About Bec Szabo

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So far Bec Szabo has created 7 blog entries.

Stopping the Slippery Slope


The work of ARZA and its global organisation, ARZENU, has become even more important in trying to maintain Israel as an inclusive and democratic State as Israel’s Government moves increasingly to the Right, allows the Ultra-Orthodox groups ever-increasing resources and power, and increasingly puts the concept of a “Jewish” state before the protection of the State as a democracy.

Without calling the Nation State Law a step towards apartheid it is clear that the passing of such a law raises the spectre of “nationalism” replacing the national identity of all citizens. The main difficulty with the Law is the focus on the State as the “national home of the Jewish people, in which it fulfils its natural, cultural, religious and historical right to self-determination.” However, unlike the Declaration of Independence, this Law at deliberately omits offering any similar rights to other groups regarding the equality of all citizens, and without referring to the democratic nature of the State. This raises the concern that the Law’s emphasis on the national identity of the State comes at the expense of its non-Jewish citizens.

IMPJ leaders demonstrate against Nation State Law

The fact that this Law was passed only after long and robust debate proves that Israel is still very much a democracy.  However, when a Law that clearly states that some citizens are “more equal than the others” is coupled with another very worrying trend, which is to call those who criticise anything the Government or the IDF does as “traitors” and “enemies of the State” there must be cause for concern.

Unlike the majority of the Australian Jewish community, which tends to place unceasing support for Israel before concerns about these trends, many members of the Progressive community, along with many, many Jews around the world fear that unless this slide is stopped not only will the nature of the Jewish State change, but it will result in a significant divide between Israel and the Jews in the Diaspora.

A number of years ago the Progressive movement made a conscious decision not to create a political party to run for Knesset places, believing that there should indeed be a separation between “Church & State” and religion should be outside of the political arena.

As such, the place where world Jewry has influence is in the World Zionist Congress (WZC). Over recent years in particular, when ARZENU has been part of the strongest group in the Congress we have pushed through numerous resolutions that have increased transparency and equality throughout Israeli society.

We have also prevented many attempts to funnel increasing amounts of financial aid to go to Settlements beyond the Green Line.  It was also, undoubtedly, the influence of our group that persuaded the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky, to accept and valiantly fight for an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel.

For every person who agrees with the above slogan “A Jewish State for all Jews – One Wall for one People” the need to support ARZA by becoming a member is an essential part of their Jewish identity and life.

2018-12-05T14:02:51+11:00August 14th, 2018|News|

Yom Ha’atzmaut

April Newsletter

A Yom Ha’atzmaut message from the World Zionist Organisation

Dear Friends,

The State of Israel is one of the greatest accomplishments of the Jewish people throughout history. The Zionist movement did the extraordinary and brought the Jewish people back to their land after 2,000 years of exile.

When we are asked to  summarize this chapter of the first 70 years, we must remember and cherish all those who contributed to the building and strength of the State of Israel, those from Israel and those from the Diaspora. To thank those who envisioned, worked, acted, and breathed life into the ancient dream.

I want to thank all of you, in the name of the World Zionist Organization. Thank you. Thank you for your steadfast and unwavering support of the State of Israel, a task that gets harder and harder every day. But because of your support and achievements, we succeeded.

I wish all of us that in the next decade, we will know how to strengthen the connection between Diaspora Jewry and the State of Israel. We will find our similarities and respect our differences.

I hope that we will take significant steps forward to continue building the exemplary society that Herzl once dreamed about: a more just and egalitarian society that respects the stranger and the minorities living within and among us.

And I wish that in the 8th decade of the State of Israel, we will get to see more of our people around the world connecting to their Judaism and to the state of Israel, with strength and hope.

I wish that this verse will be fulfilled (from the prayer of Amidah):
“He who makes peace in his high places
He shall make peace upon us
And upon all of Israel and upon all of Earth’s inhabitants
And let us say Amen”.

Mazal Tov to us all,

Gusti Yehoshua-Braverman
Head of the Department for Diaspora Activities
World Zionist Organization

Reflections from Jerusalem by Tammy Cohen

Shalom from Jerusalem!

My second semester at HUC-JIR, studying a Masters of Jewish Education and Masters of Jewish Non-Profit Management has continued to inspire and challenge me. In our Education Seminar, we explore education methodologies and the different kinds of ways to connect with learners. We continue to discuss our own Jewish identities, how we define and connect to Judaism; Israel; Jewish education and the role each of these plays now and in the future of our movement. We have taken intensive classes in Jewish liturgy, and continue with Hebrew, Israel Seminar, Bible and Biblical Grammar.
I have also taken this opportunity to participate in many programs outside of the classroom. In January, I participated in the Encounter Program, meeting with members of the Palestinian community to learn and hear their stories. These community members were open about the complexities and the challenges from both sides of the conflict, and each work to establish peace and coexistence. This experience raised many new questions for me about the realities of the conflict, media coverage and the ways that we engage with this topic back home.

In February, I chanted Torah at the Kotel, for Rosh Chodesh with Women of the Wall. All year, we have been actively involved with the Israeli Religious Action Centre (IRAC) and Women of the Wall, fighting for religious equality. It was a really special morning, to stand with Progressive, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox women in the Women’s section of the Kotel, supported by men (who stood in the Plaza) and chant Torah. Despite our differences in practices, rituals and customs, we come together each month, striving to understand more about each other, and work towards forming an Israel that represents all Jewish people, and all people.

For Pesach, I travelled to Belarus as part of the HUC/WUPJ/JDC 2018 Pesach Project. We learnt about the Jewish communities in Gomel, Mogilev and Minsk. We participated in 7 sedarim with different organisations and demographics. We met with community leaders who shared with us the incredible work that they do, with very little resources, collaborating with other organisations and creating real change, not only for the Jewish community, but for the wider Belarusian community, including Netzer, the WUPJ Synagogues, a Jewish Day school and Hesed – the JDC program for the elderly.

Now we find ourselves in the middle of the Israeli High Holy Days – Yom HaShoah, Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut. The feeling in the country has changed. The people are mournful and reflective, thinking about the past and preparing for the future. We are participating in a number of memorial and commemorative ceremonies, including the Yom HaShoah National Memorial Ceremony I attended last week at Yad Vashem. It is a time for reflecting about what it means to be Israeli, and to be Jewish in the modern world.

This year in Israel is quickly coming to an end. I am excited to continue the next year of my studies in Los Angeles. The opportunity to be living in Israel this year has been something very special and I am very appreciative of the support of ARZA.

Thank you again,


Tammy Cohen

2018-12-05T14:06:20+11:00April 17th, 2018|News|

Chag Pesach Sameach

Chag Pesach Sameach!

The coming few weeks are an emotional roller coaster for all Jews.  This weekend we celebrate Pesach and the exodus from Egypt, and soon after, on Yom HaShoah, we remember the six million people who were murdered simply because they were Jewish. We then commemorate Yom HaZicharon, when we remember those fallen soldiers who fought to protect Israel and who made it possible, with so many others, for us to celebrate Israel’s independence on April 19.

As we approach this momentous time, let us remember that the times of our greatest achievements  – including the creation of the State of Israel 70 years ago – have been when we put aside our political and denominational differences and united for the overall good of the Jewish People.  Let us hope that this “season of our Freedom” will start a new era of unity, something that ARZA Australia is committed to.

On behalf of the Executive Committee of ARZA I wish you, and those you love, a happy and healthy Pesach and hope that you will join us over the coming weeks in recalling the losses and celebrating the achievements,

Steve Denenberg


2018-12-05T14:04:34+11:00March 29th, 2018|News|
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