News and Events

KKL plan to expand Jewish settlements

It is with deep concern that ARZA Australia has learnt of the KKL (Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael) plan to expand Jewish settlements by purchasing private land in the West Bank.

As the Zionist arm of the Union for Progressive Judaism and with the support of UPJ, Netzer and the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors, we feel a sense of duty and deep obligation to appeal to the full Board of Directors of KKL to consider the concerns raised by both the Progressive/Reform movements within Israel and throughout the Diaspora and refuse support for this plan.

It is your support of ARZA Australia that has meant that our world wide body, ARZENU has been able to bring this all important issue to the table in Israel and make a difference.

When the matter comes before the KKL full board of directors for approval, it is hoped that the proposal will not be approved. This meeting will not occur until after the March 23 elections.

According to media reports “the decision to defer the board’s decision until after the election followed threats by several members of KKL leadership to resign in addition to a request by Defense Minister Benny Gantz”. Jerusalem Post

Importantly from a Progressive Jewish perspective, Gilad Kariv, Director of the IMPJ and a candidate in the coming election said “the proposal threatened the very existence of the so-called National Institutions as well as KKL-JNF itself”. He said that “we are determined to block it via public, political and judicial means and that any decisions of the KKL board to approve the plans would be challenged in the High Court”.

The Conservative Movement in Israel also supported the IMPJ position and said such a plan would damage KKL/JNF’s legitimacy amongst Jews in the Diaspora who do not support settlements, but who support the institution’s activities financially.

Although at present there are no partners for peace, steps which adversely affect and undermine the prospect of a two-state solution should be avoided wherever possible.

Finally, we love Israel as a Jewish and democratic State and support it in the  name of safety, security and the moral character we believe in.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2021-03-01T19:34:43+11:00February 18th, 2021|News|

The First Progressive/Reform Rabbi MK?

As the fourth round of elections to take place in Israel in just 2 years draws closer, Progressive/Reform Jews in Israel and the Diaspora wonder if they may finally gain representation in the Knesset and proper recognition in the Jewish homeland. This question is examined by the Jerusalem Post, as follows.

Gilad Kariv: The Labor candidate who could be the first Reform rabbi MK. He is the Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism


FEBRUARY 4, 2021

Rabbi Gilad Kariv RABBI GILAD KARIV: The fact that I am in the fourth slot says something about the fact that Reform Judaism is not a marginal player or only identified with Diaspora Jewry.

It is no secret that the fortunes of the Labor Party have been flagging in recent years.

Formerly the longtime ruling party, its star has waned with the ascent of the Israeli Right as well as a host of competitors for the center ground of Israeli politics. Just six years ago Labor, in an alliance with Tzipi Livni, managed to obtain 24 seats in the 2015 elections, but in the last election, in March 2020, it could muster just three MKs, and that only by dint of an alliance with Meretz.

At the same time, the cause of progressive Jews in Israel has also stalled in respect to their desire for greater recognition and status in the Jewish state. A grand plan for a state-recognized progressive Jewish prayer area at the Western Wall was cancelled by the last stable government, which, together with a fierce fight over conversion, caused an unprecedented crisis between the government and the non-Orthodox denominations in Israel and the US.

But earlier this week, a political development occurred that might presage a fillip for both Labor and progressive Jews. In the Labor primaries on Monday, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, the director of the Reform movement in Israel, obtained the fourth spot on the party’s electoral list for the upcoming elections.

The Jerusalem Post went on to discuss the improved position of Labor in the polls predicting a win of 5 to 8 seats. So, even if Gilad Kariv is moved further down the list because of a Labor deal with another party, he still has a good chance of becoming the first Progressive/Reform Rabbi to be elected to the Knesset. B’hatzlacha!

Please note. The IMPJ and ARZA Australia are nonpartisan organizations, not supporting particular political parties.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey

ARZA Australia President

2021-03-01T20:43:50+11:00February 9th, 2021|News|

International Holocaust Remembrance Day

On behalf of ARZA Australia I bring you a warm and meaningful message from the Chairman of the WZO remembering the Holocaust.

Helen Shardey


Office of the Chairman

Wed 27th January 2021

Dear friends,

Today the world marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day. It took over 60 years after World War II ended for the nations of the world to stop for a moment, remember and acknowledge the systematic genocide. Six million of our people were slaughtered just because they were Jews.

Countless words have been written about that dark period of history, but today I seek to look at it from a slightly different perspective. For me, this day is a day of unity. It is a day when our very strength and unity led the United Nations to recognize the importance of marking this date and commemorating the day of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp.

A people, exiled from its land, persecuted and humiliated, is today here in its historic homeland, bowing its head in memory of all those who lost their lives and the future generations that could have existed. We are a nation that has risen to its feet and in uncompromising unity and today stands firmly against those who slander and incite against us and call for our destruction. One people, strong and united, stating together on this day “never again”.

On the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, I would like to share with you a song written by Prof. Zehavit Gross, head of the Sal Van Gelder Center for Holocaust Instruction & Research at Bar Ilan University.

Prof. Gross wrote the song about her father Zvi Brenner, a Holocaust survivor who for years was reluctant to share the story of his wartime experiences.

“For many years my late father was silent,” Prof. Gross said, “but when he started talking he told one story which was so difficult to listen to and comprehend. But I absorbed it and now I pass it on to you.” This is a story about evil, but also about the good that triumphed over the darkness. It is about a brother who showed compassion, responsibility and caring in an alienating and indifferent world. It is our responsibility to tell Zvi Brenner’s story and to share it with the entire world.

Click here for the song in English
Click here for the song in Yiddish
Click here for the song in Hebrew

Listen, remember, and commemorate. Never Again.

Yaakov Hagoel
Chairman of the World Zionist Organization

2021-03-01T20:01:40+11:00January 30th, 2021|News|
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