Spring 2004

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MERCAZ USA Newsletter — Spring 2004

From the President's Desk

In the last quarterly newsletter, we reported on a couple of new projects that MERCAZ was undertaking to strengthen the connection between our American Conservative Movement and Israel. In this column, I want to let our readers know that we've gotten off to a very good start.

In December, my community in Chicago was very pleased to host the first Masorti Aliyah Promotion Speaking Tour, a new project co-sponsored by MERCAZ USA, the Israel Aliyah Center and the Jewish Agency. Neil Eisenstadt, a shaliach from the JAFI Aliyah Department, came to our area and spoke to synagogues, youth groups, USY Advisors, Solomon Schechter Day Schools, rabbis and other Jewish professionals concerning the Masorti Movement in Israel, short and long-term travel and study programs in Israel, and the promise of aliyah. I am grateful to our partners for funding this project and to the many people who gave their time and energy to make Neil's visit successful.

Neil is a former Oleh from the United States, a licenced tour guide, the chairman of the ritual committee at the Ramat Yishai Masorti congregation and an active participant in USCJ's Project Reconnect. He brought us a message about the need for serious engagement with the State of Israel and the Masorti Movement in general and specifically, the many important programs we have in Israel, including the Masorti congregations, Schechter Institute, Ramah Programs and the United Synagogue's Fuchsberg Center.

We at MERCAZ USA are proponents of exactly this type of relationship. While important, following the news about Israel is not enough, nor is writing checks; we want people to be actively engaged with life in Israel and, in particular, our Masorti Movement there. This is a message we need all to hear, and it is for this reason that I am happy to announce that MERCAZ will be sponsoring two more such speaking tours in 2004, in April and November.

Of prime importance today is getting American Jews to travel to Israel, whether as tourists, students, volunteers or olim. But finding information about the Conservative Movement and general interest travel programs is sometimes daunting. For this reason, MERCAZ has taken upon itself to create a one-stop information page on our website with links to all the relevant summer and yearlong Israel programs. Just visit our website,, and click on "I'm Going to Israel!" on the homepage. You will be automatically linked to our "Israel Programs" page, as pictured below, with links to various short-term and long-term programs in Israel.


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