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United Synagogue Acts to Involve Its Members in the Zionist Movement

November 19, 1981
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The United Synagogue of America, the association of Conservative synagogues, acted today to involve its individual congregational synagogues in the United States in the Zionist movement through a United Synagogue-affiliated Zionist organization which would belong to the American Zionist Federation and the World Zionist Organization.

In a resolution entitled “Conservative Movement Impact on Israel,” passed by the nearly 2,500 delegates attending the United Synagogue biennial convention, the United Synagogue empowered its new president, Marshall Wolke, to “develop and implement the means by which the force and influence of the Conservative movement in America can be effectively carried to the World Zionist Organization and to the people of Israel.”

According to Simon Schwartz, immediate past president, the adoption of the resolution means the launching of a process whereby individual members of United Synagogue congregations — unless they chose not to — would be considered members of the WZO through its projected United Synagogue Zionist organization.

The delegates took note of the existence, within the movement, of Mercaz, the Movement for the Reaffirmation of Conservative Zionism, of which Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz, past president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the association of Conservative rabbis, is current president.


United Synagogue leaders said the resolution was historic because, in 1959, a move to make the United Synagogue part of the WZO was rejected at that year’s United Synagogue convention. In 1979, a resolution which would have had the United Synagogue endorse Mercaz as the Conservative movement’s Zionist Organization also failed to pass.

Rabinowitz told the delegates he endorsed the resolution and voiced the hope of unity in the Conservative movement’s approach to Zionism. United Synagogue leaders and Mercaz officials said they expected to meet soon to discuss such unity.

Schwartz said that because of the resolution “the Conservative movement would have greater impact on the developing policies of the Zionist world and the relationship of Israel with the Diaspora.” He noted that it would “broaden the opportunities to present our religious point of view to the people of Israel.”

Schwartz added: “I do not see this in any way conflicting or competing with any American Zionist organization. It will add to the strength of the entire Zionist movement.”

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