What an amazing year this has been as the Religious Zionists of America has embarked on a program to strengthen its base and spread its message to the American Jewish community.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, RZA has created a national honor roll of schools and synagogues committed to celebrating this historic event, which more than 220 communities across North America have signed. Communities are organizing creative programs such as lectures, movie nights, concerts, picnics and of course festive prayers.
Additionally, thanks to the efforts and support of RZA co-president Martin Oliner, RZA has also organized a mission to Washington, DC where the leadership of 25 Jewish organizations—representing the spectrum of the Jewish community—will meet at the U.S. Capitol with members of Congress (from both sides of the aisle) to pass a resolution in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem.
RZA has also initiated a national children’s art contest as well as a Yom Yerushalayim button campaign whose theme is “United With Jerusalem.”
Furthermore, RZA has also arranged for hundreds of individuals from communities across North America to participate in the International Mizrachi Mission to Israel. These representatives of the American Jewish community will be gathering in Israel where they will be joined by fellow Jews from across the globe for a four-day, once-in-a-lifetime, world-Jewry celebration in Jerusalem.
In November, RZA held its National Convention featuring presentations by RIETS Rosh Yeshiva HaRav Hershel Schachter, World Mizrachi CEO Rav Doron Perez and former Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens. In December, RZA went to Teaneck for a special program with Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter. In January our Chicago chapter held a sold-out “Beit Café,” and our Los Angeles chapter organized an RZA Shabbaton, featuring myself; Rabbi Shaul Robinson of the Lincoln Square Synagogue; and Rabbi Marvin Hier, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who had just returned from speaking at the inauguration in Washington, DC. In February, we held two events in Boca Raton, Florida and last week Professor Alan Dershowitz addressed a crowd of more than 400 people in Scarsdale, New York.
But the crown jewel of the RZA, no doubt, is the Aryeh Fellowship. This past winter break RZA sponsored missions to Israel for nearly 40 college students from around the country. These students became RZA “Aryeh Fellows” and have committed to pursue Manhigut (leadership) projects designed to bring the message of religious Zionism back to communities across the United States. The students are working in 13 different groups, each focused on a different religious Zionist initiative. As an example, one initiative was the first-ever national collegiate Chidon HaTanach (Bible contest), which was held a few weeks ago in Midtown Manhattan. A second group is organizing Kumzitz-style get-togethers on college campuses across the country. A third group launched a “Humans of Israel” social media campaign shedding light on the lives of recent Olim and highlighting their aliyah experience. Yet another group is translating into English divrei Torah from Roshei Yeshiva of Yeshivot Hesder in Israel, which appear in RZA’s weekly emails. Essentially, the Aryeh Fellowship has enabled RZA to organize a cadre of student leaders who are rooted in Torah knowledge and are passionate about activism both on the college campus and beyond.
For more than 100 years, Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi has been at the forefront of world Jewry, advancing through educational, political and social programs an everlasting commitment to “the Land of Israel, for the People of Israel, according to the Torah of Israel.” I invite you to join me ([email protected]) in strengthening the umbrella organization whose primary objective is to invigorate communities across America with the message of religious Zionism.
By Rabbi Gideon Shloush,
Executive VP, Religious Zionists of America