Richard D. Heideman Elected President of AZM

HEIDEMAN INTRODUCES “ZIONISM FORWARD” PROGRAM CALLING FOR A RENEWED SPEAK FOR ZIONISM AND A UNIFIED AMERICAN JEWISH VOICE IN SUPPORT OF ISRAEL


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 apost@azm.org

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.

Herbert Block Named Incoming Director of AZM

AMERICAN ZIONIST MOVEMENT ANNOUNCES HERBERT BLOCK AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO SUCCEED KAREN RUBINSTEIN, RETIRING AFTER DECADES OF SERVICE

 Herbert Block photoNew York, March 2, 2017. The American Zionist Movement (AZM) announced today the selection of Herbert Block as its new Executive Director.   Mr. Block will join AZM following the organization’s Biennial Assembly which will take place on March 5-6, 2017 in New York.  He will succeed Karen Rubinstein who is retiring after 40 years with AZM, has served as Executive Director since 1981 and will be honored at a dinner at the AZM Biennial Assembly on Sunday, March 5, 2017.   Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations will be the keynote speaker at the dinner.

Rabbi Vernon Kurtz, President of AZM said “We feel very fortunate to have recruited such an accomplished professional to succeed Karen Rubinstein, who has served AZM and Zionism with such distinction and dedication for nearly four decades.   Herbert Block comes to AZM from a long career in Jewish communal life and public service and will build on Karen’s work as the organization moves forward.”

Mr. 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.  Most recently he has been serving as a consultant, advisor and project manager for private and non-profit organizations in the areas of government relations, public affairs and international Jewish communal issues.  Since 2011 Mr. 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.

Previously Mr. Block served as Assistant Director for Intergovernmental and Public Affairs for the New York City Independent Budget Office from 1996 to 1999 and was Deputy Director for Intergovernmental Relations at the federal Corporation for National and Community Service from 1994 to 1995.  He was Assistant to the Mayor of the City of New York from 1990 to 1993 and a Special Assistant to the Manhattan Borough President from 1986 to 1989.

Mr. Block is a member of the Board of Directors of the Hebrew Free Burial Association and the Community Alliance for Jewish-Affiliated Cemeteries. He is the Mayor’s Representative on the Board of Trustees of the NYC Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.   Mr Block represents the World Jewish Restitution Organization on foundations in Poland and Lithuania addressing Jewish communal property restitution.  He received a B.A. from Columbia University and a J.D. from Brooklyn Law School.

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.

Prof. David Passig– Leading Israel Futurist– To Headline Biennial

passigProfessor David Passig, leading Israeli futurist, received his degree in anticipatory anthropology from the University of Minnesota. He specializes in technological futures, as well as social and educational futures. An Associate Professor at Bar-Ilan University, Passig heads the Virtual Reality Laboratory at the School of Education.

In what promises to be a challenging and exciting presentation, Passig will pose questions such as “does Israel need to establish a new national mission in order to survive?” Much of what he will say defies the usual expectations of those who prognosticate the future of Israel and the Jewish People.

Later, Sunday afternoon, the Assembly will grapple with critical issues facing the Zionist Movement.  Dr. Sylvia Barak Fishman will address the questions ” Israel: Center, Partner or Theme Park,” and Rabbi Josh Weinberg on “Why Zionism is Not a Four-Letter Word.”

The evening will feature a celebratory dinner honoring Karen Rubinstein who will be ending her nearly forty years of service to American Zionism.

On Monday, the Assembly will turn inward, inviting people to imagine the implementation of AZM’s new strategic plan and struggling with the ways to give substance to the plan to address major issues facing Zionism.

A thanks and farewell to Rabbi Vernon H. Kurtz for his four years as president of AZM in which he guided the organization through the future planning and the selection of a new Executive Director.

To see the draft program, please visit here

 

 

 

 

AZM Biennial Assembly and Celebratory Dinner- March 5-6

azm-biennial-final-copy2

 

AZM’s 12th Biennial Assembly,March 5- 6, 2017, is just around the corner.   A new president and a new administration will be installed.  AZM will say its thanks to Rabbi Vernon Kurtz and the other officers who served over the past 4 and half years. In addition, AZM will say “farewell” to Karen Rubinstein after almost 40 years of service.

Leading Israeli future, Dr. David Passig of Bar Ilan University, will present a challenging and provocative address to set the stagepassig for the Biennial; and for the future of the Zionist Movement in the United States.  Dr. Passig got his PhD in Anticipatory Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is the author of 2048  (English) published in May 2010 and Forcognito (Hebrew only at this time.)  In addition to Dr. Passig there will be ample opportunity to sample program offerings from Departments of the WZO, and to debate and discuss the AZM Strategic Plan and directions for the future.

The dinner will feature Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations., as well as others who have worked with Karen over the years.

