AMERICAN ZIONIST SHABBAT – שבת ציון

October 2018 – Cheshvan 5779

 

AMERICAN ZIONIST SHABBAT – שבת ציון

The American Zionist Movement is pleased to update for 2018 -5779 and share again the “American Zionist Shabbat” initiative which was launched last year.   This project continues during the period from Parshiot Lech Lecha (October 20th/11 Cheshvan) to Vayishlach (November 24th/16 Kislev), 2018-5779. 

Below you will see resources for discussing Zionism in synagogues, schools and the community during this period, including links to materials easily available on the internet.

In May 2018 AZM added a Jerusalem Shabbat Supplement in partnership with the World Zionist Organization and this addition is included here as well at the end of the Source Book.download-now-button

The American Zionist Movement has launched a series of programs in 2017-2018, which we have described as the “AZM Year of Zionist Anniversaries”. As we mark 120 years since Theodor Herzl launched the modern Zionist movement when he convened the first Zionist Congress in Basel, we will also celebrate major milestones this Fall during this Jewish year 5778. Therefore, AZM is launching a new American Zionist Shabbat initiative over the period of each Shabbat from Parshiot Lech Lecha to Vayishlach (October 28, 2017 through December 2, 2017). These weeks coincide with the Shabbat before the Centennial of the Balfour Declaration until the Shabbat after we commemorate 70 years since the United Nations Partition Resolution adoption (8 Cheshvan- 14 Kislev 5778).

AZM has begun this initiative, a resumption of the Zionist Shabbat/Shabbat Tzion program that AZM and the World Zionist Organization conducted in the past, in order to have greater dialogue within American Jewry on the significance of Zionism and its continuing relevance to our people and community. We hope that during these weeks, and commencing with the Shabbat of Parsha Lech Lecha – the journey of the Jewish People – Rabbis will speak about Zionism in their sermons, drashot and writings; day schools, yeshivot and Hebrew schools will connect their students to Zionism as related to the weekly Torah readings; and, that congregations, community organizations and Jewish institutions will share materials and encourage programs and discussions on Zionism.

AZM has compiled this initial Source Book, drawn from materials developed and shared by our AZM organizations and others, to each of whom we express our thanks and appreciation for their leadership and dedication, in order to provide a resource for conversations on Zionism during this period of American Zionist Shabbat. We will continue to grow and expand this guide and program through these weeks, and in coming months and years, and encourage others to share sources with us at azm@azm.org.

As we have seen Zionism attacked from various groups and people in America, it is important that Zionists of all backgrounds come together in our united support for the State of Israel as she enters her 70th year. That is what happened when Herzl first brought together a broad coalition of Zionists 120 years ago 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 of Israel and the Jewish people.

This 2017-18/ 5777-78 “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

Please share, forward and implement your own thoughts in celebration of Zionism and the America Zionist Shabbat.

The American Zionist Movement wishes to thank the leaders of each of the AZM organizations who have contributed materials, ideas and thoughts in developing the American Zionist Shabbat Sourcebook.

For Further Information, to make contributions of materials or resources, please contact:

Herbert Block, AZM Executive Director                                                        Alicia Post, AZM Program Director
212.318.6100 ext.6946                                                                                       212.318.6100 ext.6947

Chomer Ladrush for a Zionist Shabbat 5779

Rabbi Paul Golomb

AZM Vice President for Programming
 

The book of Genesis tells the story of a couple becoming a people.  After a narrative of primeval history – Creation, expulsion from the Garden, flood and Babel – the tale begins with Abram and Sarai and concludes with B’nai Yisrael.  How a married couple not merely initiates a multigenerational family, but rather creates an ‘Am, is a saga in the formation of an identity.  We see this development in both who is included and who drops out.

The story is told over four generations, concluding with the twelve sons of Jacob who will become the tribes of Israel.  Although we must bracket out the one daughter, Dina, whose fate in Scripture remains unknown, all of Jacob’s progeny participate in the covenant God first formed with Abraham.  The same cannot be said for the previous generations.  Ishmael and then Esau are left out of this particular covenant.  Why is that the case, and what may we learn about the formation of the Jewish people from their exclusion?

