Winter 2000-2001

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MERCAZ USA Newsletter — Winter 2000-2001

Elections Are Coming! Elections Are Coming

The 2002 Zionist Congress Election Campaign Has Begun

"Elections Are Coming; Elections Are Coming!" With these words, MERCAZ USA has launched its electoral campaign for the upcoming Zionist Congress elections, which will be held over the next 12-14 months in advance of the 34th World Zionist Congress of June 2002.

Earlier this fall, the American Zionist Movement, the local representative of the World Zionist Organization, voted unanimously to organize national elections in order to select the 145 U.S. delegates to the 2002 World Zionist Congress. As in the last Zionist Congress election in 1997, the new election campaign, scheduled for late 2001/early 2002, will be based on the model of individual registrations and will be open to American Jews 18 years and older who identify themselves as Zionists.

As Evelyn Seelig, MERCAZ President noted, "In supporting the MERCAZ electoral campaign, we will strengthen our voice in the international decision-making process of world Jewry, the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel, which are the twin international bodies that serve as the "parliament" of the Jewish People. Moreover, by increasing our vote above the 26% we received in 1997, we will be able to exercise greater influence over the WZO-JAFI policy and allocations process to advance religious pluralism in Israel and bring financial benefit to the institutions of the Masorti Movement and the Israel-related programs of the worldwide Conservative Movement."

Dr. Saul Shapiro, MERCAZ Vice President, has been appointed Chairman of the MERCAZ Election Committee, which is composed of more than 50 lay and professional representatives located throughout the United States. He announced, "We are organizing our election campaign along the same model recommended by Jethro the Midianie to his son-in-law Moses over 3000 years ago. But instead of the captains of thousands, captains of hundreds, captains of fifties and captains of tens, we will have synagogue chairpeople, city/district chairpeople, regional chairpeople and national chairpeople."

The first goal of the Election Committee will be to insure that every Conservative Jew who turns 18 by the time of the Zionist Congress in 2002 registers to vote. While the exact dates for voter registration have yet to be set, it is anticipated that they will extend over a 6-8 week period in October-November 2001. Individual registrations will be effected by mailing a completed voting application, together with a personal check for $3, to a central clearinghouse. The AZM is investigating the possibilities of on-line registration, as well.

One important difference from the '97 Zionist elections is the fact that this time, the slate of candidates each Zionist organization will prepare must reserve 25% of its slots for young Zionist leadership, ages 18-30. For this reason, a special effort will be made to reach the high school seniors in USY, the college students involved in Koach, the NATIV alumni and all those who participated in past years in USY and Camp Ramah.

See Programs Page for more about Political Lobbying.


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