AZM 6 Month Report

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September 2017




March – September 2017


This report is a compilation prepared by the President of AZM, Richard D. Heideman; Chair of the AZM National Board, Francine Stein; AZM Executive Director, Herbert Block; AZM Program Director, Alicia Post; and the AZM Leadership Cabinet.


AZM BIENNIAL ASSEMBLY & LEADERSHIP: At the AZM Biennial Assembly on March 5-6, 2017 in NYC, with 175 participants, new leadership for AZM was elected, including the following officers: Richard D. Heideman, President, Francine Stein, Chair of the AZM National Board; Marlene Post (VP for Fundraising Development), Paul Golomb (VP for Programs), Marilyn Wind (VP for Inter-Organizational Affairs) and Alan Silberman (VP for WZO Relations).  Each is in the process of building out their portfolios, including working with various Committees that have been or are in the process of being established.

AZM Executive Director, Herbert Block began in his role in March 2017, succeeding Karen Rubinstein, who was named Executive Director Emerita upon her retirement.  Alicia Post was named AZM Program Director in April 2017.

A video of Richard’s acceptance speech and written remarks as incoming President are available online. Click here for selected press links.    

AZM Treasurer Jim Schiller has revamped our fiscal accounting and reporting functions and will be  preparing an initial 2018 budget draft for early review by the AZM National Board at its November, 2017 meeting.

AZM Secretary, Shelley Sherman, has prepared extensive minutes of all the meetings of both the AZM National Board and the AZM Leadership Cabinet.


AZM LEADERSHIP CABINET:  The AZM Leadership Cabinet has met March 30, May 17, June 20, July 11 and is convening on September 14


AZM NATIONAL BOARD:  The AZM National Board met on March 6, June 5 and will next convene on September 14.


AZM PRESIDENTS & EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS:  We have convened meetings of the AZM Presidents & Executive Directors of the various member/affiliate/youth organizations.  This new forum, convened on June 5, July 11 and September 12, has proven valuable in exchanging ideas and in expanding the thinking on issues as we strive to address concerns of the various organizations within the spectrum of AZM.


PROGRAMS:  AZM has sponsored or participated in the following programs during the past six months; 


  • Yom Yerushalayim commemoration – MD (5/23)
  • Anniversary of Reunification of Jerusalem – Capitol Hill (5/17)
  • Yom Hazikaron & Yom Ha’atzmaut Flag Raising Ceremony – Bowling Green, NY (5/1/17)
  • Ambassadors Against BDS – UN (3/29)


YEAR OF ZIONIST ANNIVERSARIES:  AZM has announced and is pursuing activities in 2017-18 under the banner of the “Year of Zionist Anniversaries”, including the following. The program announcements can be found here:

  • 75 years since the convening of the Biltmore Conference in NY in May 1942;
  • 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem, following the Six Day War, in June 1967;
  • 70 years since the journey of the Exodus refugee ship in August 1947;
  • 120 years since Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in August 1897;
  • 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was issued in November 1917 by the British Foreign Secretary;
  • 70 years since adoption of the United Nations Partition Resolution in November 1947;
  • 70 years since the founding of the State of Israel in May 1948


AZM WASHINGTON NATIONAL CONFERENCE:  AZM has announced its Washington National Conference, November 15-16-17, 2017, Zionism Forward in the Spirit of Balfour, which will be held in partnership with the Department for Diaspora Activities of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and the Balfour Initiative of the Israel Forever Foundation (IFF). 


AZM and WZO:  AZM is working closely with the WZO on multiple activities and recently hosted Avraham Duvdevani, Chairman of the WZO as guest speaker at the AZM National Board Meeting; Esther Serok, WZO US Representative at the Herzl in the Park program; and Gusti Yehoshua Braverman, Chair of the Department of Diaspora Affairs of the WZO, at a special meeting of AZM Presidents, Executive Directors and Leadership.


AMERICAN ZIONIST SHABBAT:  AZM has announced the dates of October 28-December 2, 2017 for communities to hold an American Zionist Shabbat program, providing resource materials to Rabbis, AZM organizations, synagogues, schools and communal leaders so they can speak about Zionism during this period.


