Welcome to the website of the Australian Reform Zionist Association (ARZA). ARZA works to help ensure that Israel can live in peace and security, both within, and at the borders of her neighbours. ARZA works to ensure that Israel is a democratic and inclusive society for all of its inhabitants and is a spiritual home for all Jews. ARZA Australia represents the values and views of Progressive Jews locally and, via our global parent organisation ARZENU, around the world.
It all started with an injury. Orly, the head of our legal department, broke her leg during the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance last week. One minute, she was full of activist energy, the next she was writhing on the ground in pain. Orly's plight made all of us stop to examine how fragile we are as individuals and as a team.
“Love your neighbour as yourself” (Lev. 19: 18) – וְאָהַבְתָּ לְרֵעֲךָ כָּמוֹךָ
Reflections from Israel – Tammy Cohen – 5th July 2017
Just a few months ago, I stood at the Kotel, leyned from Torah and together with Rabbi Gersh Lazarow, led a Mincha Shabbat service as we celebrated the bat mitzvah of one of our Australian community members. My first visit to the current Egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel was uplifting, it was one of the first moments where I felt a connection between my own religious practices and Israel. It brought me hope that Israel's government and its people would continue to learn and embrace the many ways to be Jewish.
Beit Ha’am Z-Talks
Pray for the Wellbeing of Jerusalem Psalms 122
A Special Edition in the Wake of the Western Wall Plan Turmoil
“A dispute that is for the sake of Heaven is destined to endure; one that is not for the sake of Heaven is not destined to endure.” (Ethics of the Fathers, 5:17)
The decision to put a freeze on the Western Wall plan was made on Rosh Hodesh – the first day of the month of Tammuz. According to the Jewish calendar, later this month, on the 17th of Tammuz, the breaching of the walls of Jerusalem by the Romans is commemorated in a fast day. That event led to the destruction of the Temple. This is an opportunity for us to delve into the disputes: those which are “for the sake of Heaven” and those which are “not for the sake of Heaven” that have accompanied the Jewish people for generations.
On Sunday, the Israeli Cabinet made a decision to reverse an earlier decision to establish a pluralist prayer space at the Western Wall. Additionally, there was an initial approval of a bill that would give the Chief Rabbinate a monopoly on conversion in Israel.
President of the ZFA Dr Danny Lamm, who was in Israel for Board of Governor's meetings with The Jewish Agency for Israel, said these decisions came as a tremendous shock to all participants.
Explaining the two decisions he said that the reversal of the decision in regards to the Western Wall came after the Government had asked the Chairman of the Jewish Agency Natan Sharansky to broker a deal that would enable this space to be made available for ALL Jews to perform services in the way that they wish.
WE’RE MAD AS HELL AND WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANY MORE!
CRISES OF CONVERSION AND KOTEL
Rabbi Lawrence A. Englander
Chair, ARZENU, International Reform Zionist Organization
I was driving with my Israeli friend through a Jerusalem neighborhood. As we passed by houses and gardens, mothers pushing strollers and kids cruising on skateboards, he said to me: “This is such a beautiful country, with such beautiful people, beautiful landscapes — and such a horrible government!” The recent actions of the Netanyahu government to support a Conversion Bill that would disqualify any Jew by Choice converted in Israel by anything other than an “authorized” Bet Din, coupled with their “freezing” the agreement to build an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, simply reinforce my friend’s sad remark.
Over the past few days we have once again been reminded in the most stunning manner about the lack of regard that the Government of Israel has for Progressive, Conservative and other non-Orthodox Jews in Israel and around the world. It has also provided a stark reminder of the continuing importance of the work of ARZA groups around the world to see Israel fulfill one of the basic commitments of her Declaration of Independence.
World Union Connections Conference April 2017 Jerusalem
The World Union for Progressive Judaism’s (WUPJ) CONNECTIONS conference was held in Jerusalem in April, providing me the opportunity to visit Israel and to have some meaningful meetings with Progressive Zionists from around the world. However, beyond that, it was an outstanding conference that provided inspiration and support for all of us seeking to ensure that Israel fulfills its own commitment to be a democratic and inclusive society.