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We Jews love anniversaries. Last year, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of Tel Aviv, the first city of the modern Zionist movement. The year before, in 2008, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel. And this year, 2010, is itself an "anniversary" year as we mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Theodore Herzl, the founder of the modern Zionist movement.

It was Herzl who convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, in August, 1897. Fifty years (and a couple of months) later, the UN General Assembly approved the Partition Plan for Palestine, thereby endorsing the creation of the Jewish State, and we, today are the beneficiaries of these acts.

But while the Jewish State is a blessed reality, the mission of Zionism has not been completed. As long as there are Jews in need, as long as Israel is not secure, as long as the ideal Jewish society within the Jewish state has not been achieved, the Zionist movement will continue with purpose.

In just a couple of months, the 36th World Zionist Congress, the heir of Herzl's first congress, will convene in Jerusalem. And seated in the assembly hall, among the 550 elected delegates from Israel and the Diaspora, will be nearly 60 delegates representing the worldwide Conservative/Masorti Movement under the "MERCAZ" banner.

The Conservative Movement, through MERCAZ USA, is a full partner in the WZO and Jewish Agency. Our delegates to the Zionist Congress will be working to push forward our agenda: to shape the nature of Israeli society with the values of religious pluralism and environmental awareness and to gain important resources for the development of institutions of Conservative-Masorti Judaism in Israel and throughout the world, including the Schechter Institute, the Masorti Movement and the Conservative Yeshiva.

But the work of MERCAZ USA doesn't end with the Zionist Congress. Upon our return from Israel, our thoughts will turn again to our ongoing work to strengthen the connection between the Diaspora and Israel. How do we infuse Israel more strongly into the life of our congregations? How do we get more of our children to spend time in the Jewish State? How do we promote the Hebrew language? These are among the goals of this organization for the past 30 years ago and they will continue to guide our work long into the future. (for details about our program, visit our website, www.mercazusa.org)

BE A PART OF THAT FUTURE! A strong MERCAZ USA helps ensure success of a vibrant Masorti Movement in Israel and throughout the world and a strong Zionist connection in our American Jewish community. Your membership brings this goal closer to reality. Join MERCAZ USA, the Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement.

For more information about membership, contact the MERCAZ office at info@mercauzsa.org or 212-533-2061 or visit our secure website www.mercazusa.org.


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