AZM COMMITTEES/TASK FORCES/WORKING GROUPS/INITIATIVES:  AZM has created, or is in the process of appointing, leaders to participate in various AZM Task Forces, Working Groups and Initiatives.  Interested leaders can self-nominate, or recommend others, to join the following groups being considered by the AZM Leadership Cabinet:

  • Communications and Website
  • Constitution (WZO and AZM)
  • Fundraising & Resource Development
  • Israel 70th Anniversary
  • Membership Outreach  (organizational and individual)
  • Policy Review & Issues
  • Programs and Events
  • Strategic Planning Implementation
  • Washington National Conference Planning
  • Youth Development, Young Leadership and Education
  • Zionist Shabbat Planning


AZM FUNDRAISING DEVELOPMENT:  For AZM to succeed, we must group our fundraising and development resources.  That means contributions, grants, bequests.  Please make your own contribution and solicit others.


AZM STRATEGIC PLANNING:  AZM adopted in September 2016 a new Strategic Plan.  AZM is following the plan in all respects and is updating the Strategic Plan as a working tool to guide our growth.


WZO RELATIONS: Under the leadership of the VP for WZO Relations AZM has been actively involved in discussions on possible revisions to the WZO Constitution and Regulations and has presented many items to the WZO for its consideration.  AZM has also been preparing for the upcoming Zionist General Council (Vaad HaPoel) meeting in Israel at the end of October in consultation with our organizations and others.


COMMUNAL ORGANIZATIONAL INVOLVEMENT: AZM leadership has participated in meetings of the following organizations of which it is a member: Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; AIPAC National Council; National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry; and, the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.


MEETINGS and OUTREACH:   The new staff of AZM have been meeting individually with each of the 25 AZM constituent organizations in order to learn more about their work and how they can best be connected to programs and mission of AZM.  Staff have also met with many other national Jewish and pro-Israel organizations in order to brief them about AZM and connect our activities.  Staff have also begun to develop connections with colleagues at Zionist federations in countries across the world.


HELYN B. REICH Memorial SCHOLARSHIP FUND:  Reich scholarships are awarded each fall and spring to a limited number of American students who choose to study at one of several designated Israeli universities or attend post-college long-term programs. The scholarship seeks to recognize candidates who have demonstrated academic excellence, pro-Israel activity in their personal lives, and a dedicated commitment to future involvement with the Jewish and Zionist community in the United States.  The latest class of award recipients was announced in September 2017.  Read more at:


AMERICAN ZIONIST YOUTH COUNCIL (AZYC): This initiative, funded by WZO and operated through AZM, brings together the leadership of the Zionist youth movements and other national Jewish youth organizations in America, for coordination of activities and joint programs.  You can read more on AZYC March Shabbaton here.


AZM LEADERSHIP MEMORANDA:  AZM has issued the following Leadership Memoranda to a broad list of AZM leaders from its Board, Zionist and Jewish organizations and other communal leaders:


PUBLIC STATEMENTS:  AZM has released various public statements on selected issues, including:

  • With Zionism Under Assault American Jewish and Israeli Dignitaries gathered in NYC to Celebrate the Birth of the Movement August 28, 2017 | Read Full Text
  • AZM Denounces Richard Spencer Calling Himself a “White Zionist” August 17, 2017 | Read Full Text
  • 75 Years after Historic Biltmore Conference, AZM Launches “Year of Zionist Anniversaries” May 11, 2017 | Read Full Text



On June 29th AZM sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding the controversy concerning the Kotel. The letter can be seen here;


PRESS INTERVIEWS AND COVERAGE:  We have had numerous press articles, listed here:  

AZM in the News

  • Celebrating the First Zionist Congress (Queens Chronicle) August 31, 2017 | Read Full Text
  • In KGH, Jewish Community Leaders Celebrate Herzl, 120th Anniversary Of First Zionist Congress (Queens Jewish Link) August 30, 2017 | Read Full Text | Click for Community Snapshots
  • Zionism Under Assault (New York Jewish Life) August 30, 2017 – Leaders Gather in NYC to mark the birth of a movement | Read Full Text
  • US Jewish leaders from right to left back metal detectors on Temple Mount ( July 21, 2017 | Read Full Text
  • Moving Zionism Forward: A Conversation with the President of the American Zionist Movement (Patheos) June 15, 2017 | Read Full Text
  • Jewish Survival Through Jewish Unity, Theme of New AZM President (JewishPress) May 17, 2017 – Heideman’s task will be to fashion unity from a widely-disparate consortium of Zionists | Read Full Text
  • Zionism Forward (JPost) April 25, 2017 – Why are American Jews so fazed by the question- Are you a Zionist? | Read Full Text
  • New AZM President (LIJW) March 31-April 6, 2017 | Read Full Text
  • Four Questions: Herbert Block (New York Jewish Life) March 21, 2017 | Read Full Text
  • Ex-Louisvillian elected president of AZM (Jewish Louisville) March 17, 2017 | Read Full Text
  • ‘News and analysis’ (The Chronicle of Philanthropy) March 10, 2017 – Grist and American Zionist Movement Name New Top Executives | Read Full Text
  • ‘Impact of BDS is worse than most people Realize’ (JPost) February 26, 2017 – Richard D. Heideman, one of the foremost legal experts on fighting the BDS movement, seeks to repair the tarnished name of Zionism | Read Full Text



