Spread Some of the Joy of Purim in Israel

Dear Friends,

Believe it or not, Purim is right around the corner! As we prepare for our parties and plan out our costumes, we also have a special opportunity to spread some Purim joy in Israel.

Please join our campaign to send Mishloach Manot to the members of the Jerusalem Border Patrol, and police officers stationed in Jerusalem’s Old City, a unique combination of IDF soldiers and police officers tasked with ensuring the security of our sacred capital. Over the past few months, a disturbing number of vicious terror attacks have changed the daily reality in Israel – primarily in Jerusalem. This new wave of violence was just starting to become the frightening norm as we attended the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem this past October. Tensions could be felt throughout the city, and country. Jerusalem businesses have suffered, tourism has decreased, and parents don’t leave their homes with their children without carrying handheld items for self-defense.Screen Shot 2016-02-05 at 11.36.39 AM

While tragic news spreads quickly, what we don’t see or hear about in the US are the numerous attacks thwarted. Over the past six months, border patrol and police forces have seized countless weapons and prevented on average 2-3 terror attacks per day in the greater Jerusalem area. Just last week, Hadar Cohen Z”L, a 19 year-old border policewoman was killed in a terrorist attack at the Damascus Gate. Brave young men and women apprehend criminals and stop terror in its tracks; heroes we rarely hear about and don’t recognize enough.

Please join us in thanking them. As the Jewish nation, we have a responsibility to protect Israel, our Homeland. Though we may not be there personally, we can support those on the front lines who work tirelessly to keep our eternal capital safe so that Jerusalem’s civilians can walk the streets safely.

Imagine the pride and joy of a young officer receiving a show of appreciation from the global Jewish community this Purim.

Your gift of:

  •  $36 will provide one policeman with a basket;
  •  $180 will ensure an entire team will receive baskets.

In addition to this important initiative, and as in years past, the American Zionist Movement’s Purim Connection
program will continue to celebrate Purim with children in Ashkelon and other Israeli towns and villages.

  •  A gift of $300 will provide mishloach manot for an entire class.

Every gift counts and even a small donation will help an officer or Israeli child to enjoy the holiday. All gift baskets are purchased in Israel, therefore providing critical support to small Israeli businesses. Our friends and colleagues in Israel will hand deliver your gift basket.

Mishloach manot can be easily ordered via our website, please include a personal message that will be delivered with the basket.

This year’s campaign will be dedicated in memory of our dear friend and colleague, Marty Davis, who was instrumental in ensuring the success of this program in Israel. Marty made a difference and is sorely missed.

Amidst the latest wave of terror, we reflect on the meaning of Purim, a celebration to commemorate one of many stories from our collective history that exhibits our unique ability to stand up to our enemies, and unite as a people to overcome danger. In these difficult times, the American Zionist community, whose members are from vastly different backgrounds and perspectives, must join together to boost the morale to those who protect and serve, Israel and world Jewry. In doing so, we send the crucial message to Israel that we stand by her side, now during this difficult period, and always.

This Purim, join this initiative to do something different, do something special. Please order your mishloach manot baskets today or mail in a check to:

American Zionist Movement
40 Wall Street, Suite #706
New York, NY 10005.

The AZM, the American arm of the World Zionist Organization, is committed to the strengthening of Israel – locally, and around the world. JOIN US in uniting as a people, overcoming fear, and making this Purim a very special one for Israel’s quiet heroes.

We thank you for your support.

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz                                                           William D. Hess

President                                                                          Chair, Purim Connection

Sig Will + Vernon

 

 

 

 

P.S. We ask that you make your gift by March 9, 2016.

 

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Helyn B. Reich Scholarship Recipients, Spring 2016

We are delighted to announce the recipients of the Spring 2016 Helyn B. Reich Scholarship. They have been chosen for their impressive involvement in Zionist causes in the United States, ranging from activism on their university campuses, to their commitment to Tikkun Olam, and to relentlessly fighting anti-Semitism. We are proud to support the future Zionist activists of our country.

