WELCOME to the new MERCAZ USA E-Letter being sent to MERCAZ members and supporters. Information to Unsubscribe is available below.
MERCAZ USA is the Zionist membership organization of the Conservative Movement, the voice of Conservative Jewry within the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Zionist Movement and the Jewish National Fund to support religious pluralism in Israel and strengthen the connection between Israel and the Diaspora. Click here to see the MERCAZ Mission Statement. Click here to (re)join for the current 2012-2013 fiscal year.
SYNAGOGUE TRIPS TO ISRAEL Looking to join an organized trip to Israel? Click here for a list of upcoming Conservative Movement synagogue trips for 2012-2013.
MERCAZ PLANS NEW ISRAEL ADVOCACY SEMINAR IN LOS ANGELES THIS NOVEMBER MERCAZ is planning the third in its series of Israel Advocacy seminars November 4-5 in Los Angeles. Click here for information about the seminar. Click here to register. Click here for a report on the first MERCAZ Israel Advocacy Seminar held this past December.
MASORTI OLAMI KIYUM LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE Masorti Olami has opened registration for its next Kiyum Leadership Seminar, a one-week educational leadership seminar at Kibbutz Hannaton for young Masorti community leaders. The seminar will take place December 24-31, 2012 and is open to English-speaking Conservative/Masorti affiliated young adults aged 24-35. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MASORTI MOVEMENT PROVIDES KOSHER SUPERVISION TO ISRAELI WINERIES As reported in the Masorti Foundation's July newsletter, the Masorti Movement has begun providing kashrut supervision to small boutique Israeli wineries. The first winery to receive Masorti hashgacha is the High Desert winery located near Mitzpe Ramon. Click here for more information.
USCJ'S GEMILUT HESED PROJECT The United Synagogue's Fuchsberg Center in Jerusalem offers Conservative Jews visiting Israel the choice of meaningful volunteer opportunities based on individual interests and time availability. Additionally, the Gemilut Hesed Project collects supplies for distribution to various social service agencies in Israel. Click here for a description of the different hesed projects and for a list of supplies needed for distribution.
[Ed: Following the recent Israeli Supreme Court decision to invalidate the "Tal Law" on army deferments for the ultra-Orthodox, Rabbi Reuven Hammer, the former president of the Rabbinical Assembly and author of the 1987 Masorti rabbinic responsum on conscription of yeshivah students into the Israel Defense Forces, published this past March the following op-ed article in the Jerusalem Post]
"We again call upon the Knesset not to look for ways around this issue so that we will no longer have the situation in which some brothers go to war, while others sit idly by; rather all will share the burden, as the Torah envisioned.
It has taken 25 years, but the Israeli Supreme Court has finally caught up with the rulings of the Law Committee (Vaad Halakhah) of the Rabbinical Assembly of Israel regarding service in the IDF.
In 1987 the Law Committee issued two responsa, one authored by this writer concerning Yeshiva students and one by Rabbi Rafael Harris concerning women, requiring all eligible men and women to serve in the defense of their country, with no exceptions because of Torah study or religious observance. Now the court has adopted that same position from the point of view of civil law, ruling the Tal law unconstitutional and discriminatory for allowing yeshivah students to receive permission not to serve.
What took so long for Israeli civil law to catch up with religious law? It is sad and ironic that that those who claim to be the most observant of Jewish law are those who are blatantly in violation of it... "
Click here for the balance of Rabbi Hammer's article.
Click here and scroll to the Va'ad HaHa'lakhah English summaries, Volume 2:7, for an English summary of Rabbi Hammer's responsum.
Click here for Rabbi Hammer's original responsum in Hebrew.
Click here for the list of the Masorti Movement's "Principles" including "military/national service [that] are obligations that fall on every citizen, men and women alike".
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…