Ishmael is an elusive and enigmatic character.  He is introduced in utero, the child that will be born to Hagar the Egyptian, and yet will be given a name by his father Abraham that connects him to God.  He is observed by Sarah, after the birth of Isaac, “playing.”  (It’s meaning here is deeply ambiguous)  When banished to the wilderness, God hears his weeping, sustains him and his mother with water, so that he will grow to be a hunter, and after taking an Egyptian wife, fulfills his destiny to be the progenitor of a nation of twelve princes.  With a brief mention in the story of Joseph being borne to Egypt, the Ishmaelites disappear from Scripture altogether.  There is one other indirect reference.  After the ‘akeidah, Isaac goes to Be’er Lahai Ro’I, the spring associated with Hagar and her unborn child.

There is nothing in the scriptural references to Ishmael that suggest he should not be a recipient of the covenant God forged with his father, except the identity of his mother.  Ishmael is not the child of Sarah, but rather of her handmaiden.  Subsequent midrash will interpret Ishmael’s “playing” in a negative light, and also intimate that his status as an outdoorsman makes him unsuitable.  These are rationales.  In Scripture, Ishmael’s disqualification is his mother.

Esau, on the other hand, is every much a child of Isaac and Rebecca as is Jacob.  The text is much clearer that his absence from the covenant is due to his own deficiencies.  In my own reading, Esau failed not only in the spurning of a birthright, but was also incapable of personal growth.  Isaac preferred Esau as the oldest child, but also appreciated the “softer” qualities of Jacob.  He longed for each of his children to develop that which other possessed.  Jacob did so:  The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.  Esau did not.

In the next generation, all of the children carry on the covenant and become the people Israel.  This is so even for the four sons – Dan, Naftali, Gad and Asher – who were born to handmaidens, as was Ishmael!  All twelve nevertheless evidenced emotional and spiritual maturing as did Jacob, particular in the ten sons’ confrontation with Joseph over Benjamin.  Indeed, the Genesis saga of the formation of a people is sealed in the fifth generation, when Manashe and Ephraim silently accept the cross-hand blessing of their grandfather, Jacob.  The foreignness of their mother and the bitter fraternal enmity of the previous two generations are dispelled.

What are we to learn about identity formation from this saga?  First, that it begins with blood.  The covenant is passed on by both Abraham and Sarah, together part of the same extended family that made the journey from Ur to Haran to the Land.  Hagar was not on that journey.  Indeed, blood remains significant enough that Isaac’s wife must be from the same clan. 

It begins with blood, but it does not end there.  Esau, whose bloodlines are identical to Jacob’s, is nonetheless not found worthy.  The shortcoming is therefore not external – a matter of heritage – but rather internal – a matter of character.  He could not rise spiritually to the level of blessing.  Jacob’s children, irrespective of their parents, could.  None of them were saints; they showed signs of arrogance, jealousy and a willingness to dissemble.   They also proved in moments of crisis that they could transcend their flaws and display genuine courage.  The mostly dysfunctional family of Jacob is transformed into the people Israel.

The idea of identity formation that unfolds in the Genesis saga can be regarded in both historical and psychological terms.  A clan grows and spreads.  Over time the familial connections become less significant than other factors that hold the people together.  An individual, as well, understands oneself initially in relation to those who are closest, most often parents and siblings.  Then, in the process of maturing, the sense of identity through family is overtaken by new means of self-recognition.  Blood, however, never disappears.

Whether we employ the historical or the psychological model, we learn from Scripture, that our Jewish identity is not reducible to just one thing.   To be a Jew is not merely familial, or historical, or national, or cultural, or confessional.  I would also suggest that being Jewish cannot eliminate or fully ignore any of these factors either.  Yes, we all privilege some elements of our Jewish identity as more important, even vital, to us.  All the others remain.

The vitality of our Jewish identity is found in the willingness to embrace all the elements: family (mishpacha), people (‘am), covenanted nation (goy kadosh), obligation (mitzvah), and Land (Ha’Aretz).  Is there a hierarchy to these values?  Only, I would suggest, in our own choices of which touches us more deeply. 

A verse in Leviticus (26:42), nonetheless, captures it all.  In a promise of restoration after exile (the curses enumerated in parashat Behukotai), God says: Then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, as well as my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.  The covenant – that which delimits and defines our Jewishness – is not one thing.  It is at least three things; and the Lad!  To be a Jew can be nothing less.