The following additional announcements were sent by email to AZM’s contact list:

August 15 2017: Join us 8/28: Celebrate 120 years since Herzl\’s Zionist Congress:

July 18 2017: 70 Years Ago Today: Exodus Commemoration:

June 20 2017: Moving Zionism Forward:

June 2 2017: Celebrate Israel with AZM – Sunday, June 4th:

May 19 2017: Celebrate Jerusalem Day in Potomac, MD – May 23rd:

 Apr 27 2017: NY area Yom Hazikron & Yom Ha\’atzmaut Events:

Apr 26 2017: Zionism Forward, Today\’s Jerusalem Post:

Apr 06 2017: Passover Greetings, Zionism Forward:

Mar 23 2017: Join AZM at the UN on 3/29, Ambassadors Against BDS:




AZM/WZO Mission to the March of the Living

The International March of the Living is an annual educational program, bringing individuals from around the world to Poland to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance and hatred. This year’s March commemorates the 30th year anniversary of the March of the Living.

View the schedule here

August 28: Celebrating 120 years since Herzl’s Zionist Congress

August 28, 2017


(Monday, August 28, 2017) At a time when “Zionism” has been criticized by the alt-Right and far-Left, nearly 100 representatives of Jewish and pro-Israel organizations gathered today, under the auspices of the American Zionist Movement (AZM), to mark 120 years since the global Zionist movement was founded.  As August 29-31 is the 120th anniversary of Theodor Herzl’s convening of the First Zionist Congress in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland this event was held at the site of the official Theodor Herzl Memorial, located in Freedom Square Park in Queens.

“In recent weeks, as we have seen Zionism attacked from Richard Spencer to the Chicago March, it is important that Zionists of all backgrounds come together in our united support for the State of Israel.  That is what we did today as we marked the occasion when Herzl first brought together a broad coalition of Zionists to build the movement which would lead to the establishment of a Jewish state in our ancestral land.  Today Zionism is very much alive as we connect Jews worldwide with our homeland and as we continue to support the vibrant democracy, culture and contributions ofIsrael and the Jewish people”, said Richard D. Heideman, President, and Herbert Block, Executive Director, of AZM.

Photo credit: Maxine Dovere








Photo credit: Maxine Dovere
(high-res available upon request)

Among the speakers were (Left to Right):

  *Galit Peleg, Israeli Consul for Public Diplomacy, Consulate General of Israel in New York
  *Herbert Block, Executive Director, American Zionist Movement
  *Dr. Esther Serok, Representative of the World Zionist Organization in North America
  *Ellen Hershkin, National President, Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America
  *Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis
Sarrae Crane, Executive Director of MERCAZ, served as the Chair of AZM’s Herzl in the Park program, bringing the spirit of Basel to New York.  Co-sponsors of the ceremony today with AZM were the World Zionist Organization, Consulate General of Israel in New York, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Queens Jewish Community Council, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.


The American Zionist Movement (AZM), including 25 national Jewish organizations, represents American Zionists in the World Zionist Organization and works across a broad ideological, political and religious spectrum linking the American Jewish community together in support of Israel.


