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June 20, 1986 - Image 31

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-06-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

the Six Day War mainly by immigrants
from the U.S. and other English-speaking
countries.
So both movements have a growing
stake in Israel as a base for permanent
Reform and Conservative communities,
which have already shown their ability to
influence Israeli society from within; and
as a major base for educational programs
for their worldwide membership. Both
movements raise funds abroad to support
their presence in Israel.

/—

1

\

or their Israel-related activities aboard
have not met with much success. In part
due to their inexperience in utilizing the
funding channels and procedures that
other groups have mastered over the years,
but mostly because of the double stan-
dards and bureaucratic obstacles put up by
the veteran Zionist establishment in de-
fense of their privileged sources of funds
— a good part of which are donated by
Jews affiliated to the Reform and Conser-
vative movements.
Indeed, more WZO and Agency funds go
to anti-Zionist yeshivas and programs each
year than to the Reform and Conservative
movements. Moreover, the resistance of the
WZO/Agency establishment to the de-
mands of these two movements ha's been
reinforced by the line adopted by the UIA,
which monitors allocations to the Agency
on behalf of American Jewry.
'Eventy years ago the issue of the respon-
siveness of the Agency and WZO to the
Israel-related goals of the Conservative
and Reform movements would not have
troubled very many people. At that time,
before the Six Day War that awakened
broad segments of western Jewry to a
desire for closer ties to Israel, both
movements had a very modest presence in
the Jewish State with little thought of ex-
panding significantly.
Since then, however, the Reform move-
ment has cast off the remnants of its anti-
Zionist past and has sought to intensify
its presence and involvement in Israel, to
the point of moving the international head-

quarters of its World Union for Progressive
Judaism from New York to Jerusalem. The
Conservative movement, which always
supported Zionism and Israel, also in-
creased its involvement in many spheres.
The president of United Synagogue of
America, Franklin Kreutzer, was quoted re-
cently as saying that the Conservative
movement too would probably transfer its
international headquarters to Jerusalem,
to "have our permanent anchor in Israel,
the seat of Jewish influence."
rIbday, the Conservative movement in
Israel has about 40 congregations and
10,000 members, and the Reform move-
ment has 15 congregations and several
thousand members. Both have national
youth movements and rabbinical programs
in Israel to train rabbis to serve their
movements in Israel. There are two Reform
kibbutzim and one Conservative kibbutz,
while the Reform movement has also estab-
lished a non-collective settlement known as
a mitzpeh. In addition, both movements
have greatly expanded their Israel pro-
grams for Diaspora students and youth,
with the Conservative movement bringing
more teenagers to Israel for summer pro-
grams than any other group. Both move-
ments have shlichim (emissaries) provided
by the WZO and receive funding from the
Agency and WZO for other educational
programs in Israel.
The Israeli presence of both movements,
which are attracting a small but growing
number of Israelis looking for alternative
paths to Judaism, has been built up since

he director of the World
Union for Progressive
Judaism, Rabbi Richard
Hirsch, outlined the Re-
form movement's • philos-
ophy regarding its de-
mands from the Agency and WZO in an in-
terview in his Jerusalem office:
"All we want is for the Agency and WZO
to be responsive to the needs of the Jewish
world, which recognizes Israel as the cen-
tral focus of Jewish life. Their money
shouldn't be distributed on the basis of
political criteria or religious affiliation, but
according to which movements can bring
Jews to Israel. We have 1 5 million people
around the world. Why shouldn't the Agen.
cy and WZO fund programs to bring more
of them here? We are not asking for special
favors — and we don't begrudge the Ortho-
dox what they receive — but we want no
less than our fair share."
His voice was occasionally drowned out
by the heavy machinery working in a huge
excavated tract next door.— the site of a
$30 million world educational center for
the Reform movement. This complex, to be
dedicated later this year, will include a
study center, library, youth hostel and a
synagogue, and is going up next to the
Hebrew Union College campus in the heart
of Jerusalem.
An Agency grant of $250,000 towards
the construction of the youth hostel in this
complex recently made headlines at the
February meeting of the Agency Board of
Governors in New York. It was perhaps the
most controversial item on the board's
discussion of the Agency's $381 million
budget for 1986/87, due to.the opposition
it aroused from leaders of Orthodox par-
ties and other Zionist bodies such as the
World Confederation of United Zionists,
which includes Hadassah. An earlier Agen-
cy grant of $500,000 for the hostel was
made in 1982.
"Our people were very angry and disap-
pointed that we didn't get more of what we
had asked for, which was $2.9 million for
the hostel and study center in the com-
plex," said Hirsch, who is a member of the
WZO Executive and the Agency Board of
Governors. "Compare what we have re-
ceived for this hostel to the grants made

Part Four

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