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March 6, 2020 in Rabbi Greg Harris
We have quickly become consumed by concern for coronavirus, COVID-19. Store shelves have been emptied of hand sanitizers and bleach wipes. I have heard of confrontations over face masks. Some public spaces are closing or limiting access. The best advice has been to wash your hands and pay attention to the CDC and Maryland Dept of Health web sites which are both linked here.
At Beth El, we have been proactive in planning contingencies for however events unfold. Let me remind you about the ability to participate in services via live streaming on our website. Click here to watch Shabbat morning services. Our congregational theme of Shmirat HaGuf, Caring for our Bodies, has taken on new dimensions.
As we continue to pay close attention to these events, let’s also occupy our time thinking about others things too – Israeli elections.
Not the Knesset elections but the World Zionist Congress (WZC) elections.
The WZC dates back to Theodor Herzl and continues to be influential today. The WZC meets every 5 years for elections and annually distributes approximately $1 billion (with a B) to Jewish organization in Israel and throughout the Diaspora. So being representing within this body is important.
There was a great article about the elections in The Forward titled, “Your guide to the World Zionist Congress elections, the most important vote you’ve never heard of”. Click here to read.
Traditionally, liberal branches of Judaism – Conservative, Reform and others, have been vastly underrepresented. That means ‘our brand’ of Judaism has missed out on significant funding which has poured into Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox institutions and programs.
Mercaz, the Conservative Movement’s arm in Israel, is part of a coalition of organization which support religious pluralism in Israel. This includes funding for Jewish non-Orthodox schools, prayer spaces like the egalitarian section of the Kotel (aka Robinson’s Arch), strengthening Israeli civil society and supporting a two state solution to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict, to name just a few key issues.
Voting is easy. WZC covers the cost of this global election with a slight charge of $7.50 (or $5 if you are under 25 years old).
Simply go to www.mercaz2020.org to vote for Mercaz and the Conservative Movement. To learn about other slates, go to https://azm.org/elections.
This is an important way for Conservative Jews to have a voice in world Jewry and in Israel. I hope you will join me in voting. Polls close March 11 so now is the time to act.