August 28: Celebrate 120 years since Herzl’s Zionist Congress



Beit Ha’am Supplement – Pray for the Wellbeing of Jerusalem (PDF)

Or online:


Year of Zionist Anniversaries: Exodus Commemoration

Exodus 70 years

Exodus 70 years

70 years ago today – on July 18, 1947 – a seminal event in Zionist history occurred in the Port of Haifa, when the S.S. Exodus finally reached the shore of the land of Israel.  This ship, carrying 4,515 Holocaust survivors seeking refuge from Europe, had a harrowing week-long journey from France to bring new Jewish immigrants to Israel, then under the British Mandate for Palestine.  Along the treacherous sea voyage the boat was attacked by the British Navy and three passengers were killed and 147 injured.  After the Exodus ship arrived in Haifa its passengers were forced by the British to return to Europe in another horrible voyage.

News of the story of the S.S. Exodus reverberated throughout the world and helped turn public opinion in favor of the formation of a Jewish homeland in Israel.  It was just a few months later, on November 29, 1947 that the United Nations voted in favor of Partition, leading to the creation of the State of Israel in May 1948.  The late great journalist Ruth Gruber called the S.S. Exodus the “The Ship that Launched a Nation.”

The American Zionist Movement (AZM) is pleased to commemorate this historic S.S. Exodus anniversary, by sharing the materials below prepared by the Israel Forever Foundation (IFF), an AZM affiliate organization.  This outstanding compendium includes links to many articles, essays and photos on the S.S. Exodus, and a comprehensive “Journey to Statehood” informational booklet which can be downloaded here.

The American connection to the S.S. Exodus is significant, as it was an American vessel, originally sailing from Baltimore, which was purchased by American donors to transport refugees and its crew were American volunteers.  Today, in Haifa a memorial to the S.S. Exodus was dedicated, under the sponsorship of the Jewish American Society for Historic Preservation, in partnership with the Jewish Agency for Israel. AZM encourages all American Zionists to pause today to remember the significance of the S.S. Exodus and to share the IFF materials widely with your friends, family and colleagues.

Remember the Exodus: Support Zionism Today



Shalom friends,
Seventy years ago, on July 18, 1947, outside territorial waters near the coast of British Mandate Palestine, the British navy rammed a ship carrying 4515 Holocaust survivors with dreams of returning to our ancient homeland. This ship is forever known as Exodus 1947, their story forever a part of our collective experience in our fight for freedom, independence and our Jewish State.




Exodus 1947: History in the making

The war with Germany was over, but for thousands of Holocaust survivors, the fight for survival was far from won. The Exodus 1947 left France in the morning of July 11 carrying 4,515 passengers who could never envision the fate that was about to unfold.

Read More



The Exodus 1947: A global cry for Jewish justice

By Tamar Ben Tzvi

Global support for the plight of the Jews aboard the Exodus 1947 had a major influence on the Jewish connection to Israel and the move towards re-establishing an Independent State of Israel.

Read More



Names, Memories And Legacies:

The Meaning Of Exodus

By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman

The value of the Exodus story isn’t in its romanticism. It is in the impact it had on Jews around the world in understanding the need for a Jewish state, the fulfillment of the ancient dream that would soon become reality.

Read More



Children Of The Exodus

The lives of the children of the Exodus is aptly captured in the historical film created by UJA on their quest to trace what became of the children after they built their lives in Palestine.

Read More



Teaching Exodus

It is the transmission of memory – of the human experience and the events surrounding it – that will carry the legacy of the Exodus into the future. Now is the time to connect the next generation with the story of the Exodus and its significance as a step toward statehood. Come explore our resources, testimonies, discussion questions, and art activities to bring to your community now or anytime throughout the year.

Read More


Just as we inherit the memories of the Shoah, so too, must we learn from and transmit the legacy of the Exodus as a part of their story. We must know the facts, and understand the circumstances. We must teach of the passion which drove the volunteers, passengers and fighters to endure endless struggles toward the fulfillment of our ancestral dream. We must inherit their determination and imbue tomorrow’s youth with a shared commitment toward the continuation of our nationalist vision – to protect our land, our history, our heritage, our memory, our peoplehood, our freedom in our Jewish sovereign state.



Exhibit it at your synagogue, community center, school, camp or library.

Now or anytime throughout the year!

Exodus 70 years


Donate to Support Zionism in America


Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu 6/29/17

Click here to view pdf: AZM Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu






June 29, 2017

5 Tamuz 5777


H.E. Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister of Israel

3 Kaplan Street

Jerusalem, Israel


Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu:

As you know, the American Zionist Movement (AZM) represents a broad and diverse spectrum of Zionist organizations in the United States from across the religious and political streams of the American Jewish community.  We are united in our support for Israel and the unity of the Jewish People connected to the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital.  In the past we have strongly rejected the statements of UNESCO and others who wrongly choose to revise history in rejecting the rights of Israel, and the Jewish people, to our ancestral homeland and in denying the Jewish connection to Jerusalem.   

