A Rosh Hashanah message from David Sefton, MERCAZ-Canada President

Shana Tova

I write this as we enter 5779, wishing all a happy and prosperous new year.

What a tumultuous year this has been for Israeli-Diaspora Relations! I am well aware that every year of its 70 year history has been an eventful year for Israel. In the beginning, the question of the day was can Israel survive the enmity of its neighbours. Then, financial survival and having enough water to quench the thirst of its citizens. Throughout Israel fought wars every decade or so, fortunately successfully. There was the absorption of immigrants from Europe, North Africa and Arab countries, Ethiopia, Russia; all while Israel forged a democracy and sophisticated society with a huge high tech component. How can we not be proud of our Israeli family who have achieved so much in such a short time? Every issue achieved through great debate, sacrifice and determination.

What makes today’s debate different? The crisis of the day is no longer Israel against outside forces. It is Jew against Jew. Specifically the Israeli Government versus non-Orthodox Jews in Israel and Jews in the Diaspora.

  • Reversal of the negotiated Western Wall settlement
  • Divisive comments of the Chief Rabbinate
  • Blacklist of North American Rabbis
  • Arrest of a Masorti/Conservative Rabbi who officiated at a Haifa wedding
  • Detention of individuals entering Israel or expulsion from Israel
  • The Israeli Nation state law

Each one of these issues has an impact on the Diaspora. I am, and we all should be offended that some are trying to impose a way of “being Jewish” on us. We have emerged from a time when we accepted the fact that we were second class citizens only to be told by the Rabbanut that we who are not Haredim are second class Jews. Where is the Progress?

As Conservative Jews we must be vigilant. We must be strong and clear in our messaging.

It is essential that you join and encourage your friends and co-congregants to join MERCAZ-Canada this year and next year in order that our (Conservative/Masorti) position and voice be heard in Israel and especially at the World Zionist Organization where millions of dollars are dispersed amongst the religious streams and other Zionist organizations in Israel and around the world.

We have talked about the need for years. The time has come to complete your mission.

David Sefton
President, MERCAZ-Canada