Israel at 60

Resolution Adopted by the CCAR

RESOLUTION ON ISRAEL AT 60 Ben Shishim L’ziknah “Attain sixty years, attain the wisdom of age” -Pirkei Avot

Adopted by the 119th Annual Convention

of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

Cincinnati, Ohio

April, 2008

As we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the establishment of the modern State of Israel, The Central Conference of American Rabbis once again affirms its commitment and the commitment of its member rabbis to the wellbeing of the State, Land, and People of Israel and to the furtherance of the Zionist dream.

In the last sixty years, the sovereign state of Israel has repelled foreign armies bent on its destruction and has been the target of numberless terrorists attacks on its citizens from within its borders and from without. Yet at the same time, it has absorbed hundreds of thousands of immigrants – Jewish and non-Jewish – seeking refuge, religious freedom and the challenge of building up the Jewish people in its own sovereign land. It has been a world leader in science, technology and medicine and has strengthened the Jewish lives and commitments of Jews across the globe.

We have looked and continue to look at Israel with critical eyes when it falls short of achieving its own stated goals as a democratic, pluralistic Jewish state; and when it institutes what, in our opinion, might be impediments to the achievement of peaceful coexistence with its Arab citizens and neighbors. And yet we look through the eyes of love and commitment, like members of a family who want only the best for those they love.

Sadly, sixty years since its first struggle for existence, Israel still faces intractable enemies who envision a world without the Jewish State.  Thus, our celebration mixes joy and sorrow, great pride in Israel and great disappointment that, despite Israel’s efforts, peace has not yet come.


We are disappointed as well that Israeli society has yet to realize  the justice and freedom of religion envisioned in its Declaration of Independence; for so long as an Orthodox religious monopoly is maintained and perpetuated by the state itself, neither justice nor freedom of religion can obtain in the Jewish state. We demand that government subsidies be given to all rabbis and all synagogues, regardless of Jewish stream, or to none at all. We demand that non-Orthodox rabbis in Israel have the same rights as Orthodox rabbis to officiate over conversions, weddings and funerals, and have an equal place on local and national rabbinic councils.

And yet, despite the lack of equal treatment by the state, we look with awe and admiration upon the tremendous achievements of Reform/Progressive Judaism  in Israel, chief among them being:

the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and its family of congregations which have brought so many Israelis into meaningful Jewish religious life;

The Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, which has, through its Year in Israel program, has brought more than a generation of American rabbinic, cantoral, educational, and communal service students  to Israel to strengthen their connection with the Land, Language, Culture and People of Israel, through its Israeli Rabbinic Program, has raised up generations of devoted rabbis who have and continue to transform religious life in Israel,

the Israel Religious Action Center which has not only asserted and  defended religious pluralism in Israel and the rights of the non-Orthodox streams but has also furthered the cause of social justice for so many of Israel’s citizens across religious, ethnic, and social lines;

The Leo Baeck Institute through its school and its many arms which have created and implemented progressive, innovative, yet deeply and Jewishly rooted Jewish educational curricula which are used around the globe.

Kibbutz Yahel, Kibbutz Lotan and Har Halutz, which have served as models for Reform Jewish communal living; and which, each in its own way, has served as a light unto the nations;

If Progressive Judaism fails to flourish in Israel, it will not be due to the intransigence of the Orthodox, but rather the unwillingness of North American Reform Jews to give the support that is needed to allow Progressive Judaism in Israel to seize this historic opportunity.

Likewise, we give due honor to members of the North American Reform movement who, through the years,  have made aliyah, for the commitment they have shown to the state of Israel and the Jewish People and for the tremendous contributions they have made both to our Movement there as well as to Israeli society as a whole.  As stated in the Platform on Reform Judaism and Zionism of 1997, we again encourage North American Reform Jews to make aliyah, while at the same time affirming the authenticity and necessity of a creative and vibrant Diaspora Jewry.

We note with pride the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the founding of ARZA, the Zionist arm of the American Reform Movement and the 50th anniversary of the Reform Movement’s NFTY in Israel program:

We commend ARZA on its many achievements and recommit ourselves to the common goal of strengthening the Israeli Progressive Movement and furthering the values of Reform Judaism in Israel, while strengthening the bonds between Israel and Reform Jews everywhere.

We commend NFTY as well for fifty years of devoted service and innovative Israel programming, which have planted within thousands of our young people an enduring connection to the Land and State of Israel, the Reform Movement, and the Jewish People.

Finally, on this important milestone in the history of the State of Israel, the Reform Movement, and the Jewish People, we once again call upon members of our Conference and our Movement to renew and increase their efforts

to bring members of our communities to Israel for meaningful experiences of Jewish/Israeli engagement and study,

to strengthen the ties between Israel and North American Jewry,

to increase support for our Movement in Israel, including MARAM, through CCAR’s Rav L’Rav initiative

to encourage our communities – Jewish and non-Jewish – to give Israel the utmost moral, political, spiritual and material support.

We are privileged to live in an world of which most Jews throughout history could only dream – a world in which the Jewish People is living in its sacred and historic homeland as a free and sovereign nation, speaking the holy language of Hebrew in its everyday life, providing a haven for the oppressed, and rewriting Jewish history – indeed rewriting Torah – for our own age and for ages to come.

We thank and praise the Holy One of Israel for the blessing which are ours and for the dreams left together to pursue.