World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel

The Conservative (Masorti) Movement is represented at the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) by MERCAZ/Masorti Olami.  At the beginning of November, the managing Vaad HaPoel of the WZO and JAFI both met.

Women’s League was represented in the delegation by past presidents Janet Tobin, (current president of MERCAZ USA), Gloria Cohen (recipient of the MERCAZ Olami award), and Evelyn Seelig (former president of MERCAZ USA) as well as Marilyn Wind, MERCAZ USA Vice President.

The strength of our delegation is directly related to the number of delegates that we elected to the last World Zionist Congress. Both meetings dealt with how to get more young people involved in Zionist leadership and how to combat the negative response that the word “Zionism” provokes.

There were two resolutions of particular interest to us. The first urged the government of Israel to adopt the Sharansky proposal for the Western Wall with these specific requests:

  1. The expansion of the site to include a third large egalitarian prayer section standing beside the men’s and women’s sections
  2. A common entrance to the three sections
  3. Access to the egalitarian section 24 hours a day, every day of the week, free or charge
  4. Joint management of the Western Wall site by representatives of all streams of Judaism.
The second resolution called upon the government of Israel to pass legislation allowing for freedom of marriage including civil marriage for couples coming from different religions and for same-sex couples and recognition of religious marriages by all the streams. These two resolutions passed after much discussion by at least 75% of the voting delegates.