Resolution Adopted by the
ANNIVERSARY OF ARZA
Adopted by the
114th Annual Convention
of the Central Conference of American
Omni Shoreham, Washington D.C.
the Association of Reform Zionists of America, or ARZA, was
established. It was the culmination of 50 years of growing
identification by American Reform Jews with the national aspirations
of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. One year earlier had
witnessed the founding in Canada of KADIMA, later to be known as ARZA
Canada, as a region of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
The establishment of ARZA marked a historic turning
point. Although a number of Reform Jewish leaders were among the most
prominent American Zionists, the Reform movement as a whole had been
indifferent, and sometimes even hostile, toward Zionism. By the time
of the formation of ARZA, however, it came to be almost universally
agreed that a personal identification with Israel and world Jewry is
essential to Jewish identity.
Since that time, ARZA and
ARZA Canada have had many significant and admirable accomplishments
some of which had previously been thought to be unattainable both
among North American Reform Jews and in Israel. ARZA s participation in
the elections to the World Zionist Congress has given Reform Jews a
powerful voice in Israel-Diaspora relations. In each of the last two
elections ARZA has won more than 40% of the vote, making its
delegation by far the largest representing American Jewry. As a
result, the Congress has gone on record as strongly supporting Jewish
pluralism; and the Jewish Agency has been allocating approximately $4
million annually to programs of the non-There are a Orthodox streams,
partially redressing a historic wrong.
ARZA and ARZA Canada have
played a leading role in increasing Reform Jews’ involvement with
Israel. Many of their members have made aliyah to Israel, where, among
other things, they established two kibbutzim – Yahel and Lotan – and a
Galilee village, Har Halutz. They have also helped to energize the
growth of Progressive (Reform) Judaism in Israel – a movement that now
includes 24 congregations, 48 preschool classes, the Tali Bayit Vagan
elementary school and middle school programs, the Tzofei Telem the
scout movement, Forum Tzerrim the young adult forum, the Leo Baeck
Education Center, the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of
Religion campus in Jerusalem, the Mercaz Shimshon cultural center, and
MARAM, the association of Israeli Progressive rabbis.
the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, ARZA also established the
Israel Religious Action Center, which has won significant legal
victories in its efforts to achieve Jewish pluralism in Israel and
equality for all Israel’s citizens.
In 1998, ARZA, ARZA
Canada and the North American Board of the World Union for Progressive
Judaism merged to form ARZA/WORLD UNION, North America. ARZA/WORLD
UNION is the tangible expression of the connection of Reform and
liberal Jews in the United States and Canada with their fellow Jews in
Israel and throughout the world.
ARZA/WORLD UNION supports
the institutions, programs and activities of the Israel Movement for
Progressive Judaism and the World Union for Progressive Judaism –
programs that promote Jewish identity and pluralism, and help to build
modern Jewish communities in Israel, the former Soviet Union and more
than 40 countries on six continents. At the same time, ARZA/WORLD
UNION educates liberal American Jews about the importance of Jewish
unity and peoplehood.
Today, with Israel facing some of
the greatest challenges in its history, it is especially essential
that Reform Jews, and all American Jews, stand as one with Israel. At
the same time, we must continue to support the growth of Progressive
Judaism in Israel and the ongoing work of expanding Jewish pluralism
and Israel-Diaspora unity.
Therefore, BE IT
RESOLVED, that the Central Conference of American Rabbis congratulates
ARZA/WORLD UNION, North America on the 25th anniversary of the
founding of ARZA and as well as ARZA CANADA (formerly Kadima).
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR commends the
farsighted founders of ARZA, particularly Rabbi David Polish and Rabbi
Roland Gittelsohn and its founding Executive Director, Rabbi Ira
Youdovin, along with those who have since served as ARZA presidents:
Rabbi Charles Kroloff, Mr. Norman Schwartz, Ms. Marcia Cayne, Mr.
Philip Meltzer, and its subsequent Executive Directors, Rabbi Eric
Yoffie and Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch. We equally commend those who have
served ARZA Canada: presidents: Rabbi Michael Stroh, Rabbi Dow Marmur,
Harvey Zimmerman, Mark S. Anshan, and Joan Garson. They have all
served our Movement with courage and distinction.
BE IT FURTHER
RESOLVED, that the CCAR calls upon its members to encourage members of
their communities to participate in one of the missions to Israel to
other Jewish communities being organized by ARZA/WORLD UNION in
cooperation with the UAHC and other institutions of the Reform
movement, and to participate in such missions themselves.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the CCAR reaffirms the resolution
adopted by its Board of Trustees in June 2001, encouraging each member
congregation of the UAHC to adopt a congregation-wide program to
promote membership in ARZA/WORLD UNION, particularly through the
“check-off” system of membership.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED,
that the CCAR reaffirms its pledge to assist ARZA/WORLD UNION in
raising funds in our congregations for the Israeli Progressive
movement and for Progressive congregations worldwide, to foster
personal relationships between the congregations and organizations we
serve in North America and the institutions of Progressive Judaism in
Israel and throughout the world, and to continue our work in support
of the College-Institute in Israel.