Rabbi's Weekly Message

Rabbi's Message

We have a unique combination of American and Jewish identity emerging in the coming weeks. 

Every five years, the World Zionist Organization  has elections, open to anyone around the globe who is 18 or older and identifies as Jewish, to determine the percentages from different groups who will participate in the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. 

This may seem like a technical or even obscure matter, a relic from history.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The World Zionist Congress dates back to the 1890s, and has continued to do important work ever since.  Obviously, since 1948, the Knesset governs the modern state and provides structure and support for the functioning of the country.  The WZC works to provide support in significant ways, enabling the diaspora Jewish population to maintain the special relationship with Israel.  The Congress is the only democratically elected body serving World Jewry. As the governing body of the World Zionist Organization (WZO), Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the Jewish Agency for Israel, the direction of some of Israel’s main institutions will be influenced by this election.

Our Reform movement is one of 13 slates running in the election.  We were quite successful in the last election, and the result was an increase in support for progressive, inclusive, egalitarian policies and practices.  We need to participate in a robust way in this election cycle to ensure that the funding and support continues for our values.

The special intersection of American and Jewish identity comes in the timing of the election.  The election runs from January 21 to March 11, in essence from Martin Luther King Day to Purim.  Dr.  King inspired countless people through his dreams, and his commitment to working to change the world.  He would not accept injustice, spoke up when he saw prejudice and inequality. 

The same is true with Purim: at the heart of that story is Queen  Vashti, who refused to accept sexist and abusive behavior, and Queen Esther, who took action in the face of grave threats.  Both heroes demonstrate that one should take personal responsibility for healing the world.

We have the opportunity to do this by participating in the World Zionist Congress Elections.  When we vote, we are raising our voices and taking action that will bring us closer to an Israel of equality, justice, and peace.  Check here (https://azm.org/wp-content/uploads/2020-ARZA-Platform-and-Slate.pdf) for more information on the Reform movement slate and the overall election proceedings.  Next week, once the voting has begun, I will share specific information about how to vote, including opportunities to do so at temple programs and activities.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Stein


Parashat Shemot
January 18, 2020

The new Pharaoh does not remember Joseph, and makes the Israelites his slaves. Pharaoh then demands that all Israelite baby boys be killed at birth. Moses’ mother puts her son in a basket in the river, and he is saved by Pharaoh’s daughter. As an adult, Moses kills an Egyptian taskmaster who was beating an Israelite slave. Moses flees to Midian and marries Zipporah. God appears before Moses in a burning bush and tells him to free the Israelites from slavery. An apprehensive Moses returns to Egypt, where he and his brother Aaron demand that Pharaoh free the Israelite slaves. Pharaoh refuses, and God promises to punish him.