 

Notes for a Zionist Shabbat 5778

Rabbi Paul Golomb

AZM Vice President for Programming 

What does it mean to speak of Zionism in a Shabbat d’rash or d’var Torah? I am referring specifically to an attempt to infuse a Zionist message into talk about the parashah, rather than departing from the text.

We should note first that drawing a Zionist theme from a parashah – any Torah portion – is not obvious. The Book of Genesis focuses primarily on those personalities that become the People Israel. It is a family drama, and the principal motifs that are drawn from its chapters often center on interpersonal dynamics.

The balance of the Books of Humash – Exodus through Deuteronomy – focus on Torah as instruction and the revelation that occurred at Sinai. Sinai, most significantly, is located in the wilderness, Midbar, a place that is nowhere, and therefore can be anywhere. And the revelation itself is inscribed on tablets of stone that Moses can carry down from the mountain. An extended stretch of the Book of Exodus is given over to a detail description of a mishkan, where the tablets will be housed in an Ark and the priestly administrations performed on behalf of the people will take place.  The principal feature of the mishkan is its portability.  It can go anywhere!

In the balance of Scripture, Sinai (or Horeb) is mentioned a mere nine times. After the first few verses of Joshua, Moses is not mentioned at all. As Sinai disappears, it is replaced by Zion, a fixed place where God and Israel may meet. The word “Zion” is not found at all in Torah! Tanakh is rooted in the Land, but Torah is not. Even the haftarot, drawn as they are from the balance of Scripture only rarely refer to Zion.

The reading of Torah and haftarah in the Synagogue is designed for a people scattered around the world. The foundation for the Jews is the portable scroll. Zion is an abstraction, a place set aside for a messianic time. Even though many synagogues have added the language that “it is beginning of the flowering of the days of the Messiah” in order to acknowledge the restoration of the Jewish State, Zion, from the Scriptural point of view, remains stubbornly in the future. What can we glean from our Torah readings that we may apply to today?

When reading Torah in the synagogue, the Land is rarely in the foreground, but it is always in the background. Consider the lives of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as narrated in Genesis. In the parashiot Lekh L’kha and VaYishlah, Abraham and Jacob have travelled outside of the Land, to Egypt and Aram respectively. They both have been impelled to do so because remaining is inhospitable. In Abraham’s case it is famine, for Jacob it is the enmity of Esau. While away, they both enrich themselves. Egypt and Aram have been very good for them materially. Yet, both return to the Land! What compels this return?

Isaac, on the other hand, never leaves. Poignantly, parashat Hayei Sara, suggests that he nonetheless moved away from his parent’s home and dwelt in Beer Lahai Ro’I, the spring associated with Hagar and Ishmael. Ishmael, Isaac’s half-brother, we are told, is both one who is free to roam far and wide, and also the prince of twelve nations. Isaac feels the urge to roam as well, and yet he does not. He steadfastly remains rooted to the Land.

In the characterizations of the three Avot, the Land is not a source of material wealth, nor is it the basis of emotional security, and yet it is an irresistible draw. From the tales of Genesis, we may conclude that the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel cannot be expressed in either a material or emotional bonding. It is deeper and more ineffable. Zionism is predicated on the notion that Jewish identity cannot be reduced to devotion to Torah or personal sense of relatedness to other Jews. Both are indeed essential and are the principal qualities that draw one to the synagogue. Inexorably, however, Jewish identity is also tied to a powerful, if occasionally elusive, tie to a particular Land. The tie is not the proverbial “milk and honey,” nor the innumerable songs of Zion intoned by the waters of Babylon, nor even the command and promise of the Eternal. It is found in the meaning of being a Jew.

A final thought: Each morning in traditional liturgy, this verse from Leviticus (Chap. 26) is recited: I will remember My covenant with Jacob, I will remember my covenant also with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the Land. The order, I believe, is important.  It is chronologically reversed, and thus reminds us that before there is Israel, there is the Land itself.

