Securing Israel's Moral Strength
by Rabbi Ehud Bandel
The Masorti Movement is, without a doubt, a success
story. With more than 50 communities throughout Israel,
it has been relaying the message of Conservative Judaism
to the grass roots of Israeli society for 23 years.
Its impressive achievements prove that it is a viable
form of living Judaism, breaking the Orthodox stranglehold
on religion in Israel and showing that there is more
than one way to be Jewish. Not yet recognized by State
law, the Movement has nevertheless made many inroads
into the political and judicial systems. It has developed
tools with which to fight discrimination, the success
of which can be seen in the growing acceptance of Masorti
Judaism in the country.
A most significant achievement has been the "Israelification"
of the Masorti Movement. Established in the 70s
mainly by olim from English-speaking countries,
today our professional and voluntary leadership comprises
mainly Sabras (native Israelis) and Latin American olim.
Masorti today is a deep-rooted national organization
speaking to Israelis in their own language.
Notwithstanding our many successes, we have failed
in one area: to bring the message of our vibrant Movement
to North American Conservative Jewry. We have failed
to recruit the American Conservative Movement in ensuring
the continuation and prosperity of the Masorti Movement
in Israel. Despite the millions of dollars pouring into
the country and Diaspora Jewrys generous response
to the matzav (security situation), the Masorti
Movement still finds itself in a daily battle for financial
survival. The time has now come to make strategic changes
in order to strengthen the cooperation between the Conservative
and Masorti organizations.
One of our biggest challenges to ensure the continuity
of Masorti / Conservative Judaism at present is encouraging
Masorti Aliyah. As a person who owes his Jewishness
to the encounter with Conservative olim from
North America, I am well aware of the great influence
that 100,000 Conservative olim from Tnuat AM
could have on Israeli society. In order to attract these
olim and until they arrive, we must, in the meanwhile,
work to ensure the growth and welfare of the Masorti
Movement in Israel.
Besides aliyah, there are many ways in which
Conservative Jews can and do show their support for
Israel and Masorti. The numerous solidarity missions,
close contacts with Masorti congregations and national
programs, contributing to the Masorti Foundation, even
the simple act of joining MERCAZ
USA*, all these help strengthen the Movement in
Conservative Judaism has always cared for Klal Yisrael,
teaching that the good of the majority surpasses narrow
and parochial interests. Since Solomon Schechter published
his famous declaration, "Zionism: A Statement"
(1906), we have formed the vanguard of supporters of
Zionism and the Jewish State. Masorti wishes to reinforce
its message amongst Conservative Jews and offer them
an appropriate channel for showing their support for
Israel and playing a roll in fashioning the character
of the Jewish State.
Concern for the Masorti Movement should not be viewed
as just a parochial interest by Conservative Jewry in
the Diaspora. On the contrary and particularly in these
times of national difficulty, ensuring the strength
and viability of Masorti Judaism in Israel is in the
interest of Israeli society and a direct contribution
to the well-being of Klal Yisrael.
We are, in fact, talking about
our chief preoccupation: security. Security is not only
guns and tanks, but also the very moral strength of
the nation, the understanding of why we are here and
why we should continue, despite the hardships.
As the prophet Zechariah says (4,6), "Not
by might, nor by power, but by My spirit said
the Lord of Hosts." Without the spirit,
without the strong feeling of Jewish identity, there
will be nobody to hold the gun.
The Masorti Movement is security securing the
Jewish soul of the Jewish State, securing Israels
spiritual future. If we are truly anxious for Israels
security, we must not only help maintain its material
and defense requirements, but also its spiritual needs
the secret of Jewish existence.
Its all about security securing the spiritual
future of Israel.
Top of page |
Newsletter main page | Spring
2003 main page