On Monday, Israel’s voters will go to the polls to choose the leaders who will help shape the future of Israel. While we cannot vote in the Israeli elections, we too have the opportunity to participate in shaping the future of Israel by voting in the elections for the World Zionist Congress, which are already underway and will end on Shushan Purim, Wednesday, March 11. You can vote online at www.ZionistElection.org.
The World Zionist Congress will meet in October and will make decisions regarding key Jewish institutions and allocate close to $1 billion to support Israel and world Jewry. This includes tuition assistance for gap year students studying at yeshivos and midrashot in Israel, Israel education at our schools here in Queens, fighting BDS and anti-Semitism on college campuses, building communities throughout Israel, and assisting Jews in Queens and around the world who choose to make the ultimate decision in support of Israel by going on aliyah.
In past elections, the Reform and Conservative movements and leftist organizations have mobilized their supporters to win a majority of the seats in the American delegation. They have used those results to claim that they represent American Jewry and to make demands that violate Halachah. This is our opportunity to show that we are an important part of the American Jewish community and to make our voices heard.
You can vote online at ZionistElection.org. There is a $7.50 registration fee to cover the cost of administering the election. It’s a small price to pay when billions of dollars for our institutions, the question of who represents American Jewry, and the future direction of Israel are at stake. To vote, you must be Jewish, 18 years old, a permanent resident of the United States, not voting in the Israeli elections on March 2, and affirm your commitment to the foundations of the Jerusalem Program, which among other things proclaims “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,” furthering Jewish education and fighting anti-Semitism.
There are 15 slates running in the election. You vote for a slate, not individual candidates. There are many members of our Queens Jewish community running on the various slates. The slates worthy of our consideration in the order in which they will appear on the ballot along with their platforms and some of their candidates are:
ERETZ HAKODESH – Their platform calls for a vibrant Israel rooted in Torah, Jewish values based on Torah, Jewish learning and education, ahavas Yisrael, economic opportunity, security, and strengthening the bond between Israel and diaspora Jewry with a focus on Jewish learning. The slate is headed by Rabbi Pesach Lerner (the long-time Executive Director of the National Council of Israel), Rabbi Yaniv Meirov of Chazaq, Leon Goldenberg (host of the radio program Community Matters), Adam Suionov (an aide to Councilmember Rory Lancman), and Dov Fishoff (a leader of the Agudath Israel of America).
ORTHODOX ISRAEL COALITION, consisting of Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi, Amit, Orthodox Union, Yeshiva University, Touro College, Rabbinical Council of America, National Council of Young Israel, Torah MiTzion, Bnei Akiva, Poalei Agudat Yisrael, and other affiliated organizations. The OIC vision is to operate as a full partner and exert influence on the Zionist movement and Israel based on Torah values, support the network of Orthodox-affiliated organizations worldwide, confronting anti-Semitism, supporting the Masa program that supports gap year programs in Israel, and supporting and developing all of the Land of Israel. The slate is headed by Rabbi Hershel Schachter (Rosh Yeshiva at RIETS), and includes Rabbi Michael and Dr. Smadar Rosensweig (Rosh Yeshiva and Professor at Yeshiva University), Rabbi Menachem Penner (Dean of RIETS and former Rabbi of the Young Israel of Holliswood), Rabbi Menachem Genack CEO of the Kosher Division at the Orthodox Union), Dr. Marion Stoltz-Loike (Dean at Lander College for Women), Dr Judith Rosen (Vice President of the Queens Jewish Community Council), Rabbi Dr. Stu Halpern (Senior Advisor to the Provost of Yeshiva University), and Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg,
OHAVEI ZION – World Sephardic Zionist Organization – Their objectives are to further Jewish and Zionist education and promoting spiritual and cultural Sephardic values and heritage, securing funding for Sephardic educational institutions, defending the rights of Jews everywhere and combating assimilation through Jewish pride and identity. The slate is headed by Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie (head of the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan and founder and Rabbi of Congregation Shaare Mizrach) and Odelya Jacobs, Vice President of Media Relations at the World Committee for the Land of Israel.
ZOA COALITION, consisting of the Zionist Organization of America, Aish HaTorah, American Friends of Likud, Make Israel Great, Russian Jewish Coalition for A Strong Israel, National Conference on Jewish Affairs, NORPAC, and the One Israel Fund. The slate is endorsed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The platform calls for rescuing Jews endangered by anti-Semitism, combating BDS, opposing an Iranian proxy Palestinian terror state, promoting love and respect for Torah and Jewish tradition, the Jewish people’s right to settle the entire Land of Israel, and strengthening Jewish and Zionist education. The slate is headed by Mort Klein (President of the Zionist Organization of America), former City Councilmember Steve and Susan Orlow of the One Israel Fund, former Assemblymember Dov and Shani Hikind (founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism and CEO of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim), Dr. Benjamin and Dr. Esther Chouake of NORPAC, Rabbi David Algaze of Havurat Yisrael, and Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills.
AMERICAN FORUM FOR ISRAEL – Their platform calls for raising awareness of Israel, especially among Russian-speaking Jews, and integrating Russian-speaking Jews into the mainstream of the American Jewish community. The slate is headed by Dmitry Shiglik (President of the American Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry), and includes Rabbi Nachum Kaziev of Ohr Natan (the publisher of Druzhba).
KOL YISRAEL – Supported by Stand With Us and the American Israeli Council, this slate calls for building real bridges between Jews in Israel and America, empowering our youth to fight anti-Semitism and fighting for funding for exciting new Zionist projects. The slate is headed by Esther Renzer (International President of Stand With Us), and includes Zoya Reynes, President of the Jewish Communal Fund) and Maxine Wiesenfeld (a student activist for Israel).
SHAS OLAMI – Founded by Rav Ovadia Yosef zt”l, this slate seeks to empower traditional Sephardic Jews to influence the direction of Israel and world Jewry by teaching traditional Torah and Jewish values. The slate is headed by Rabbi Sasson Natan of Keter Torah in Houston, Texas, and includes Rivka Meirov (a recipient of Chazaq’s Keter Torah Award), Boris Kandov (President of the Bokharian Jewish Congress of the United States and Canada), and Elazar Mullokandov (Operations Manager for the Alliance of Buokharian Americans Health Committee).
This is one election in which there is no shortage of slates with principles we believe in and candidates who have earned our respect.
The navi Isaiah proclaimed, “For the sake of Zion I will not be silent, for the sake of Jerusalem I will not be still, till her victory emerges resplendent and her virtue like a flaming torch.” If we sit out the World Zionist Congress election, we will be leaving it to others to allocate $1 billion in Jewish charitable funds and influence the future direction of Israel and world Jewry. For the sake of Zion we must not remain silent. For the sake of Jerusalem our voices must be heard. Vote in the elections for the World Zionist Congress!