Isabel cropped Isabel Schneider will be attending Saving The Stones, in Acre, northern Israel. The practical training program is designed to give the foundation  needed to begin a career in conservation of built heritage and historic preservation. Isabel  graduated cum laude from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, and spent a year in Israel as a  Community Development Fellow, teaching English to Israeli students through small group tutoring and creative  projects. The granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and having experienced anti-Semitism personally, Isabel is a  proud and passionate Zionist. Isabel writes that “Zionism is the acknowledgement that Jews not only deserve to  exist, but also to thrive, and in order for that dream to be realized they must have a place of their own. That place is Israel.” While in Israel, Isabel curated art shows and was able to build strong connections with Israeli artists and writers. Following the program, she plans to keep working in museums in both conservation and curatorial capacities, to be able to impact the international perception of Israel as a cultural leader, and perhaps even make Aliyah in the future.

 

Read Isabel’s essay on her connection to Zionism
Ella CroppesElla Ozer, a current undergraduate student at the University of Arizona, will be attending Tel Aviv University this upcoming Spring. Despite Tel Aviv University not being part in the semester abroad program of her university, Ella decided to spend her semester in Israel. Born in an Israeli family with very strong Zionist values, Ella has participated in various programs in Israel and was a proud member of the Israeli Scouts. She is also extremely involved in Jewish and Zionist life on her university campus, partaking in Hillel and Chabad events, co-founding the IAC Mishelanu chapter, and advocating for Israel on a day-to-day basis. Having her cousins serve in the Israel Defense Forces has had a great impact on Ella and incited her to get involved in a program dedicated to helping IDF soldiers. She hopes that her semester abroad will help her decide whether she wants to make Aliyah upon graduation. She is, regardless, looking forward to creating strong and meaningful relationships during her Israel experience, that will last a lifetime.

Read Ella’s essay on her connection to Zionism

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Hebrew Comes to The Forefront of Jewish Education

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 The American Zionist Movement has been  striving for over 100 years to strengthen the connection of American Jews to Israel. From the Tachles program to Cafe Ivrit, AZM has long held the belief that  Hebrew is an essential component of Jewish identity and attachment to Israel. For this reason, we are extremely proud to be partners in the new American Jewish initiative – The Council for Hebrew Language and Culture – to promote the teaching of Hebrew all across the United States.

The Council for Hebrew Language and Culture convened last week in New Jersey for its annual conference. The organization, established in 2013,  aims to connect people to the Jewish culture, religion and language through Hebrew. This November the Council attained one of its initial goals —  the establishment of professional network of teachers, which aims to “address the needs and professional growth of the tens of thousands of people teaching Hebrew in schools, synagogues, community centers and youth movements in North America, and to unite them under one parent organization to advance the study of the Hebrew language.(JPost article)..  

Speaking Hebrew is a way to strengthen one’s connection and attachment to Israel, Israelis, Jewish and Israeli culture, and even helps promote connections with other Diaspora Jews. Hebrew is a great way to bridge the cultural divide that can be felt between American Jews and Israelis.  The founding conference, established by the HLC, gathered 120 Hebrew teachers from all across North America, who were able to discuss and experiment with innovative approaches to teach Hebrew, and discuss the role of language in Israel education. The excitement and passion conveyed by the participants was palpable, and all were thrilled to be the educators that will hopefully transform and advance the teaching of Hebrew in the United States. 

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In Memory of the Victims of Terror in Israel

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The American Zionist Movement mourns all the victims of terror and condemns those who perpetrate, condone or applaud such acts. In recent months people in Israel have suffered at the hands of individuals who have expressed their personal anger and outrage in the form of violence against innocent and unsuspecting victims.  These horrific events have been joined by equally unimaginable acts of terror in Europe, Africa, Lebanon and Turkey. AZM’s leadership offers it deepest condolences to the families of those mortally wounded and to the injured and maimed.  As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, we pray for those souls who were tragically taken.  We call on the world community to condemn those who perpetrate hatred and incite violence, as we pledge to join together to restore balance and bring peace to the world.