We emphasize in our work that Israel has long stood for the principles of providing, assuring and protecting freedom of and access to the holy sites for peoples of all religions in Jerusalem and its Old City, whose quarters are precious and holy to the great religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and the peoples of the world who share the Old City in the Jewish, Christian, Moslem, and Armenian Quarters. Indeed, for the Jewish community, the Western Wall, our “Kotel” – the holiest site remaining from our Temple, is more than a symbol, it is the centerpiece for Jewish communities throughout the diaspora and must be preserved in perpetuity and dignity for all Jewish people.

A full delegation of leadership from the American Zionist Movement and our organizations was in Jerusalem this week for meetings of the Jewish Agency for Israel.   They have shared with us their concerns as to the developments of this past week which have been elevated to near crisis level.  Indeed, we regret the decision of the Cabinet of the State of Israel on Sunday to suspend the prior agreement regarding expanded access to prayer areas at the Kotel for all denominations and practices within Judaism.  AZM is a member organization of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and we note with support their letter on this matter which was sent to you yesterday.

In our view, Mr. Prime Minister, it is imperative that the Kotel remain a place that represents the unity of our Jewish nation and faith.  The unity of the Jewish people, in connection to the land of Israel, is a key element of the Zionist movement, since it was launched 120 years ago at the First Zionist Congress convened by Theodor Herzl.  

We believe, Mr. Prime Minister, that this is a time for leadership and unity within the Jewish community.  It is not a time for actions that lead to further divisiveness that conquers our spirit, destroys our will, and sends a message to our enemies of weakness and lack of respect for own people, who must be free to worship in their own way and in a manner respectful of others. 

Therefore, Mr. Prime Minister, we appreciate the steps you have immediately and subsequently announced to lay a path for the Government of Israel to assure freedom of prayer expression at the Kotel and expeditiously move forward on plans for greater access to worship areas for all streams of Judaism.

We stand ready to assist in addressing these issues of concern to you, the people of Israel and the Jewish people.  Our commitment is to an approach to be taken, through the unity of our wide coalition of American Zionists, so that all Jews and Zionists feel and remain connected to Israel and its capital Jerusalem as we commemorate 50 years of the reunification of Jerusalem and approach and honor the upcoming 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.


RDH Blue Signature--cropped

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Richard D. Heideman                  Herbert Block

President                                       Executive Director


Zionist Membership Organizations: American Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry  •  Ameinu  •  American Zionist Youth Council  •  AMIT  •  ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America)  •  Aytzim  •  Bnai Zion  •  Hadassah – The Women’s Zionist Organization of America  •  Herut – N.A. •  Mercaz–Zionist Organization of Conservative Judaism •  NA’AMAT –  USA  •  Partners for Progressive Israel  •  Religious Zionists of America  •  Zionist Organization of America   Affiliated Organizations: Baltimore Zionist District  • B’nai B’rith International  •  Friends of the Israel Scouts  •  Israel Forever Foundation  •  Jewish National Fund   Zionist Youth Movements: B’nei Akiva  •  BBYO (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization)  •  Habonim – Dror  •  Hashomer Hatzair  •  NFTY (National Federation of Temple Youth) • USY (United Synagogue Youth)  •  Young Judaea

75 Years after Historic Biltmore Conference, AZM Launches “Year of Zionist Anniversaries”

Seventy Five years ago this week, in early May 1942, hundreds of American Zionists convened in New York City in Manhattan’s then-famous Biltmore Hotel for an extraordinary gathering (photo below). This assembly, at the time the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe were becoming fully known, has been recognized as the “Biltmore Conference” and as a seminal moment in Zionist history.   On this occasion, The American Zionist Movement (AZM), the federation of Zionist organizations in the United States, created from among those who convened the Biltmore Conference, launches a “Year of Zionist Anniversaries”.

Richard D. Heideman, President of AZM and Herbert Block, Executive Director of AZM, in a joint statement said: “From May 2017 until May 2018 AZM will mark a series of important milestones in Zionism and help inform Jewish communities and the general public about the history, relevance and importance of Zionism and its connection to the independence and vibrant democracy of the State of Israel.”

