Yom HaAtzmaut 2008

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MERCAZ USA Newsletter — Yom HaAtzmaut 2008

Happy Birthday, Israel! — How the Conservative Movement is Celebrating

Now that Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel's Independence Day marking sixty years of statehood, is just around the corner, the worldwide Conservative/Masorti Movement is fully prepared for a movement-wide celebration.

With planning having begun more than a year ago, including the creation of a special website to serve as a clearinghouse of ideas and programs, MERCAZ USA, a member of the National Committee for Israel's 60th Anniversary, and Conservative/Masorti communities in Israel and throughout the world are ready to mark this historic milestone in the history of the Jewish People with prayers of thanksgiving and songs of joy.

Here are just a few highlights that are taking place:

Conservative Tourists Welcome

The institutions of Conservative/Masorti Judaism in Israel, including the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center, the Schechter Institute, the Masorti Movement, the Conservative Yeshiva, USCJ Israel Commission and the Neve Hanna Children's Village, are offering travelers to Israel a variety of options for visits, tours, study sessions, etc.

Whether this is your first time in Israel or your hundredth trip, whether you are traveling on your own or as part of a group, now is the time to visit Israel "the Conservative Way"!

Click here to read our Resources for Israel Study to enrich your "Israel @ 60" visit.

Schechter Schools Sing for Israel @ 60

In tribute to Israel's 60th anniversary, the Solomon Schechter Day School Association has launched a collaborative celebratory initiative, "Schechter Schools Sing for Israel @ 60", that demonstrates the deep connection of the Schechter schools to the land and people of Israel. The project has three main components, including:

  • "Kumi Ori", an original signature song composed by Rabbi David Paskin, which will be performed by Schechter schools in their Yom HaAtzmaut concerts and assemblies and is available upon request to all other groups affiliated with the Conservative Movement;

  • A CD set of more than 30 compositions reflecting the musical treasury of Israel across the six decades of statehood as performed by the students in Schechter school choirs across North America. The CD can be ordered from for the cost of postage and handling;

  • A beautiful color poster and a t-shirt designed especially for Schechter schools by graphic artist Sarah Shay-Davidson.

For more information, contact Dr. Elaine Cohen, Associate Director, USCJ Department of Education, 212-533-2061 or

MERCAZ/Women's League Essay Contest

MERCAZ USA, MERCAZ-Canada and Women's League for Conservative Judaism are organizing their biennial essay contest for teenagers to win scholarships for movement-sponsored trips to Israel.

The competition, which will begin over the summer, will be dedicated to reflections on Israel @ 60. The deadline for the 500-word essays will be September 25, 2008. Click here for details about the essay contest.

Unity Minyans at the Masorti Kotel

Masorti/Conservative Jews who will be in Jerusalem during the month of July, either Wednesday, July 9th, or July 23rd, are invited to join together at the southern end of the Western Wall, the Masorti Kotel, for a special 7:30 am morning minyanim organized by the Masorti Movement.

On these dates, those in Jerusalem touring with groups, visiting privately, studying at the Conservative Yeshiva or living as residents are invited to experience the "kavana" (devotion) of an egalitarian morning service at this historic spot. Participants are encouraged to bring their own siddur, tallit and tefillin. Rabbi James Lebeau, Director of the Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center, will be coordinating the special services and may be contacted at +972-2-625-6386 or

Cantors Make Beautiful Music for Israel

The Cantors Assembly and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism are co-producing a second "Spirit of Israel" CD to celebrate Israel's sixtieth anniversary. This beautiful volume with 21 tracks of wonderful songs and prayers of Israel, produced by Hazzan David Propis of Congregation Beth Yeshurun of Houston TX, will be available by Yom HaAtzmaut.

Additionally, the Cantors Assembly will be holding a special "Israel @ 60" concert on Wednesday, June 18th at 8:30pm, during the course of its annual convention at the Hudson Valley Resort in Kerhonkson, NY. The concert is open to the public.

For concert tickets and information about the new CD, contact Hazzan Eric Snyder, 212-678-8834, or visit the website


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