-President, along with her husband Irwin, of American Friends of Neve Hanna, a premiere children's village in Kiryat Gat.

Click here for Janet Tobin's complete biography.

Click here for a complete list of the newly elected MERCAZ officers.

We wish Janet and her leadership team "behatslacha" over the next term. Click here if you would like to send Janet your own message of support.

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