Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Lech Lecha- Realizing the Promise Today

VAdonai amar el-Avram… “Sa na einekha ur’eih min-hamakom asher-atah sham tzafonah vanegbah vakeidmah vayamah. Ki et-kol-ha’aretz asher-atah roeh l’kha etnenah ul’zar’akha ad-olam. V’samti et-zar’akha ka’afar ha’aretz asher im-yukhal ish limnot et-afar ha’aretz gam zar’akha yimaneh. Kum hit'haleikh ba’aretz l’arkah ulrachbah ki l’kha etnenah.”
And Adonai said to Avram, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are: north, south, east, and west. For all the land that you see, to you I will give it, and to your seed forever. And I will make your seed like dust of the earth, if a man can count the dust of the earth, then also your seed he can count. Arise; walk through the land, the length of it and the breadth of it, for to you I will give it.” (Breishit 13:14-17)
The promise made to Avram that day was an eternal promise for us, the promise of our legacy, our inheritance. The land that Avram sees, the land that Avram walks, it is not only his. It belongs to his children. It is ours. It is a promise to which the Jewish people have clung for thousands of years. It is a promise whose modern fulfilment began anew, not in 1948, but in 1897 with the dream of Theodor Herzl.
Why 1897? August 29-31, 1897 was the inaugural Congress of the Zionist Organization. Convened and chaired by Theodor Herzl in Basel, Switzerland, the Congress formulated a Zionist platform, now known as the Jerusalem Program, and founded the Zionist Organization, HaHistadrut HaTziyonit. The Zionist Organization, which evolved into the World Zionist Organization, served then, and continues to serve, with its sister organizations of Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael (JNF), Keren HaYesod (United Israel Appeal), and the Jewish Agency for Israel, as an umbrella organization for the Zionist Movement and the worldwide Jewish community.
With annual, then biennial, and now meetings every five years, the World Zionist Congress continues to work for Israel, for us, and for the assurance of our legacy as promised to Avram.
How is this our legacy? The World Zionist Organization is committed to promoting Israel as and idea and as a vital, positive, binding force in Jewish life. The Jerusalem program is dedicated to instilling the centrality of Israel within Jewish consciousness, encouraging love of Israel, building an exemplary society in the Jewish state, expanding Zionist education, settling the land, and combating anti-Semitism.
How is this accomplished? The WZO and the Congress are made up of delegates from Zionist associations around the world, such as the Canadian Zionist Federation. These associations are built from Zionist organizations: WIZO, Hadassah, Bnai Brith, the three streams of world Judaism, Maccabi, and more. Delegates to the Congress elect the WZO leadership, and set its course for the next five years. 2015 will mark the 37th Zionist Congress. Each of us with an opinion on Jewish education, anti-Semitism, aliyah, pluralism, social justice, or Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora has the right and the responsibility to add our voice to the world discussion to help shape the legacy for Israeli society and the Jewish people.
To give voice to your vision, to vote for the next Congress, you must join a Zionist organization by the end of 2014 to take part in the next Canadian Zionist Federation election in spring 2015. The CZF is made up of the three religious streams represented by Mizrachi, MERCAZ, and ARZA. This year Ameinu and others may be joining the elections. Decisions are made by those who show up. Make sure you show up. Become a member of a Zionist organization by the end 2014. Be an active part of the Jewish future and ensure the legacy promised to us today.

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