 

RESOURCE MATERIALS

Sermons of Rabbi Vernon Kurtz (Past President of AZM & Past President, Mercaz USA, the Zionist Organization of Conservative Judaism)


World Zionist Organization (WZO)

Links to selected parshiot:

Zion in the Sources: Yearning for Zion

Chagim Center – Home for the Holidays – WZO Department for Education:  https://www.eng.chagim.org.il/


Association of Reform Zionists in America (ARZA) 


Aytzim 

http://jewcology.org/explore/israel-zionism-middle-east/


Bnei Akiva – Cheshvan “Choveret Chinuch” 

http://www.bneiakiva.org/uploads/_pdf/ChoveretCheshvan5774BWsmall.pdf


Hadassah – The Women’s Zionist Organization of America –

Defining Zionism in the 21st Century – Link to various resources and video presentations:

http://www.hadassah.org/connecting-to-israel/defining-zionism/


Herut North America


Israel Forever Foundation

Links to each Parsha:


Religious Zionists of America (RZA)

Parshat HaShavua – featuring a different Religious Zionist rabbi each week from around the country to share a Dvar Torah.


Zionism – Reclaiming an Inspiring Word – Rabbi Alan Silverstein (President, Mercaz Olami, the Masorti Zionist Organization) 

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/zionism-reclaiming-an-inspiring-word/


New Light on Zion – A Sermon by Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove, Park Avenue Synagogue

https://pasyn.org/print/resources/sermons/new-light-zion


Zionist Organization of America

Statement on Genesis and the Golan Heights


Ameinu

Personal Stories of Zionism, Israel and Progressive Identity


The iCenter – Israel@70 Resources

https://www.theicenter.org/compilation/israelat70


Center for Israel Education Resources

https://israeled.org/resources/


Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

About Israel

 

MATERIALS ON THE YEAR OF ZIONIST ANNIVERSARIES

“2017 – Israel’s Triple Anniversary Year” published by the American Jewish Committee

https://www.azm.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/ISRAELS_TRIPLE_ANNIVERSARY_2017.pd 


2017: A Year of Anniversaries – by Martin J. Raffel

http://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/2017-a-year-of-anniversaries/


The strength of modern Zionism 120 years after first World Zionist Congress by Martin J. Raffel, August 2017 

http://njjewishnews.com/article/35064/the-strength-of-modern-zionism-120-years-after-first-   wjc#.WepGjRNSxTY


November 2 – Balfour Declaration (1917) Centennial Date

www.balfourinitiative.org

November 29 – Seventy Years Since UN Partition Resolution Vote (1947)

 https://israelforever.org/interact/blog/november_29_every_jew_should_know_about_this_day/

May 2018 – Iyar 5778

JERUSALEM SHABBAT – שבת ירושלים

The American Zionist Movement (AZM) is joining with our colleagues in the Department for Diaspora Activities (DDA) of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) to mark ירושלים שבת –  “Jerusalem Shabbat” on May 11-12, 2018 (27 Iyar 5778), Parashat Behar-Bechukotai (as read in the Torah in the Diaspora).  This is the day before we celebrate Yom Yerushalayim (on Sunday May 13 – 28 Iyar) and two days before we mark the 70th “secular anniversary” of Israel’s founding on Monday, May 14.

This is a continuation of the “American Zionist Shabbat” initiative which was launched by AZM in October 2017 under the “Year of Zionist Anniversaries” which culminates in celebrating Israel@70 in 2018.

Below you will see links to some resources specific to this special May 11-12, 2018 Shabbat and weekend, as well as the text of the Source Book for the American Zionist Shabbat which contains many appropriate general resources on Zionism. These and other resources are available from the WZO at https://myjerusalem.info/ and from AZM at www.ZionistShabbat.org.  

This is an opportunity for all to celebrate Jerusalem and Israel@70 (and our families, as it is Mother’s Day weekend).  This year we also recognize an important American connection to Israel and Zionism, as signified by the 70th anniversary of the United States recognition of Israel by President Truman on May 14, 1948. 