Member organizations are asked to send representatives, but this event is open to the public and anyone who wishes come for the entire biennial, or for the Sunday night dinner alone is most welcome.  Please visit this page to make your biennial reservations.  

To register for the dinner and place an ad in the journal, visit this page.

As more details are available we will post them.  We urge you to register now and participate in what promises to be an exciting, informative and fun event.

To download and print outAZM Journal and Dinner Pledge Form

AZM BIENNIAL ASSEMBLY — COMING IN MARCH

azm-biennial-final-copy2AZM is holding it 12th Biennial Assembly, this coming March 5- 6, 2017.  A new president and a new administration will be installed.  AZM will say its thanks to Rabbi Vernon Kurtz and the other officers who served over the past 4 and half years. In addition, AZM will say “farewell” to Karen Rubinstein after 39 years of service.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. David Passig of Bar Ilan University who promises to give a challenging and provocative address to set the stage for the Biennial; and for the future of the Zionist Movement in the United States.  Dr. Passig got his PhD in Anticipatory Anthropology at the University of Michigan. He is the author of 2048  (English) published in May 2010 and Forcognito (Hebrew only at this time.)  In addition to Dr. Passig there will be ample opportunity to sample program offerings from Departments of the WZO, and to debate and discuss the AZM Strategic Plan and directions for the future.

The dinner will feature Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations., as well as others who have worked with Karen over the years.

Member organizations are asked to send representatives, but this event is open to the public and anyone who wishes come for the entire biennial, or for the Sunday night dinner alone is most welcome.  Please visit this page to make your reservations.

As more details are available we will post them.  We urge you to register now and participate in what promises to be an exciting, informative and fun event.

 

Join us at the Celebrate Israel Parade 2016

 

Please join AZM and march with us in the 2016 Celebrate Israel Parade

March with us and thousands of supporters of Israel up Fifth Avenue in NYC on Sunday, June 5, to stand up for and honor Israel.

This year’s theme is “Zionism: The Spirit of Israel”. Israel was built on the core values of Zionism and still proudly carries these values today. We are thrilled to be celebrating this beautiful country of ours during the Parade, along with other Zionists from all over the Tri-State area and other North American cities.

Please register HERE if you would like to march with us. The gathering spot, time and other details will be communicated as soon as we have them.

We hope you will join us this year for this wonderful event.

 

 

 

AZM- Herzl Beard Israel smaLL

 

Israel Programs Expo — Education Reimagined

 

EXPO Logo EYEThe first edition of the Israel Programs Expo will be showcasing the latest educational, academic, cultural and other innovative programs available to enrich Israel initiatives in your community. The exhibitors  in the Expo, will be either tabling to present their offerings, or doing short presentations as previews for their programs. They will be covering every aspect of Israel programming from instructional materials, technology products, language learning, and more. It will be the perfect chance to find out about all of the different Israel related initiatives available to local communities in the Tri-State area.

The Expo is intended for people active in their communities and professionals who are responsible for creating Israel-related programming in their schools, communities, synagogues, or other institutions. Attendees will be able to experience the innovative programs available to them, while engaging one-on-one with the sponsors and exhibitors.

 

To take part in this great opportunity, please register here.

 

 

Israel Expo 11:30:15

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AZM Biennial Assembly on Sunday, December 7, 2014

Save-the-date-AZM (3)The American Zionist Movement will host its Biennial Assembly on Sunday, December 7, 2014, at UJA Federation in Midtown Manhattan. The event will feature a review of internal AZM matters, a discussion of upcoming AZM and the World Zionist Organization programs and an update on the elections to the Zionist Congress.

​Professor Theodore Sasson of Brandeis University will deliver the keynote address about The New American Zionism. His remarks will be couched within his recent analysis of American Jewry’s Relationship to Israel before and after this summer’s Gaza War. He will address such questions as “Did Hamas rocket fire galvanize the world’s largest diaspora community and strengthen its connection to the Jewish state? Or did Israel’s tough military response divide American Jewish opinion and alienate the younger generation? In this lecture, Professor Sasson will present new evidence concerning American Jews’ responses to the Gaza war, and discuss general trends in their relationship to Israel.

Sasson’s broader findings, reported in his recent book, The New American Zionism, challenge the widespread notion that American Jews are distancing themselves from Israel.

Registration is required for the Biennial. There will be a fee of $50 for delegates and $25 for delegates under the age of 30.

Visit here to see the Program Registration will begin at 11:30 and the program will begin at 12:00 Noon. The Biennial will be held at New York UJA-Federation, 130 East 59th Street in New York City.

​Those attending the Biennial are also encouraged to stay for the regional meeting of the Zionist General Council, which follows the Biennial. That meeting will discuss programmatic opportunities, relations between the WZO and its diaspora constituents, and plans for Congresses and beyond.

 

Register for the Biennial here.

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.

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.