Winter 2000-2001

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MERCAZ USA Newsletter — Winter 2000-2001

Mercaz Welcomes First Masorti Shlicha

For the past dozen years since the World Zionist Organization/Jewish Agency instituted a shaliach's position to the Conservative Movement in North America, the Israeli emissaries have all had a common trait: they have been men and members of secular kibbutzim. Now for the first time, MERCAZ USA welcomes a new kind of shaliach. Meet Karni Goldshmid-Lahav, the first Conservative Movement shlicha who is a woman and a Masorti Jew!

In welcoming Karni to North America, MERCAZ President Evelyn Seelig remarked: "While we have enjoyed tremendous rapport from our previous shlichim, including the outgoing shaliach Hezi Nir, there has always been the matter of teaching our Israeli representatives what Conservative/Masorti Judaism stands for. With Karni, this is a moot issue, since not only is she a member of a Masorti synagogue and a student at the Schechter Institute completing her MA degree in Judaism and Gender Studies, but prior to arriving, she served as the National Director of Education for Masorti Judaism."

During her tenure with the Masorti Movement, Karni established her name as an educational innovator, in coordinating the adult educational programs and preparing materials for the more than 50 Masorti kehillot in Israel. She composed the first Masorti Seder for Tu Bishvat and last year compiled an Israeli feminist Passover background sourcebook.

As Rabbi Robert Golub, Executive Director of the Zionist arm of the Conservative Movement, noted: "There are three main responsibilities for the shaliach. The first is to provide outreach to the synagogue population about what is happening in Israel, politically, socially and culturally. The second is to encourage short-term and long-term visits and stays in Israel, particularly for college students and young adults. The third is to help those individuals and families who are contemplating aliyah through the complex and complicated physical and psychological process involved in moving to, and getting established in, the Jewish State."

Housed at the MERCAZ USA office, the shaliach to the Conservative Movement has special ties to Tnuat AM and Marom/Koach. Tnuat AM, literally "the Movement for Masorti Aliyah," provides a supportive framework for Conservative Jews planning to make aliyah. Through its twice annual newsletter, "The AMton", and its regular meetings and educational seminars, Tnuat AM helps potential olim make the contacts necessary for making a successful transition to Israel. Marom/Koach is the North American student Zionist network, geared for college students who have spent time in Israel and who want to continue their Israel connection once back on the college campus.

For those interested in more information about Tnuat AM or Marom/Koach or who would like to arrange a presentation by the shlicha at their congregation, please contact Karni Goldshmid-Lahav at the MERCAZ office, 212-533-7800 ext. 2021, e-mail:, or visit the their website at


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