 

 

Baruch Dayan Emet.

All victims of terror since 2000 can be found on the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.  Below are those murdered in the most recent series of incidents.

Alexander Levlovich Sept 13, 2015
Eitam Henkin Oct 1, 2015
Naama Henkin Oct 1, 2015
Aharon Banita-Bennett Oct 3, 2015
Nehemia Lavi​ Oct 3, 2015
Chaim Haviv Oct 13, 2015
Alon Govberg Oct 13, 2015
Yeshayahu Krishevsky Oct 13, 2015
Omri Levy Oct 18, 2015
Habtom Weldemicheal Zerhom Oct 18, 2015
Avraham Asher Hasno Oct 20, 2015
Rabbi Haim (Howie) Rothman Oct 24, 2015
Richard Lakin Oct 27, 2015
Benjamin Yakubovich Nov 8, 2015
Netanel Litman Nov 13, 2015
Ya’akov Litman Nov 13, 2015
Reuven Aviram Nov 19, 2015
Aharon Yesayev Nov 19, 2015
Yaakov Don Nov 19, 2015
Ezra Schwartz Nov 19, 2015
Shadi Arafa Nov 19, 2015
Hadar Buchris Nov 22, 2015
Ziv Mizrahi Nov 23, 2015
Ofer Ben Ari Dec 23, 2015
Reuven (Eduardo) Birmajer Dec 23, 2015
Gennady Kaufman Dec 30, 2015
Alon Bakal Jan 1, 2016
Shimon (Shimi) Ruimi Jan 1, 2016
Amin Shaaban Jan 1, 2016
Dafna Meir Jan 17, 2016
Shlomit Krigman Jan 25, 2016
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Robotraffic 2016 Competition at the Technion

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 8.32.50 AM The Robotraffic Competition will take place at the Technion next March for the 7th consecutive year. The event is a  joint  initiative of the Technion Leumi Robotics Center at the Technion’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering  and RAVSAK, the Jewish Community Day School Network, in cooperation with the World Zionist Organization and  the American  Zionist Movement. The participants come from all over Israel and the Jewish Diaspora and have the  opportunity  to build their technical knowledge and skills. To compete, each team has to design a vehicle, install the  software, build it, and make a presentation – in Hebrew or English. The event does not, however, only focus on  technology and innovations in robotic car structure, but also on knowledge of driving rules and road safety. The  teams are judged on the quality of their cars, how well they drive, and how safe they are.

 

Avi Agnon, Chairman of World ORT –  a global Jewish educational organization, which cosponsored the event in 2012 –  highlighted its contributions in bringing “groups from abroad, encouraging the connection between Jewish communities  abroad and those in Israel, and providing a forum to exchange knowledge and ideas between students”.

Indeed, beyond a robotic competition, the event is an opportunity for young North American teens to experience a  week of friendly competition, while meeting budding scientists in Israel and discovering the country. The participants  will stay in Israel for 9 days, March 14-22nd 2016.

For more information, please contact Einav Gelber at einav.ogi@gmail.com

 

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Elections to the 37th World Zionist Congress Votes Are In and Delegate Numbers Allocated

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“The World Zionist Congress is the single best opportunity for American Jews to have its voice heard on critical issues facing Israel and the Jewish People” said Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, President of the American Zionist Movement; and the voice has spoken.

Now that the elections have closed and the votes have been counted, 145 new delegates from the US will participate in the upcoming    the upcoming congress.  Elections for the World Zionist Congress ran from January through April and came to a close with a total of 56,737 votes.  At the top with the highest number of seats: ARZA with 56 delegates, Mercaz with 25 and Vote Torah (AMIT, B’nei Akiva and RZA)  with 24.  While ARZA maintained their delegate count since the previous election, Mercaz and Mizrachi have lost a combined 18 delegates.  Despite this decrease, the three major religious streams still hold over 70% of the seats of the American delegation.

