A Vision for AZM: Together We Can Make a Difference

Excerpts from  Rabbi Vernon Kurtz’s acceptance speech on December 17, 2012

kurtz-croppedIt is imperative that we involve ourselves in the political, educational and social welfare life of the Israeli people. We must do more to get people to Israel. Anyone who has gone to Israel understands much more readily the importance of the State, its challenges and its promise. At the same time, we can’t simply deal with nostalgia and with an idealized version of Israel. No longer can it be sanitized. Just read the Israeli papers and see how critical they can be. We need to confront some of the major issues in Israel’s internal life. I am not one who believes that we have a specific role in defining Israel’s security and political needs. I do feel, however, we have a role in attempting to create in Israel an exemplary society, a model society, not only for its citizens but for all Jews around the world. We are to be a light to the nations in a most emphatic way.

Israel education must be a high priority agenda both on the adult level and in our schools, whether they be day schools or supplementary schools. Not only politics but Zionism and our relationship to Israel is a subject for our younger generation to understand. We need to create ongoing relationships among people on both sides of the Atlantic and the social media and our technology easily allow us to do so.

We must promote Aliyah. If indeed Israel is the national homeland of our people then we must create opportunities for young people, families, retirees; if not to move to Israel on a permanent basis, then to be involved in alternative Aliyah possibilities, whether it be sabbaticals, long-term visits or opportunities for family study and vacations.

We need to study and know Hebrew. There is no excuse for anyone in leadership positions in the Zionist Movement not to know Hebrew. It is the language not merely of our prayers, liturgy and Tanach, but is the language of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. We must promote this study and challenge ourselves to always reach greater heights. We must work on the campus with whatever organizations promote Israel education and Israel advocacy. And we must engage in the arena of ideas where Zionism has been woefully absent.

I believe that we at AZM must lead the way in many of these areas and be a partner with others who are already doing fine work. We can only do so if we work together, put aside our differences and see the greater whole, the more noble purpose, the grand challenge. We may not complete the work, but neither are we free to desist from it. Together we can make a difference.

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New Leaders Elected at AZM Biennial Assembly

Marlene Post and Bill Hess

Marlene Post, departing Chairman of the AZM Board with outgoing President Bill Hess in a relaxed moment at dinner.

The room was full to capacity. Hurricane Sandy had caused a change in both date and venue for AZM’s Biennial Assembly in New York, but it hadn’t diminished enthusiasm levels. On December 17, the audience was eager to hear the different perspectives offered by speakers about Zionism and our role in it.

The short program packed a good punch, providing serious substance as Conference of Presidents Executive Vice Chairman and CEO Malcolm Hoenlein, Ameinu National President Kenneth Bob and World Zionist Organization Vice Chairman David Breakstone presented “Gaza, the UN Vote and the Aftermath.” American-Israeli comedian Joel Chasnoff then lightened the mood with his pitch-perfect

Francine Stein

Francine Stein addressing the biennial

rendition of Israelis and their attitudes. AZM Executive Director Karen Rubinstein was impressed with his ability to characterize so many kinds of Zionists so well. “Joel’s program offers a unique and entertaining way to open conversations about Zionism with North American groups,” she said. Chasnoff also modeled a new program promoted by AZM and the WZO to help Americans explore the meaning of Zionism today.

The AZM Biennial also serves as a meeting to elect new offices for the organization. Completing five years as President of AZM, Bill Hess passed the torch on to Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, rabbi of the North Suburban Synagogue, Beth El of Highland Park, Illinois. Rabbi Kurtz is a well-known figure in the Zionist world from his many roles in Mercaz and Mercaz Olami and thanks to his deep involvement with the Jewish Agency for Israel. In his acceptance speech, Rabbi Kurtz touched on the pillars of Zionism suggested by Solomon Schechter and urged attendees to work even harder to promote and support Zionism. “I believe that we at AZM must lead the way … and be a partner with others who are already doing fine

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz (left) Rabbi Bennett Miller (right)

Two New Presidents: Newly-elected president of AZM, Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, pictured with the new president of ARZA, Rabbi Bennett Miller.

work,” he said. “We can only do so if we work together, put aside our differences and see the greater whole, the more noble purpose, the grand challenge. We may not complete the work, but neither are we free to desist from it.”

Also elected were Kenneth Bob as Chairman of the Board; Harvey Blitz of the Religious Zionists of America, David Newman of ARZA and Leonard Petlakh of the American Forum of Russian Jews as Vice Presidents; Judy Shereck of Hadasssah as Treasurer and David Krantz of the Green Zionist Alliance as Secretary.

At the conclusion of the business meeting, participants gathered for a dinner honoring Bill Hess. Several speakers toasted Hess and extolled his contributions to AZM, and he was presented with a tzedakah box as a gift of appreciation for his dedication to the Zionist Movement.  The evening was also full of surprises, with a performance by singer Lisa Berman and a sing-along at the end of her set.