 

JERUSALEM SHABBAT – שבת ירושלים  – RESOURCES       

Note: click on each hyperlinked listing to open the webpage

Greetings from the Gusti-Yehoshua Braverman, Head of the WZO Department for Diaspora Activities

WZO-DDA Resource Guide “Beit Ha’am Z-Talks – My Jerusalem: An Anthology for Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)

ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists in America) – Yom Ha’Atzmaut – Israel Independence Day – Supplemental Readings

RZA (Religious Zionists of America) – Parshat Behar-Bechukotai: “The Holiness of the Land of Israel”

WZO Jerusalem Day Supplement

Israel Forever Foundation – Resources for Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day)

Truman Presidential Library – May 1948 Recognition of the State of Israel

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MOUNT HERZL MEMORIAL COMMEMORATION

 

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You can view photos of Mount Herzl and the set up of the Memorial Board here.  


READ MORE ABOUT MOUNT HERZL:




Size & Prices (for your plaque in Jerusalem):

One plaque:                             205mm x 80mm (est. 8.07” x 3.15”)                 $5,000

Double plaque:                       420mm x 80mm (est. 16.5” x 3.15”)                  $10,000

Double plaque (vertical):      205mm x 170mm (est. 8.07” x 6.69”)               $10,000

Quad plaque box:                   420mm x 170mm (est. 16.5” x 6.69”)                $18,000*
                                                                                                                     *Special for AZM donors



 
Plaques can be hung on the Memorial Board in Jerusalem within a few weeks of payment and visits to Mount Herzl for personal dedications or viewing can be arranged. 

You can purchase your plaque below or you can print the form and mail it with your check, made payable to:

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

 

Fill out my online form.

 

ESTABLISH A PERSONAL DEDICATION IN JERUSALEM 

At the Mount Herzl National Memorial

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CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR MEMORIAL PLAQUE TODAY 

Mount Herzl is the national memorial site of the Jewish People and the State of Israel. Interred on the mountain in Jerusalem are Theodor Herzl – the Visionary of Zionism, other founders of Israel, Prime Ministers and Presidents of the State of Israel, as well as Israel’s fallen soldiers.

At the heart of the mountain lies the Herzl Museum, dedicated to imparting the legacy of Herzl and Zionism to future generations. The World Zionist Organization (WZO), which is the guardian of Mount Herzl, has inaugurated a personal Memorial Board next to the Herzl Museum, providing an opportunity for people to commemorate their loved ones.

Personal commemoration on the Memorial Board connects the individual memory to the national memory of our community and land.  It is a poignant way to commemorate loved ones for generations to come – to connect their personal heritage with the Zionist vision and Herzl’s heritage.

Each memorial plaque to be placed in Jerusalem on Mount Herzl is available for a charitable donation of a minimum of $5,000 to the American Zionist Movement (AZM), the Zionist Federation in the United States affiliated with the WZO.  Your dedicated plaque contribution to AZM will support Zionist programs in America and worldwide.

For information about commemorating your loved ones on the Mount Herzl Memorial Board see below or contact 212-318-6100 ext. 6947 or azm@azm.org.

Balfour Centennial Resolution 11.17.17

HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY PASSES BALFOUR CENTENNIAL RESOLUTION WHILE
AMERICAN ZIONIST MOVEMENT MEETS IN WASHINGTON

(Friday, November 17, 2017): The US House of Representatives has unanimously passed H. Con. Res. 92—“Recognizing the deep and abiding friendship between the United States and Israel” and commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.  The resolution was adopted while The American Zionist Movement (AZM) convened its National Conference in Washington in honor of the Balfour Declaration.  AZM had promoted awareness of this anniversary among Members of Congress and advocated for passage of a Congressional resolution to mark the Balfour Centennial.

Richard D. Heideman, President of AZM, said “We take great pride that, at the same time as the American Zionist Movement brought together a broad and diverse coalition of Zionist voices in Washington the House of Representatives took decisive and bipartisan action to honor the 100th year anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. We thank the House Foreign Relations Committee, including Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Elliot Engel (D-NY) for quickly advancing the resolution out of committee. We thank the entire House for passing the resolution unanimously concurrently with our Conference convening in Washington. The House delivered a clarion call of united American support for Israel on this momentous anniversary.

