The role of the Progressive Jewish Movement world wide in supporting the Progressive movement in Israel is fundamental to the recognition of Progressive/Reform Judaism in the State of Israel, our Jewish homeland.

This has been brought home with the recent IRAC announcement that for the first time in Israeli history, the Israeli government will fund Reform and Conservative rabbis in cities and metropolitan areas.

While sadly the salaries allocated to Progressive and Conservative Rabbis is only a portion of what the Israeli Government pays individual Orthodox Rabbis, it is still a step in the right direction and establishes a very hard fought principle.

Through the amazing and persistent work of the Israel Reform Action Centre (IRAC) and Rabbi Miri Gold, the official Israeli policy which only recognized Orthodox Rabbis as being able to be paid and provide religious services ended. This opened the door for all Progressive Rabbis to serve in regional council areas.

In the wake of the success of this precedent, IRAC continued to fight for recognition of the provision of services by Progressive Rabbis in urban neighborhoods. This has now been achieved and is celebrated by the entire Progressive Jewish World.

Despite these achievements the Progressive Movement in Israel still faces unequal treatment. This is why the Australian Progressive Movement has been the greatest financial supporter of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism, the work of IRAC and other Progressive causes in Israel through the annual UIA Progressive Appeal.

ARZA Australia (the Australian Reform Zionist Association) will be representing the Australian Progressive Zionist movement in Israel at this year’s World Zionist Congress in October.

As President of ARZA Australia, I will be your delegate along with other colleagues, representing you to vote for the equal treatment and recognition of the Progressive/Reform Movement in Israel.

The more members we have through your membership of ARZA Australia, the larger will be our voting block and the greater will be our success in this endeavor.

ARZA Australia, urges all members of the Progressive Jewish community to strongly support this year’s UIA Progressive Appeal and give a very warm welcome to our special guest Rabbi David Saperstein. Rabbi Saperstein is the current President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and was President Obama’s Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.

Rabbi Saperstein will be speaking in Melbourne on March 12 and Sydney on March 18. Details will be available in the Australian Jewish News.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

ARZA President, Helen Shardey