ARZA ACHIEVES OVERWHELMING VICTORY IN WZO ELECTIONS
March 7--ARZAs victory in the elections for the World Zionist Congress sends a strong message that American Jews are committed to Jewish state that is committed to religious pluralism, leaders of the Movement said after learning of the 38% of the vote carried by ARZA. With 22 days remaining before Israelis go to the polls, American Jews cast their vote in the World Zionist Congress. Voters chose overwhelmingly in favor of the Reform Movement, surpassing 11 other parties including both the Conservative and Orthodox movements. This was a historical victory as ARZA carried the largest proportional percentage in the election.
ARZAs win would not have been possible without the commitment of the Reform Movement, supported by the professional staff of the URJ. In the field, clergy and professionals rallied their congregations behind the cause, lay leaders dedicated time and energy into phone calls, mailings and organizing the campaign on both local and national levels. Roger and Iris Rochman, ARZA Board members, volunteered hours of their time to call Reform Jews across Texas and Oklahoma. Rabbi Bob Orkand, Rabbi at Temple Israel in Connecticut, was integral in spreading the message to the Reform Rabbinic Community. He has made hundreds of phone calls to Rabbis helping to prepare them to promote the elections.
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said, We take great pride in the success of the Reform movement in the just concluded WZO election. It demonstrates that our messagelove of Israel, devotion to Zionist ideals, and commitment to policies of moderation and religious pluralism in the Jewish statehas become the dominant voice of American Zionism.
Rabbi Stanley M. Davids, President of ARZA, stated: ARZAs clear victory in this election strengthens the hands of all of us who believe that a pluralistic, democratic, Jewish State of Israel represents the highest expression of Zionist ideals. American Reform Zionists now can be expected to pursue this vision with even greater effectiveness and with broader support than ever before, in full partnership with the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and with our Reform Zionist partners throughout the world. The true victor here is none other than the Jewish people itself.
Following this victory, ARZA plans to capitalize on the Reform Movements success. ARZA is going to the World Zionist Congress in June aiming to create partnerships and support structures in order to further the aims of Reform Judaism. Spreading the message of support for Reform Judaism will surely have an impact in Israel as well as in the United States. The overwhelming outpouring of support for Reform Judaism will ensure support for Reform institutions in Israel.
While this is most assuredly a victory for ARZA and the Reform Movement, low registration numbers signify a marked lack of engagement with Israel on the part of American Jews. The Reform Movement won a battle in that that this vote shows that most Jews engaged with Israel identify with ARZA and the Reform Movement. We must fight the war by continuing to engage more American Jews in Israel and Zionism.