Formerly the Progressive Israel Committee, this organization has changed its name to TBE Voices for a Pluralistic and Democratic Israel.
For several years TBE’s Progressive Israel Committee has been wrestling with both its name and its mission. What does it mean to be “progressive” in relation to Israel? How do we explain our name to others, and how does our mission differ from that of other TBE committees and programs?
Of late, our committee has been increasingly concerned about the news coming out of Israel. There has been violence at the Kotel (Western Wall) as Reform and Conservative women and movement leaders have sought to pray there. Jewish Israelis continue to find it difficult to be married by rabbis of their choice. More and more legislation has been introduced into the Knesset that would serve to limit freedom of expression.
As lovers of Israel and her people, and as committed Reform Jews, we have come to feel that it is vital that we join with those—both in Israel and in Jewish communities around the world—who are working to create an Israel that is open and inclusive to all forms of Jewish expression, an Israel that remains true to its founding Zionist vision expressed in its Declaration of Independence: “[Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race, or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education, and culture.”
TBE Voices for a Pluralistic and Democratic Israel Mission Statement
The members of this committee are committed to expanding religious pluralism and equal rights within Israeli society. We seek to help build a civil society where all citizens have equal treatment under the law in a democratic Israel. Furthermore, we will promote efforts to fully incorporate and welcome all Jews as part of one Jewish people.
We will look for a variety of platforms to inform our congregation about the history of modern Israel with the emphasis on the effects of changing demographics and culture. We will provide a connection to efforts on the ground to bring about meaningful reforms in areas such as civil marriage and divorce, gender equality, gay rights and inequitable government allocations to schools and synagogues. We will look to support groups and build coalitions with others seeking the same goals.
We, of course, welcome TBE members who are interested in our work and look forward to publicizing programs and events that support our mission.
ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America) is “TAKING BACK THE Z”: An unapologetic love for Israel, the land, the people and the State, is at the core of our beliefs. Modern Zionism encompasses our values of democracy, pluralism, and equality. That love of Israel demands honesty and a commitment to the continuation of building a morally exceptional society in the Jewish state. This is not a new concept. But today’s challenges demand nuanced action and strong leadership. ARZA provides the vehicle, the voice, the Movement.
Given ARZA’s love for the people of Israel, the organization has most recently been engaged in two pressing matters: Collecting funds to help those touched by the terrible fires that ravaged many areas in Israel. And, on another front, ARZA has joined with its friends and colleagues in the Conservative Movement to speak out against the hatred expressed by those who desecrated the Kehilat Ra'anan Reform synagogue in Ra'anana.