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Membership Articles

A Series of MERCAZ "Minutes"


While there was Zionism and Zionist activities before Theodore Herzl, such as Leon Pinsker and the BILU Movement in the early 1880's, the formal start of a full-fledged Zionist Movement should be traced to 1896, the publication of Theodore Herzl's treatise "The Jewish State" and the convening the following year of the First Zionist Congress. It was at the Zionist Congress, held in August 1897 in Basel, Switzerland, that the Zionist Organization (later the World Zionist Organization) was established. Commenting on the founding of the WZO as the legal body charged with creating a Jewish state, Theodore Herzl later wrote in his diary: "If I were to sum up the Congress in a word . . . it would be this: At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today I would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it." Indeed, Herzl was prophetic because fifty years later, on November 29, 1947, the United Nations passed the Palestine Partition Plan which authorized the creation of a Jewish state, alongside an Arab state, in Palestine. Read more on Zionist Education. | Read "The Jewish State".



For the last few weeks, we've been examining how MERCAZ helps in developing Masorti congregations around the world through the power that our memberships bring within the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Where did these international Jewish institutions come from and how is it that we here in America can have any influence at all on sorts of international money matters? We should start the story more than 100 years ago, when Theodore Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in August 1897. It was the Zionist Congress that created the World Zionist Organization, so that by joining MERCAZ, we are part of a chain of Jewish political activity dating back to the end of the 19th century. Join the chain by joining MERCAZ today. Go to www.mercazusa.org/membership.html.



North America, Israel, South America and Europe – these are places that we might expect to find Conservative/Masorti congregations. But did you know that Masorti congregations now can be found in other more remote countries, such as South Africa, Australia, India and even Uganda, all the with the help of MERCAZ-initiated funding from the World Zionist Organization?! Just think about how your MERCAZ membership brings benefits to the building of a worldwide Masorti movement! Go to www.mercazusa.org/membership.html to join MERCAZ today.

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Last week, we introduced the idea that MERCAZ membership aids not only Masorti congregations in Israel but also those in other parts of the world. Just like in North America, where we have the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Masorti communities in South America have come together into a continental-wide association known as MASORTI AMLAT ("America Latinit" or in English, Latin America), while those in Europe have founded "MASORTI EUROPE". These associations are working across country lines (and in the latter, linguistic differences) to build a strong Conservative/Masorti Movement around the world. Go to www.masortiworld.org for the location of Masorti congregations worldwide and go to www.mercazusa.org/membership.html to join MERCAZ.



To date, every MERCAZ MINUTE has focused on the importance of MERCAZ membership for its impact on Israel — because MERCAZ membership translates into power at the World Zionist Congress (coming up in June, 2010), which then translates into funds for Conservative congregations in Israel (known in Israel as Masorti congregations). But did you know that MERCAZ also is an important vehicle to helping to develop Masorti communities in other parts of the world? With funding gained through the World Zionist Organization and the organizational support of our Conservative Movement partner MASORTI OLAMI/World Council of Conservative-Masorti Synagogues, a strong network of Masorti congregations exists in South America and a growing network of congregations is emerging in Europe. Go to www.masortiworld.org for more information about Masorti communities around the world and go to www.mercazusa.org/membership.html to join/rejoin MERCAZ.

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When we speak about the importance of MERCAZ membership, we make the connection between membership in MERCAZ and the strength the organization can wield in the World Zionist Organization. That strength will be put to test over the next twelve months in preparation for the 36th World Zionist Congress, slated for June 2010. Strong membership numbers in MERCAZ will translate into strength in the WZO which will translate, in turn, into funding for our Conservative/Masorti congregations in Israel, funding which is presently unavailable to them. So it's (1) you join; (2) our membership numbers in the WZO are raised; (3) the Conservative congregations in Israel receive funds via the WZO. For more info, go to www.mercazusa.org or call the MERCAZ office at 212-533-2061.



For this week, we digress from a MERCAZ MINUTE and ask you to take a MINUTE for MERCAZ. We are now very early in July, and July starts the fiscal year for MERCAZ. Please join MERCAZ now or renew your membership, as the case may be. If you go to www.mercazusa.org and scroll down the left side to "MEMBERSHIP," you will see the membership flyer. Print out any one of them and see that membership in MERCAZ is reasonable — and you already know how important it is! FYI. Here are the membership fees: $12 student over 18; $36 individual; $54 family; $100 sponsor; $250 donor; $500 benefactor. The mailing address is on the membership flyer. Or save the money for a stamp and register on-line through the secure website. For further information and/or to join or re-join MERCAZ USA, go to www.mercazusa.org/membership.html or call the MERCAZ office at 212-533-2061.

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We keep talking about membership in MERCAZ. Why is MEMBERSHIP in MERCAZ so important? Plain and simple, it comes down to money, i.e., the funding for our Conservative [i.e., Masorti ] congregations in Israel. Right now, the only religious institutions which were and still are recognized and funded by the Israeli government are Orthodox institutions. If it can grow stronger membership numbers, MERCAZ will have stronger voting clout in the World Zionist Organization, which can then translate into significant Jewish communal funding for our Conservative/Masorti congregations in Israel. More about WZO in our next MERCAZ MINUTE. To join or renew with MERCAZ, go to www.mercazusa.org/membership.html or call the MERCAZ office at 212-533-2061.



For this MERCAZ "Minute", let's explore the phrase Mercaz/Masorti, a phrase which will appear here often. First, MERCAZ is the Hebrew word for "center." An acronym for the expression "the Movement to Reaffirm Conservative Zionism", MERCAZ is an appropriate name because Zionism is central to Conservative Judaism. MASORTI is the name of the Conservative Judaism outside of North America, with the Masorti Movement in Israel and Masorti Olami in the rest of the world. Masorti comes from a Hebrew word that means "tradition" and represents a modern and non-coercive approach to traditional Jewish life. Masorti Judaism offers religious alternatives which, until recently, were missing from Israel and elsewhere. For further information and/or to join or re-join MERCAZ USA, go to www.mercazusa.org/membership.html or call the MERCAZ office at 212-533-2061.MERCAZ USA -- top of page arrow



Welcome to a MERCAZ "Minute", a small serving of information about MERCAZ USA. MERCAZ USA is the American Zionist membership organization of the Conservative Movement. It is the voice of Conservative Jewry which supports religious pluralism in Israel and strengthens the connection between Israel and us here in the Diaspora. As a membership organization, it has a membership year which ends every June 30 and starts again every July 1. If you are already a member of MERCAZ USA, look for your membership renewal letter early in July. If you are not yet a member of MERCAZ USA, look for the next MERCAZ MINUTE to learn more. Or go to www.mercazusa.org/membership.html.


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