Bill Hess pictured with AMIT leadership

The top leadership of AMIT took time to pose with outgoing AZM President Bill Hess.

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Joel Chasnoff Presents the Schizophrenic Zionist in Chicago

Make your reservation now for a Comedy Event to be remembered!

Regular entrance: $10
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Students: $5
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Or, email Chaya Segal, AZM Chicago

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AZM Biennial Assembly Rescheduled To December 17th

RESCHEDULED FOR MONDAY, DECEMBER 17

Join AZM on December 17, 2012, as we review our achievements and plan for the next two years. We will bid farewell to our outgoing officers and elect a new officers and a new administration.

The date and location are set, and we are now hard at work developing the program for the AZM December 17th Biennial Assembly and dinner.  The meeting and business sessions will be at UJA-Federation, 130 East 59th Street.  Registration will open at 1:30 PM and the program will begin at 2:00 PM.  Immediately following the meetings, around 5:30 PM, we will move directly across the street to The Lighthouse Conference Center for a festive dinner, including musical entertainment, honoring our outgoing president, Bill Hess.

The cost of full registration remains at $180, which includes: the meeting, the festive dinner, and a  name listing in the journal honoring Bill (a $75 value).  The meeting-only price is $36; the dinner-only price is $125. Tickets already purchased for the dinner, will of course, be honored.

The program will review many of the major issues facing the Jewish people and the Zionist movement today, including a diplomatic briefing, a preview to the forthcoming Israeli elections, an interactive look at some of the faces of Zionism today, modern day anti-Semitism and its relationship to BDS We will conclude with an response from the WZO as to how today’s Zionist movement is addressing these issues.  Of course, we will also have a business session, including the election of our new officers.

We urge each of you to plan to join us for the entire day. It is a way of showing your solidarity with Israel and her people still reeling from the recent onslaught of rockets in the south. It is also a unique opportunity to get information to use in your home communities to help defend and build the Jewish state. Lastly,  you will be inspired by the relevance of the renewed and growing Zionist Movement through the World Zionist Organization.

Register Now

 

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William Hess Concluding His Term as President

William  Hess (known by all as “Bill”)  is a dedicated Zionist.  There is no doubt about his passion, his dedication, and his unbounded love for Israel.  In 2007, Bill was elected President of the American Zionist Movement and he has not rested a day since in his efforts to make AZM bigger, better and more effective. As Bill leaves office this November we know that he will still be working hard to secure Israel’s and the Zionist Movement’s future.

Friends and colleagues of Bill are invited to join AZM as we honor him for his achievements.  There will be a dinner in Bill’s honor at the conclusion of the AZM Biennial Assembly on November 18, 2012.  If you cannot join us that evening, please consider expressing your good wishes in our dinner journal.

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AZM Chicago Officers 2011- 2012

Guy Hollingsworth | President

Seymour Lipton | Chairman of the Board

Shoshana Axler | Vice President

Rafael Bratman | Vice President

Miffie Nagorsky | Vice President

Miriam Goldberger | Vice President

Elizabeth Gossage | Vice President

Rachelle Rosenfeld | Vice President

Dr. Lee Silverglade | Vice President

Sandy Silverglade | Vice President

Sandy Starkman | Vice President

Michael Szanto | Vice President

Julie Cooper | Treasurer

Jean Goldrich | Financial Secretary

Ethel C. Fenig | Recording Secretary

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AZM Staff

AZM Executive Staff ( in alphabetical order)

National Headquarters, NY

Natanya Herzstein | Executive Assistant

Karen J. Rubinstein | National Executive Director

Dana Shakarchy| Associate Director, Young Leadership, New York

 



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Officers

AZM Officers

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz | President

Kenneth Bob | Chair, National Board

Harvey Blitz | Vice President

David Newman | Vice President

Leonard Petlakh | Vice President

Judy Shereck | Treasurer

David Krantz | Secretary

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American Zionist Movement: Leadership

We promise dedicated and passionate Zionist leadership who will lead the way in the United States on behalf of Israel and Jewish people.  Read more about our staff  and volunteers who serve in American Jewish leadership roles.

Officers

Staff

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AZM Constitution

CONSTITUTION AND BY-LAWS
-OF-
AMERICAN ZIONIST MOVEMENT, INC.

As approved at the Assembly of the AZM in Miami on
January 31, 1993, in Boca Raton on December 20, 1995, in Washington D.C.
on June 14, 1998, in New York City on February 5, 2003 ,in Washington, DC
on September 14, 2003 by the AZM National Board, at in Newark, New Jersey
on October 22, 2007

Download the full AZM Constitution as a PDF

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