MERCAZ hosts Zionism Under Attack Seminar in Jerusalem

February 8th, 2024

The conference provided a platform for discussions and new perspectives on the challenges facing Zionism today.

The Zionism Under Attack Seminar, hosted by MERCAZ Olami in Israel from February 6-8, brought together 30 representatives from Masorti/Conservative communities in Canada, Chile, Argentina, Russia, UK, Hungary, Sweden, and France. The meeting purpose was to address challenges facing Zionism in the contemporary world and to foster discussions on the role of Masorti/Conservatives communities in supporting and defending Zionism.

On the first day participants engaged in a series of enlightening conference sessions conducted by representatives of MERCAZ and the Masorti movement in Israel. The sessions provided valuable insights into the historical context of Zionism, its significance in the modern era, and the contemporary challenges it faces. Attendees had also the opportunity to exchange ideas, share experiences, and deepen their understanding of Zionism's complexities.

In the evening, the group enjoyed a play centered around the life and teachings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. The solo performance by not only entertained but also provoked profound reflections on the role of Masorti communities in a world where anti-Semitism persists. It emphasized the importance of standing firm in one's beliefs and advocating for justice, echoing Heschel's timeless message of social activism and moral courage.

On day two participants delved into works of the National Institutions of Israel: KKL, Keren Hayesod, the Jewish Agency for Israel, and the World Zionist Organization. It was an eye-opening opportunity to understand their roles and contributions to our communities and Israel society.

With the upcoming Zionist Congress elections on the horizon, attendees gained valuable insights into the electoral process and the importance of active participation. They left with a deeper understanding of strategic campaigning and engaged in workshops to prepare for the elections ahead.

To top off an enriching day of learning, participants embarked on a delightful tasting tour at Machane Yehuda. From savory treats to sweet delights, it was a feast for the senses and a wonderful opportunity to explore the vibrant culture and flavors of Jerusalem.

MERCAZ seminar final day began with a powerful and insightful closing session on the next steps for participants in the upcoming Zionist Congress elections.

The group then headed to Tel Aviv when, after visiting the ANU Museum of the Jewish People and delving into its exhibits, they met with the families of the hostages at the Abducted Families headquarters and heard moving stories.

Participants met with Yaakov Bohbot, who spoke about his brother Elkana, who managed to help 2 DJs escape from the Nova party, returned to save more people, and was kidnapped by Hamas. The group also spoke with Itzik Horn, father of Eytan and Yair, who were hijacked from kibbutz Nir Oz. Itzik, who survived the AMIA bombing of Argentina in 1994, received a formal update that his sons had been kidnapped and were in Gaza just six weeks after the war began.

A ceremony followed by a prayer circle at Kikar Hachatufim (Hostage Square) with the Masorti Movement In Israel ended the day and the seminar with a moving and reflective experience.

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We are MERCAZ Olami, the political arm in the National Institutions of the worldwide Conservative/Masorti Movement, based in Jerusalem, Israel.
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