As we move from the sweet days of Rosh HaShanah to the intense Day of Atonement, we cannot separate thinking of our families and Jewish communities in Canada from our sisters and brothers in Israel.
Are you still wondering why the Israel Reform Movement is important to us?
Whenever people ask me how they can support Israel in light of… – finish the sentence by selecting from among any number of issues: occupation, discrimination, religious inequality, conversion, Israel Diaspora relations – I always direct individuals to the significant work happening on the ground within Israeli society that adds an important alternative perspective to the media’s often negative narratives about Israel.
The vibrant Israeli Progressive Jewish community is the proverbial jewel in the crown of the Jewish state. If newspapers or other media outlets are your primary source of information about Israel, it’s easy to miss the extraordinary work of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) and its many affiliates, including IRAC profiled below.
The Israel Reform Movement, our partners in Israel, our agents on the ground, are creating a growing Jewish renaissance of Progressive Judaism while fighting for a pluralistic, democratic, just, and Jewish homeland based on Jewish values and the principles of Reform Judaism. How better to feel connected to each other than through our shared values?
As Canadian Reform Zionists, we have a role to play. You have a role to play. You can support IMPJ directly through donations which are so needed. And you can support IMPJ by ensuring that you and your fellow Reform Jews are all members of ARZA Canada. Increased membership increases our voice at the upcoming World Zionist Congress (WZC) 2020. Increased membership ensures continued support and funding from the national institutions to the Israel Reform Movement. Increased representation from world progressive Zionist organizations gives a voice for global Jewry on the issues dearest to us – pluralism, equality, justice, democracy and peace.
In our upcoming newsletters, we will be profiling some of the brilliant, visionary, inspirational leaders of the Israel Reform Movement. We want you to get to know them.
I wish you a healthy, sweet year for 5780, a year with shalom for Israel and all the world. May 5780 be a year that strengthens Israel as our Jewish, democratic homeland and a light to the nations.
Shanah Tovah and G’mar Chatimah Tovah,
President, ARZA CANADA
In Other News
Fighting Discrimination and Racism in Israel - Profile of Anat Hoffman
At a time when elements of Israeli society increase public displays of racism, and the ultra-Orthodox impose religious constraints on the general public, Israel's Reform movement is at the forefront of efforts to protect equality and tolerance.
Anat Hoffman is an Israeli activist and serves as the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the legal advocacy arm of Israel's Reform movement. Anat and IRAC are leaders in the fight for equality of gender and race in Israel.
A former member of the Jerusalem City council, Anat also is a founding member and Chair of Women of the Wall. In 2013, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz named her "Person of the Year", while the Jerusalem Post listed her fifth among its list of 50 most influential Jews, for forcefully and successfully bringing the issue of women's rights at the Kotel to the "forefront of the consciousness of world Jewry".
Anat has a long history of opposing religiously- imposed gender segregation. Enraged that in Israel there were bus lines that forced women to sit at the back of the bus, Anat and IRAC went to the Supreme Court, who ruled gender segregation on public buses to be illegal. You can read about it here.
Sitting at the Front of the Bus (from The New York Jewish Week)
Israeli ‘Freedom Riders’ Ensure A Woman’s Place At Front Of The Bus (from Huffington Post)
When Haredi men objected to sitting beside women on El Al flights, and asked women to give up their seats, IRAC obtained a ruling against El Al for asking an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor to change her seat at the request of a Haredi man.
And Anat herself was witness to the results when an El Al attendant told a male passenger, who insisted his female neighbour move, to "sit down, pay extra to upgrade to business class, or get off the plane". https://mailchi.mp/irac.org/eyewitness-in-the-sky?e=6e24a28713
And in another recent example, IRAC forced the disqualification of racist candidates from running for Knesset in the election.
Anat Hoffman was interviewed by the Canadian Jewish News during a visit to Canada in the spring. https://www.cjnews.com/news/israel/anat-hoffman-bringing-social-change-to-israel
Strengthening Liberal Judaism in Israel - vote in WZO elections
We can all help IRAC and Israel's Reform movement promote progressive values in Israel, simply by joining ARZA Canada and, if required, voting in the upcoming election for the World Zionist Organization (WZO).
The WZO distributes millions of dollars annually in Israel and abroad. The Israel Reform Movement gains influence and power in the WZO based on the number of delegates from Reform Zionist organizations, including ARZA Canada.
In short -- more members in ARZA Canada means more delegates in the WZO, more delegates means more power which translates directly into more money and influence for the Israel Reform Movement -- our agents on the ground!
The Power of Leverage
So make sure you have included ARZA Canada membership in your synagogue renewal or join online on the ARZA Canada Website www.arzacanada.org or mail a cheque for $18/person aged 18 years and over to ARZA Canada Membership, 3845 Bathurst Street, Suite 301, Toronto, ON M3H 3N2. Being a member in ARZA Canada strengthens Liberal Judaism in Israel by increasing our size and presence in the WZO.