#WZC2015: Representing ARZENU at the Congress

Non-Stop Zionism is the theme of this 37th World Zionist Congress and you might think that's a straightforward concept and easily defined. If you think that, you would be completely wrong! The Congress theme, as well as almost every issue with which the Congress deals, is incredibly involved, complex and confusing! So in an effort to clarify, I will divide the entire three days of the WZO Congress into three separate categories.

    1. World Zionist Organization (WZO) Governance: At each Congress, the WZO leadership is elected and sworn in for the ensuing five years. This is a fairly perfunctory process. The actual elections and swearing-in ceremony takes place during a plenary session of the entire Congress. However, the nominating process takes place behind the scenes and negotiations are based on numbers of delegates and the power of the various factions.
    2. Educational Presentations: Two types of presentations occur during the Congress. First, as delegates we hear major addresses from Israeli dignitaries such as:
      • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
      • Leader of the Opposition, MK Yitzhak Herzog
      • Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat
      • Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky
      • Minister of Defense, MK Moshe Yaalon

      Secondly, there are wonderful panel discussions such as:

      • To Be a Free People in our Land
      • Responding to BDS and Anti-Semitism
      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu


    3. Resolutions and Constitutional Issues of the WZO: The Congress determines the WZO's direction and budgetary impact for the next five years. This process becomes more complex, exciting and completely crazy! Imagine an auditorium filled with more than 600 Jewish men and women from across the globe. Now imagine that every stream of Jewish life, political and religious, is represented. Finally, imagine that each person is a committed Zionist who believes passionately in the future of the Jewish people. Now, expand your imagination and envision those 600+ people actively debating and voting on 90 resolutions using individual electronic voting devices. You now have a sense of the wild, electrifying, and awe-inspiring experience! Although, at the risk of sounding trite, one cannot truly comprehend the Congress without actually being there.
WRJ Immediate Past President Lynn Magid Lazar voting in the WZC 2015.


I am honored to be here and because of the intensity of the experience, my mind is buzzing. The visual impact alone is quite amazing as the view from the auditorium stage attests. To the 'right' are representatives of the Likud and other Orthodox and traditional parties. In the 'center' are representatives of Kulanu, Hadassah, and other centrist parties. On the 'left' with our ARZENU (ARZA) delegates are representatives of Meretz and other liberal parties. My mind is also buzzing with the enormity of what we accomplished. Who could have dreamed that we passed a resolution favoring the establishment of an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall? With overwhelming support from all factions, we resolved to oppose hate crimes. And, again with wide support, we passed a resolution recognizing support of the LGBT community. We are clearly several steps closer to our vision of a democratic, egalitarian Jewish state. We head home with bittersweet feelings. I’ll miss my family here, as well as my international friends and colleagues. I’ll miss eating halvah for breakfast! On Friday, I'll miss the awesome feeling that the whole world is preparing for Shabbat. I do look forward to being home and sharing the joy of having been here "at home" in eretz Yisrael.

Published: 10/27/2015

Categories: WRJ-Israel, Reform Movement, Israel & Global Affairs