March 2015 Issue

World Zionist Congress Elections

I hope all of you have voted. If you haven’t yet, please take a few minutes and go and vote for MERCAZ, which is slate#2. Particularly as a result of the elections in Israel, it is important that the Conservative/Masorti Movement send a large delegation to the World Zionist Congress. We want to be able to make it clear that we support an Israel that reflects our values.

Also, we encourage you to add a fifth question to your seder this year. Encourage all those at your seder to vote. THE FREEDOM TO BE ME – A FIFTH QUESTION FOR THE SEDER: Why is this year different from other years? Because a World Zionist Congress will be taking place this year, and we have the ability to cast our vote for a different kind of Israel, one that is infused more fully with the values of pluralism, democracy, egalitarianism, social justice, environmentalism and the pursuit of peace.

Click here to download the new Fifth Question for the Seder

Message from Rabbi Paul Freeman (Chair United Synagogue Israel Committee):

We’ve been encouraging you to vote MERCAZ – Slate #2 in WZC elections.

We’ve been asking you to have your members vote MERCAZ-Slate #2 in the WZC elections.

Here’s an added opportunity – a way to make new votes provide support to Israel’s Lone Soldiers!

Please pass this along to members, family and friends.

Go to, click the “Vote Now” button, follow the instructions, and vote MERCAZ, Slate #2.

Go to and complete the form. Then ask all your friends to follow steps 1 and 2!

Registering your vote helps us raise up to $10,000! Let’s not leave that money on the table!

The deadline for participating is midnight April 30. Any synagogue having more than 50 votes can direct how to apply to help Lone Soldiers. Of course we will offer suggestions, as well.

You have a double opportunity to do good. Support MERCAZ – Slate #2 AND let these young men and women know how much you care.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA)

Statement about the Israeli elections and tensions between the United States and Israel

Women’s League for Conservative Judaism is represented on the board of directors of the JCPA. The following statement was released by the JCPA after its meeting in March:

The aftermath of the Israeli elections has been extraordinarily difficult for supporters of Israel. There has been no shortage of partisan rancor related to the Prime Minister’s speech at a joint session of Congress, negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program, comments made during the Israeli election and the reaction to those comments.

There are strong, passionately felt, and often sharply competing narratives within the Jewish community regarding these issues. Some are critical of the American President, and others of the Israeli Prime Minister. These differences will come into play again when we hear whether a framework agreement has been reached between the P5+1 nations and Iran. Undoubtedly, there will be challenges for the Jewish community, either way. Additionally, many of us are still feeling the effects of the summer war in Gaza and are anxiously anticipating the resulting UN report, which will likely prove to be problematic. These are times that try our souls.

As community relations leaders, we must take a step back and acknowledge that the continuation and escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Israel have the potential to do harm to our historic special relationship. Now is the time to engage in respectful dialogue with all those who care about the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. While it may not be realistic to strive for unity, we must try to create a climate of civility and mutual respect for competing views, and we must help members of our community to take a deep breath and act strategically. Friends of both the American and Israeli administrations should communicate in a positive fashion with leaders in both countries to implore them to take steps to reduce tensions.

In your conversations, you should reflect the following principles:

The JCPA maintains its position: the organized American Jewish community should affirm its support for two independent, democratic and economically viable states — the Jewish State of Israel and a State of Palestine — living side-by-side in peace and security.

Much as we would condemn racially-based electioneering in our own or any other country, the JCPA registers its opposition to this choice of language during the Israeli elections and similarly welcomes the apology that followed.

We hope that all parties will acknowledge two salient decisions made recently by the Israeli government: to transfer tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and to freeze construction in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Homa.

We support the unprecedented efforts by the last two Likud-led governments to augment economic development in the Arab sector, with particular emphases on increasing employment opportunities and improving access to higher education.

We are concerned by some comments made by President Obama and other administration officials in the aftermath of the elections and are specifically concerned about the prospect of diminished American diplomatic support at the United Nations. We are pleased that the President clarified: “When I said that we have to now do an evaluation of where we are, it’s not in reference to our commitment to Israel’s military edge in the region, Israel’s security, our intelligence cooperation, our military cooperation. That continues unabated.”

The differences in opinion over how to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons are real and we must have a substantive conversation about them.  That conversation is best shaped in a way that addresses the serious policy issues at stake without devolving into partisan language.  While we may differ on what the best tactics are, we all are united in our determination to keep Iran from obtaining the capability to produce nuclear weapons.

We have been in difficult situations before vis-à-vis Israel and its relations with the American government, but the Israeli-American alliance always emerges intact. As Congressional Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) said at a dinner arranged for Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer to connect with Democratic members of Congress: “What people need to do right now is read a little bit of history, take a deep breath and relax, because every administration has had moments of tension with Israel, and it’s always forgotten.”

We must look to those in our communities who have strong relationships with the incoming Israeli administration and/or strong relationships with the Obama administration to ask both sides to strive for a cooling-off period. We need time to heal so that Israel, America, and American Jews can rededicate ourselves to nurturing and building our historic and mutually beneficial partnership.

We ask the Israeli government to support bilateral negotiations toward a two-state solution and to continue to deepen its efforts to achieve equal opportunity for all of its citizens. We are equally clear that the U.S. Administration should chart a positive course for relations with Israel; this is an essential component of all efforts to foster peace and stability in the region.


At the JCPA Task Force meetings on March 23, 2015, a panel on domestic and global anti-Semitism presented some frightening statistics. One of the speakers compared anti-Semitic attacks in France and the United Kingdom to those in the United States over the past seven years.  France averaged 77 attacks/year, putting French Jews 40 times more at risk of an attack than an American Jew. The United Kingdom averaged 81 attacks/year putting British Jews 75 times more at risk of an attack than an American Jew. There was considerable discussion about the historical roots of anti-Semitism in Europe.  In the US anti-Semitism is class based and political.

Part of the discussion focused on cyber hate and some of the difficulties dealing with it. The Anti-Defamation League has put together guidelines of how to deal with this kind of attack. It is clear that education is very important and that actions need to be taken on a state by state basis to get schools to deal with prejudice, the Holocaust and genocide.  The guidelines can be downloaded here.

Report from our UN delegates

On this final day (March 20, 2015) of the UN Commission on the Status of Women meetings in NY, I am sorry to report that the Commission once again adopted its annual  political resolution condemning Israel on its treatment of Palestinian women. The text of the Resolution, introduced by South Africa and sponsored by the G77 and China is found by clicking here.

Nelly Shiloh, Israel’s representative to the CSW, delivered the excellent response in English and in Arabic. The US voted against the resolution. The EU and Japan made a statement and abstained. The final vote was: 27 Yes; 2 No and 13 Abstentions.