This “Year of Zionist Anniversaries” includes recognizing:

  • 50 years since the reunification of Jerusalem following the Six Day War in June 1967;
  • 120 years since Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland in August 1897;
  • 100 years since the Balfour Declaration was issued in November 1917 by the British Foreign Secretary;
  • 70 years since adoption of the United Nations Partition Resolution in November 1947; and, culminates with celebrating the…
  • 70th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel in May 1948.

Through this upcoming “Year of Zionist Anniversaries” AZM will conduct programs and events across the country about Zionism in partnership with its 25 constituent agencies and in cooperation with the broad spectrum of Jewish communal agencies.  There will be programs related to Zionism held with public officials, schools, synagogues, summer camps and with many community institutions and organizations.

It was at this historic Biltmore Conference 75 years ago, addressed by Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion (who would later in the decade become Israel’s first President and Prime Minister respectively), that 600 American Zionists issued the Biltmore Declaration which formally called for the founding of a “Jewish Commonwealth” in the land of Israel, then under the British Mandate.  This declaration also expressed the solidarity of the Jewish people around the world, especially with those suffering under Hitler in Europe, and expressed a desire for a future Jewish state to live “in full cooperation” with its Arab neighbors.  Just five years later, also in New York City, the United Nations adopted the Partition Resolution which lead to the end of the British Mandate and the creation of the independent State of Israel a few months later, immediately recognized by the United States and freedom loving nations of the world.

One hundred and twenty years ago the Zionist movement formally came together under the leadership of Herzl. Zionism is rooted in a belief stretching back thousands of years that the Jewish People have a right to sovereignty in their ancestral and indigenous homeland. It was at the Biltmore Hotel, then located on 43rd Street & Vanderbilt Avenue across from Grand Central Terminal, that the movement united in seeking the “fulfillment of the original purpose of the Balfour Declaration” to form the Jewish Commonwealth, now the modern State of Israel.  

Richard D. Heideman, President and Herbert Block, Executive Director of AZM said in their joint statement: “As we mark important milestones this year for Zionism, the Jewish people and the State of Israel, AZM has launched a platform of ‘Zionism Forward’ with the goal of reenergizing Zionism in America. It is a call to those in America who are committed to a better future for Israel, the Jewish people and Zionism to participate in a new effort to guide American Jewry to speak and act in unified support for Zionism and Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. In this Year of Zionist Anniversaries AZM will both recognize our roots and build towards the future.”


(click on picture to enlarge)

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AZM Fact Sheet

The American Zionist Movement

The mission of the American Zionist Movement (AZM) is to bring the American Jewish community closer to Zionism.  AZM, based in New York City, is composed of organizations and individuals representing a broad array of Zionist perspectives and engaging in a variety of philanthropic, educational and advocacy activities on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. In this capacity, the AZM carries out activities and programs in the US in cooperation with the World Zionist Organization and represents American Zionists within the National Institutions of Israel.  AZM strives to provide services and programming for member organizations, as well as serve as a catalyst for new Zionist ideas, a convener of Zionist discussions, an incubator of new initiatives, and is committed to the providing of quality Jewish and Zionist education to the next generation.

Known as AZM since 1993, the organization is the Zionist federation in the United States.  Twice in each decade, AZM organizes and sponsors the United States election of delegates to the World Zionist Congress, a process in which tens of thousands of American Jews participated and vote.  AZM is the successor to the American Zionist Federation (founded in 1970) and to the American Zionist Council which started in the 1940s.

At the AZM Biennial Assembly in March 2017, Richard D. Heideman of Washington DC was elected President of AZM and Herbert Block was appointed as Executive Director.   A theme of “Zionism Forward” as the goal and vision of AZM was launched in an effort to reenergize Zionism in America.  It is a call to those in America who are committed to a better future for Israel, the Jewish people and Zionism to participate in a new effort to guide American Jewry to speak and act in unified support for Zionism and Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.  

In 2017 AZM will be leading commemorations in the United States of major Zionist Anniversaries, including 120 years since Theodor Herzl convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel; 100 years since the Balfour Declaration; and, 70 years since the United Nations vote on Partition.

AZM sponsors the American Zionist Youth Council, which aims to bring youth together from across religious, cultural, denominational, political, and social divides to deepen the collective identity of the Jewish People and strengthen their relationship with Israel.