The AZM conference, which is concluding this morning, took place during “Zionism Anniversaries Month” and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and the 70th anniversary of the UN Partition Resolution, two key events in the path to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

The three-day AZM conference featured a day on Capitol Hill with a luncheon paying tribute to Israel and its Ambassador Ron Dermer.  The AZM gathering was addressed by Ambassador Dermer, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Representatives Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Robert Pittinger (R_NC), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Ed Royce (R-CA), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Joe Wilson (R-SC), and Lee Zeldin (R- NY).  Video greetings were delivered by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (NY), Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks of the United Kingdom and attorney Alan Dershowitz.  Messages were also read from Vice President Mike Pence and United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.  Other notable speakers included Baroness Ruth Deech of the UK House of Lords; British Col.(ret.) Richard Kemp; Israel Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yossi Kuperwasser; Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman of the World Zionist Organization and Richard D. Heideman.   

The conference was convened in partnership with the Department of Diaspora Activities of the World Zionist Organization and the Balfour Initiative of the Israel Forever Foundation. For more information, including the conference program, visit www.ZionismForward.com.

 

 

AZM Washington National Conference 2017

AZM Con Web Header 2

The American Zionist Movement held our Washington National Conference: Zionism Forward in the Spirit of Balfour on November 15-17, 2017 in Washington DC, in partnership with the Department for Diaspora Activities of the World Zionist Organization 

(WZO) and the Balfour Initiative of The Israel Forever Foundation (IFF).

 

Conference videos below: 

*Click on 3-line icon on top left of screen below to see full list of videos*

The Conference commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and the 70th anniversary of the UN Partition Resolution.  Our gathering featured key speakers, panels and exciting events, including The Balfour Gala hosted at The Embassy of Israel, followed by a powerful day of sessions on Capitol Hill, featuring a Congressional and Diplomatic Luncheon. The conference concluded with the WZO Symposium on Diaspora Affairs.

 

VIEW SCHEDULE

VIEW: AZM Washington National Conference Program

 

HOUSE UNANIMOUSLY PASSES BALFOUR CENTENNIAL RESOLUTION WHILE AMERICAN ZIONIST MOVEMENT MEETS IN WASHINGTON

View the Balfour Centennial Resolution passed on November 17, 2017 

 

 


 

SPEAKERS

 

VIEW SCHEDULE

For more details contact azm@azm.org or call 212.318.6100 x6947

*Kosher Dietary Laws observed throughout the conference

 

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 28, 2017

WITH ZIONISM UNDER ASSAULT AMERICAN JEWISH AND ISRAELI LEADERS GATHERED IN NYC TO MARK BIRTH OF THE MOVEMENT

(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.

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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 17: AZM Denounces Richard Spencer Calling Himself a “White Zionist”

Press Release

August 17, 2017 –Today “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer said he is a “White Zionist” during a television interview broadcast in Israel.

In a statement by the American Zionist Movement (AZM), Richard D. Heideman, President, and Herbert Block, Executive Director, said:

“For Mr. Spencer to claim to be a Zionist is a gross perversion of what Zionism is. Zionism is a movement of unity and love which brought together the Jewish people worldwide to push for the creation of a democratic State of Israel in our ancestral homeland. The 1948 Declaration of Independence of Israel stated that the new nation, formed after decades of Zionist efforts, “will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions”. These are the positive values which AZM and Zionists today continue to espouse and strive for, especially as this month we mark the 120th anniversary of the founding of modern Zionism when Theodor Herzl convened the Zionist Congress in August 1897 in Basel.

‘In the midst of what we have seen in Charlottesville, where the alt-right marched together with white supremacists and neo-Nazis, carrying the swastika which symbolizes the evil genocide of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, it is a disgrace for anyone to claim a link between those hateful and racist protests and Zionism. As President Rivlin of Israel said yesterday: ‘The very idea that in our time we would see a Nazi flag – perhaps the most vicious symbol of anti-Semitism – paraded in the streets of the world’s greatest democracy, and Israel’s most cherished and greatest ally is almost beyond belief’.”

 

Contact: Herbert Block
212-318-6100 x6946

WZO BEIT HA’AM TISHA B’AV SUPPLEMENT

 

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

Or online: http://beit-haam.com/mitve-kotel.pdf

 

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

 

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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.

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DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE JOURNEY TO STATEHOOD INFORMATIONAL BOOKLET

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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BRING THE EXODUS EXHIBITION TO YOUR COMMUNITY

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.

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LEARN MORE!

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

Now or anytime throughout the year!

Exodus 70 years

 

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Letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu 6/29/17

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

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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.

Sincerely,

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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

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