Counting on Shabbat Shekalim

As we approach Shabbat (Parshat) Shekalim, we recall the Israelites wandering in the wilderness after their Exodus from Egypt on their journey to the land of Israel. We remember on this special Shabbat that they paused to take a census. Each person counted was required to donate a half-shekel, the coinage at the time,to be used towards the construction of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle

Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, Promoted Content
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Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin
Rabbi Debra Newman KaminCredit: PR
Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, Promoted Content
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Every individual needed to participate in this vital national project of the Jewish people. 

Right now, we have the opportunity to have our voices counted in Israel, to participate in a modern vital project of the Jewish people.

Every five years, American Jews have a unique opportunity to voice their opinions on the future of Israel by voting in the World Zionist Congress. This election is the only political arena in Israel where Diaspora Jews have a seat at the table – the only time that the Israeli government hears from world Jewry.  

This election is our chance, as American Jews, to have a democratic say in what happens in Israel. Issues like religious pluralism, equality and inclusion for all Jews, equal access to the Kotel, the peace process with the Palestinians, the status of our rabbis, and the continued growth of our Kehillot, our synagogues and minyanim, and the Conservative/Masorti movement in Israel – which now has hundreds of thousands of Jews affiliated -- are all at stake.

Founded by Theodor Herzl in 1897 in Basel Switzerland - The World Zionist Congress created the concept of a Jewish state which is now modern Israel.

Today the Congress makes major policy decisions concerning the future of Israel – Zionism, Aliyah and absorption, Israeli advocacy worldwide, Jewish education and other vital issues for Israel and the Jewish people’s future. It also controls significant funds that get spent on programs and policies – up to $1 billion dollars annually.  

Today the Congress makes major policy decisions concerning the future of IsraelCredit: Dreamstime

MERCAZ is the Zionist organization of the Conservative/Masorti movement and represents its interests in the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Kayemeth (Jewish National Fund). MERCAZ is the force that guarantees funding for our religious stream that is so crucial to all organizations with our movement.

A vote for MERCAZ, Slate #6, will help us gain the power and influence that we need to move our movement forward. While other slates share some or our values, only a Vote for MERCAZ will give the Conservative/Masorti movement the power and funding we so desperately need.

I am proud to head our slate. This is the first time that we have had a female rabbi taking the lead. Our slate represents the diversity that is our movement and we are committed to working for a more open Israeli society that grants equal inclusion for all, with no restrictions because of gender, age, race or sexual preference.

We know that there is more than one valid way to be Jewish. Judaism is a religion of the people. Our traditions have kept us together for thousands of years, and yet, it is clear that the ways we observe them have changed with the times and been influenced by our surroundings throughout our dispersion. This renewed energy and enthusiasm for Jewish tradition is our strength and must be fully recognized.

The choice is yours. We hope that you will choose to be counted with MERCAZ as a Conservative/Masorti Jews in this critical election. A vote for MERCAZ will help us ensure that our right to practice Judaism as we choose is recognized and funded by the people and the government of Israel. Vote MERCAZ Slate #6. The election is open through March 11.

Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin is the rabbi of Am Yisrael Conservative Congregation in Northfield, Illinois in suburban Chicago and president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the association of all the Conservative and Masorti movement rabbis worldwide.

To support Mercaz's slate please head to