AZM’s has as its constituent agencies over twenty five member and affiliated organizations and youth movements.

View the AZMFactSheet as a pdf

Richard D. Heideman Elected President of AZM


Richard Heideman AZMNew York, March 6, 2017.
Richard D. Heideman was elected the new President of the American Zionist Movement (AZM), the American federation of Zionist groups and organizations, at the AZM Biennial Assembly in New York. 

Heideman, an acclaimed Washington, D.C. lawyer who defends victims of terrorism and has successfully won or settled cases worth billions of dollars against Libya, Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran and banks accused of funding terror. Recently named Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year for 2016, and a former President of B’nai B’rith International, Heideman launched his tenure with a program to improve attitudes towards Israel and Zionism in North America.

“‘Zionism Forward’ is my vision as AZM President. It is not about redefining Zionism, it is about reenergizing Zionism,” Heideman said in his installation speech. “We must return to the basics of Zionism, that which unites us all in this hall here today, and make it relevant to our families, our communities, our synagogues, our schools and beyond.”

“I call upon each of you and the organizations you lead – consisting of perhaps millions of people in the American Jewish community – in your way and through your leadership to join with me to work together, hand in hand, in the spirit of unity, solidarity and pride, to accept the task of rebuilding the good name of Israel, the good name of the Jewish people and the good name of Zionism.”

Heideman also spoke about practical steps that must be taken, beginning with a conference to combat those who seek to demonize Israel and Zionism.

“Our students must be equipped with the knowledge and confidence to defend Israel’s honor in the face of slander,” Heideman continued. “While Iran and its allies may fantasize over a ‘World Without Zionism’, we must strive for a ‘World With Zionism’, an ideology and cause to be celebrated.”

Heideman also drew attention to the United States’ upcoming decision whether to continue funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) when its current mandate ends on June 30, 2017. He criticized UNRWA as having “interfered with Israel’s efforts to build a safe and peaceful country for all of the people residing within her borders and her efforts towards regional development and security.” Heideman called for “presenting truth, evidence and proposing solutions” as mechanisms for change.

The AZM Assembly was jam-packed with discussions about Zionism and the State of Israel and its relevance to American Jewry, with Jewish and Zionist organizational leaders, diplomats, academics and religious leaders speaking on panels such as “Why Zionism is not a four-letter word”, “Talking about Israel: How to conduct an inclusive conversation”. “Israel: Center, partner or theme park” and “Effective Responses to Anti-Semitism, Anti-Israelism and Anti-Zionism”

During the AZM Assembly, Herbert Block was announced as its new Executive Director, succeeding Karen Rubinstein, who has provided decades of outstanding leadership and was named Executive Director Emeritus. Block was formerly an Assistant Executive Vice President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (“JDC”) from 1999 to 2015, where he was responsible for the Government Affairs and Property Restitution portfolios for JDC, considered the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian organization. Since 2011 Block has served as a Presidential Appointee as a Member of the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad, a position he will continue to hold.

Other AZM elected officials at the Assembly were:

  • Chair of the National Board, Dr. Francine Stein, Englewood, New Jersey
  • Vice President for Programming, Rabbi Paul Golomb, Poughkeepsie, New York
  • Vice President for Inter-Organizational Relations, Dr. Marilyn Wind, Bethesda, Maryland
  • Vice President for WZO Relations, Alan Silberman, Chicago, Illinois
  • Vice President for Development, Marlene Post, New York, NY 
  • Treasurer, W. James Schiller, Boca Raton, Florida
  • Secretary, Shelley Sherman, Great Neck, New York

Heideman succeeds Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, of Chicago, Illinois and was installed into office by Seymour D. Reich, Past Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Past President of B’nai B’rith International and Past President of the American Zionist Movement.

For more information, requests for photos, interviews and video link, contact Alicia Post at

The American Zionist Movement, based in New York City, is composed of organizations and individuals representing a broad array of Zionist perspectives and engaging in a variety of philanthropic, educational and advocacy activities on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. In this capacity, the AZM carries out activities and programs in the US in cooperation with the World Zionist Organization and represents American Zionists within the National Institutions of Israel. AZM strives to provide services and programming for member organizations, as well as serve as a catalyst for new Zionist ideas, a convener of Zionist discussions, an incubator of new initiatives and is committed to the providing of quality Jewish and Zionist education to the next generation.