Two new slates vied for seats at the Congress during this election, Ohavei Zion, winning 4 seats, and Alliance for New Zionist Vision, which won 2.

Below is the count by slate, and the distribution of the 145 delegates for the election of American Delegates to the 37th World Zionist Congress.

ARZA -Representing Reform Judaism 21,766 56
Mercaz USA: Zionist Arm of the Conservative Movement 9.890 25
Vote Torah: Religious Zionists 9,594 24
American Forum for Israel 3,773 10
HATIKVAH-The progressive Zionist Voice 3,148 8
Zionist Organization of America/ZOA Defend Jews & Israeli rights 2,738 7
Zionist Spring: Restoring Vision to World Zionism 2,696 7
World Sephardic Organization – Ohavei Tsion 1,650 4
Alliance for New Zionist Vision 735 2
Green Israel: Aytzim/Green Zionist Alliance/Jewcology 443 1
Herut North America -The Jabotinsky Movement 304 1

“Those who cast their votes in this election became part of a great historical continuum, and are now personally involved in crafting the future of the Jewish State,” said Judge Abraham Gafni, the chairman of the US Area Election Committee, which oversees the elections in the United States.  “I am excited by the tremendous energy that has been displayed towards the commitment to Israel’s future.”

Although the Congress represents all of world Jewry, the US historically sends the second largest delegation to participate in the Congress, which offers the best opportunity for ideological parties to grow.  This potential growth means positions in the WZO and increased budget spending in those departments.

This year’s election saw an overall broadening of representation of Zionist groups and, as a result, slates such as Hatikvah, Zionist Spring and the ZOA gained seats at the table.

Though the US elections have concluded, there are other countries currently running elections. All elections must be completed at least three (3) months prior to the opening of Congress.  In Israel the Knesset elections provide the key to representation of Zionist parties at the Congress. The US delegation looks forward to productive meetings with their Zionist counterparts from around the world, in the hopes of creating a stronger Zionist movement.

The 37th World Zionist Congress is scheduled to take place October 20-22, 2015, in Jerusalem, Israel.

 

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AZM Celebrates Israel at the 2015 Parade Amidst 50,000 Marchers

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On Sunday May 31st the Empire State Building announced the Israel festivities by illuminating the colors of the Israeli flag. By the mid-morning, Fifth Avenue was filled with over 50,000 individuals marching in solidarity to celebrate and support the State of Israel. Jewish organizations, synagogues, schools, and yeshivas from all streams of Judaism and widely ranging ideological perspectives all joined together to show their exuberance and love for Israel and the Jewish People.  Those in attendance chanted various Israeli tunes, and a combination of old Zionist and contemporary Israeli songs filled the air.

The American Zionist Movement was again a proud sponsor of a Parade float and marched with signs and banners communicating this year’s theme, “Israel Imagines”. A theme which speaks to the vibrancy and creativity of modern Israel.   AZM’s own twist on the parade theme was “Take pride in our past. Just imagine our future”. Our float highlighted this idea by focusing on the innovations of traditional Zionism, in particular, the Kibbutzim and its pioneering immigrants, while marchers referenced contemporary Israel’s hi-tech contributions and humanitarian values.  Overall the AZM theme focused on the progress Israel has made in developing from an agricultural society to a modern high-tech hub. With a little imagination, it is indeed easy to foresee what Israel could become in the next years.

Our participating member organizations also had a thrilling time. They constituted a considerable marching group, demonstrating how the Parade was a gathering of Israeli pride, excitement, and joy. The collective celebration included participants from AMIT, Ameinu, B’nai B’rith, Emunah of America, Habonim Dror, Hadassah, Hashomer Hatzair, Hebrew Tabernacle, Mercaz, and Or Shalom.

