Mercaz: the Zionist arm of the Masorti movement
Our aim is to defend religious pluralism, democratic values, and minority rights in Israel. We also work to secure vital funding for Masorti Judaism’s educational work in Israel and around the world – including our campus programs!
Why does Mercaz matter?
Israel has always been central to Masorti Jewish life. However, as the modern State of Israel developed, the Israeli government refused to recognize Masorti Judaism. As a result Masorti rabbis in Israel cannot conduct weddings or funerals and, while Orthodox Judaism is funded by the state, Masorti communities receive no public money. In recent years, the government has gone back on its promise to create an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, and a Masorti rabbi was arrested for carrying out unauthorized marriage ceremonies.
Mercaz was founded to bring together Masorti Jews from all over the world and to give us a voice with the Israeli government. Mercaz is also committed to bringing Masorti Jews in the Diaspora closer to Israel by supporting educational programs for young people on Zionism, Israeli society, and Hebrew language.
What can you do?
Mercaz represents the interests of Masorti Judaism in the World Zionist Organization, a quasi-parliamentary body representing Jews from all over the world. The WZO provides crucial funding for Jewish education all over the world and, since the Israeli government only funds Orthodox institutions, it’s the only source of support for Masorti synagogues, schools, youth programs, and teachers.
Members of Mercaz are entitled to vote in elections to the World Zionist Congress – the international Jewish parliament. Elections are held every five years, most recently in early 2020. Growing our membership and turning out the vote means we elect more delegates, get more funds for our communities, and strengthen the voice of Masorti Judaism in Israel and around the world.
THE JERUSALEM PROGRAM
The JERUSALEM PROGRAM is the official platform of the WORLD ZIONIST ORGANIZATION and the global Zionist movement, having been most recently amended and adopted in June 2004, as the successor statement to the “Basel Program” of 1897 adopted at the First Zionist Congress convened by Theodor Herzl. The Jerusalem Program states that: Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, brought about the establishment of the State of Israel, and views a Jewish, Zionist, democratic and secure State of Israel to be the expression of the common responsibility of the Jewish people for its continuity and future.
The Jerusalem Program's foundations of Zionism are:
The unity of the Jewish people, its bond to its historic homeland Eretz Yisrael, and the centrality of the State of Israel and Jerusalem, its capital, in the life of the nation;
Aliyah to Israel from all countries and the effective integration of all immigrants into Israeli society.
Strengthening Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state and shaping it as an exemplary society with a unique moral and spiritual character, marked by mutual respect for the multi-faceted Jewish people, rooted in the vision of the prophets, striving for peace and contributing to the betterment of the world.
Ensuring the future and the distinctiveness of the Jewish people by furthering Jewish, Hebrew and Zionist education, fostering spiritual and cultural values and teaching Hebrew as the national language;
Nurturing mutual Jewish responsibility, defending the rights of Jews as individuals and as a nation, representing the national Zionist interests of the Jewish people, and struggling against all manifestations of anti-Semitism;
Settling the country as an expression of practical Zionism.