Zionism in Action Decision to Hold Zionist Congress Elections Sparks New Enthusiasm

The Zionist Congress Court’s ruling last year that elections must be held for all delegates to the next World Zionist Congress embarrassed those elements in the Zionist movement who wanted to avoid the costly process by allowing individual Zionist federations to agree to a single slate. It also forced postponement of the Congress which was to have opened in Jerusalem this month.

But those negative aspects have been more than overshadowed by the new zest and enthusiasm of Zionist groups all over the world as they prepare for the democratic process of casting ballots. There has been a renewed momentum of activity related not only to the Zionist Congress but in the areas of Zionist information and educational activities abroad and plans to bring large groups of overseas Jews, especially youth, to Israel in the coming year within the framework of various projects.

Avraham Shenker, head of the World Zionist Organization’s information and organization department, said at a press conference here yesterday that the WZO Executive will recommend the last week of February, 1978 as the date for the next Zionist Congress.

The Congress elections in various, countries are expected to be held between September-December, 1977, thus avoiding any conflict with Israel’s national elections scheduled for May 17. Shenker said the February, 1978 date was also the most convenient for delegates from the northern and southern hemispheres.

PREPARING FOR THE CONGRESS

The central office of the WZO in Jerusalem and the various regional and national federations abroad, are concentrating their election preparations among several sectors of the Zionist constituency. One is the party level, including the world unions of various Zionist parties.

Another, Dor Hahemshech, involves the younger generation of adults, those between ages 30-40. A third group is made up of students and other youths, especially those now aged 17 who will be eligible to vote for Congress delegates when they turn 18. Finally, there are the community organizations and synagogues abroad affiliated with the WZO.

Shenker reported on the success to date of seminars held in Israel for executives of Jewish communal organizations in smaller cities and towns abroad where there are significant Jewish communities. Seminars are also held for Jews in the communications media, especially suburban and regional newspapers. About 700 persons, representing 21 groups in six countries, attended a special seminar series in Israel this year for Jewish academicians, Shenker reported.

In the field of information, he noted that Israel desks were established in Boston and Denver last year. A special Canadian-Israeli teachers’ course was introduced at Bar Ilan University.

PROGRESS IN VARIOUS AREAS

Shenker reported on the progress of negotiations with the world organization of Conservative Judaism which will affiliate with the WZO along the same lines as the Reform movement did earlier. He also reported that Brazilian-authorities have approved of the Tapuz Plan which brings Brazilian-Jewish youth to Israel during the citrus picking season. The Brazilian Minister of Education and his aides are due in Israel shortly to view citrus-picking at kibbutzim. Their tour of inspection is required before ratification of the agreement which will grant the Tapuz Plan an official seal of approval by Brazil.

Shenker reported that some 1800 Jewish youth from Latin American countries came to Israel last year in the framework of the Tapuz Plan and their number is expected to double this year. In addition, an experimental project will get underway this year to bring young Jewish couples to Israel to work at kibbutzim. The plan was initiated by the Maccabi World Union. The first 34 couples from the Hebraica-Maccabi Club in Buenos Aires are expected in Israel this month.

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