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In Three Minutes You Can Effect Change In Israel

vernon featured imageBeing president of the American Zionist Movement (AZM), I understand how Zionism has different meanings and emotions depending on one’s relationship with Israel.

However, I cannot stress enough, as Jewish Americans, regardless of our definition, that it is our right and opportunity to vote on behalf of Israel. The more votes America has, the stronger our voice can be heard for Israel and for Zionism.

 

WHY IS VOTING SO CRITICAL THIS YEAR?

With the State of Israel besieged on many sides, with the current state of relationships between the State of Israel and the United States administration, with the concern of the general public whether we still care about the State of Israel and its survival, here’s our opportunity to take a stand.

The Zionist elections allow us to voice our opinions on many issues. From the left to the right politically, from the right to the left religiously, including all religious streams and political points of view, there is surely one of the 11 slates that will speak to you.

As the media and political pundits analyze the strength of the philanthropic dollars to Israel as a measure of support by American Jews of their brothers and sisters of Israel, they will do the same as they analyze the number of voters who take the opportunity to express their democratic privilege in these elections. Whatever slate meets your religious, political or cultural needs, I encourage you to take a stand on behalf of the State of Israel and its centrality to American Jewish life. Your vote matters.

 

The WZC is the outstretched arm and the supreme organ of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), where once the main goal was to establish a legally assured home in the land of Israel for the Jewish people. Now, the issues are embedded in the Jerusalem Program (see below) which focuses on matters of: unity of the Jewish people and the connection to Israel, fighting anti-Semitism, creating a democratic and egalitarian multifacted state according to the vision of the prophets, education and more.

 

Israel needs the Diaspora more than ever before and the Diaspora needs Israel. It is a partnership we cannot negate and must value for now and future generations.

 

This vote is our opportunity to join the conversation and participate in the global Jewish voting process. The choice of what slate you will vote for is, of course, entirely up to you. What’s important is the act of voting itself.

 

VOTING IS EASY TO DO:

1. Go directly to the page www.Myselfourisrael.com

2. Register and accept the “Jerusalem Program” (see below for explanation)*

3. Pay $10 ($5 for those ages 18 to 30)

4. Vote

 

Voting ends April 30, 2015. I encourage you to take three minutes, raise your voice for Israel, join in the conversation and help make a difference in shaping Israel’s future.

 

*The “Jerusalem Program” is the shared vision of all organizations and institutions of WZO and includes amongst its principles:

 

- Unity of the Jewish people and the connection to Israel

- A democratic and multifaceted state according to the vision of the prophets

- Aliyah and settlement in Israel

- The centrality of Israel to the Jewish world

- Dissemination of Jewish culture and education

- Hebrew Language

- Fighting anti-Semitism

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Elections to the 37th World Zionist Congress — Vote Today

small starMY SELF. ONE PEOPLE. OUR ISRAEL

The elections to the World Zionist Congress offer a unique opportunity for the global Jewish community to have its voice heard on issues of concern.  Here is in the United States the elections will field 11 slates, including two newly qualified slates.

Slates will be competing for the 145 delegates of the 500 elected delegates to the Zionist Congress. The slates reflect the tremendous diversity of the Zionist Movement, both ideologically and Jewish practice with organizations spanning the political spectrum from right to left, and including the Jewish religious streams.

Organizers are putting out a general call to all American Jews who care about Israel and World Jewry to register and vote. They also invite participants to post their own photo and send the message that this is a personal act, important to the totality of the Jewish People, and seeking to promote their vision for Israel’s Future.

Register and vote today.

Visit now  and post your picture and tell the world why you voted.

 

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Attend WZO’s International Bible Competition

There is no book that expresses the diversity of our values as a people more than the Bible.

The International Bible Competition is a golden opportunity to reconnect with our roots, to return to our values and strive for excellence.

If you love the Book of Books, the World Zionist Organization and the American Zionist Movement invite you to attend the International Bible Contest for Adults and be amazed by the competitors’ knowledge of the Bible.

 

Attend the Competition

 

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