The Union of American Hebrew Congregations The Synagogue Arm of Reform Judaism
On the World Reform Appeal and the ARZA/World Union Merger from Rabbi Eric Yoffie
June 10, 1998
I write to you as many are about to take a much needed summer break from what has been, I am sure, a very hectic year. When we convened in Dallas last fall for our Biennial I gave you two important messages. I told you that I firmly believe that Torah is at the center of our movement and that we must make a commitment to support our movement around the world with very special focus on Israel and the Former Soviet Union. During the past year, I have received numerous requests for us to consolidate our efforts in order to provide one, movement-wide effort in order to fund our efforts outside North America.
To that end, I strongly encouraged the merger between the Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) and the North American Board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) to ensure that we had no overlap of activity and to establish one address for all fundraising for the Reform movement outside the United States. September 10-13, in New York City, will mark the founding convention to celebrate the merger of ARZA and the North American Board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Highlights of this history-making convention will be the International Humanitarian Awards Dinner, honoring Rabbi Jerome Davidson and Leah Rabin and the launching of one of the boldest and most exciting campaigns the Jewish world has seen. This fundraising endeavor will be under the auspices of the reorganized entity which will be known as ARZA/World Union and will reach out to every liberal Jew in the United States and Canada. The need for funding for our international movement - especially Israel and the Former Soviet Union - is crucial at this time.
In Israel, we have 24 congregations and only four of them have their own buildings. We have received allocations of land to build five new community centers and to expand two of our existing facilities. Our needs for physical growth are desperate because every place where we have succeeded in building a physical home, we have resounding success. Our programs cannot flourish unless they have a physical home. We offer exciting programming focused in five major areas: Education, Youth, Community Outreach, Immigration and Advocacy. Every pre-school class is oversubscribed. In our congregations with buildings, there are waiting lists for dates for B'nai Mitzvah. Despite the fact that a Reform rabbi's officiation is still not recognized by the Israeli government, over five weddings a week are celebrated under Reform auspices.
In the Former Soviet Union, there is a miraculous renewal of Jewish life. Forty congregations currently serve thousands of FSU Jews and the potential exists to touch hundreds of thousands of Jewish lives. Programs such as summer camps for teenagers, leadership development seminars and the training of students to become rabbis and cantors will form the infrastructure to realize the great possibilities in the FSU.
The demand for a liberal, progressive, welcoming form of Judaism - Reform Judaism -is being felt around the world. In nearly 40 countries, the need for a strong movement presence only grows. And we must answer the demand. ARZA/World Union is coordinating all of the elements of the campaign but we need every one of you to launch it for us this fall. When you stand before your 1,500,000 affiliated Reform Jews in North America tell them about this bold, new campaign. You will be the one who can encourage them to accept responsibility for Jewish continuity and make this endeavor a success.
There has been much discussion in the Jewish world over the last few years about whom to trust to fund our movement in Israel and around the world. You and your congregants have asked the ARZA and World Union offices how a donor can be sure that his/her philanthropic dollars will go directly to Reform institutions. There is now an answer to these questions. There is now one address for people to remember. This fall will see the inauguration of this new movement-wide fundraising campaign and your involvement is crucial if we are to succeed.
Included is a memo from the professional and lay leadership of ARZA and the North American Board outlining the preliminary strategy for implementing this new campaign. Over the summer you will receive more information from the ARZA/World Union office. I wish you a refreshing and restful summer.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie President, UAHC
June 10, 1998
ALL UAHC CONGREGATIONAL RABBIS
Rabbi Ammi Hirsc Rabbi Cliff Kulwin Philip Meltzer Jerry Tanenbaum
The launching of the new fundraising campaign for the international movement
We hope that you will take time this summer to recharge your batteries because when this fall arrives we all have an enormous amount of work to do. While we are still working on the best name for this bold new campaign, we have every confidence that it will be an extraordinary success if you help us implement our strategy.
By August, you will be getting a sample sermon, talking points and an order form for brochures to be distributed to your congregations for the High Holy Days. You will also receive a camera ready news article for each of your temple bulletins, an article to be distributed to each of your local Jewish federation newspapers and a suggested cover letter for a congregational mailing. Our hope is to receive as much publicity about the new campaign as possible.
We cannot afford to fail - we must reach every progressive Jew with the message of our new campaign - our brothers and sisters around the world are counting on us. Together, we shall prevail.
Please fill out the enclosed form to order campaign brochures.
Our best wishes for a wonderful summer.
PS: Don't forget that ARZA/World Union Membership will continue and will be more important than ever. It constitutes the backbone of our efforts!
WORLD REFORM APPEAL 633 Third Avenue New York, NY 10017-6778 212-650-4280, fax: 212-517-7968