The State of Israel came into being because of the World Zionist Congress. This is where Herzl made his mark and major contribution. The first Zionist Congress which he chaired was held in Basel, Switzerland in 1897.
Every five years, Jews living in the Diaspora have a chance to have a significant say in the future of the State of Israel. More than five billion dollars is at stake. The more votes, the more influence in where the money goes. Israel’s national institutions, its schools and yeshivas, and its political landscape are all impacted by this funding.
Since 1897, the Reform and Conservative Jewish groups have ruled the roost. Orthodox Jews, I am sorry to say, have been slow learners. There are many reasons for this, but “the times they are a changin’.” It is clear that Orthodox Jews can be a powerhouse when they want to be. Orthodox Jews helped elect Donald Trump as president of the United States. They are a formidable force when they are united and take an interest.
It is not clear why the Orthodox have failed to grasp the enormity of the election facing them in the World Zionist Congress. In the last election, only 8,000 Orthodox Jews voted. There were only 55,000 votes in all. The Reform contributed most of the votes. The Reform, for the most part push, for Reform conversions, civil marriage, a pro-BDS Agenda, an anti-settlement ideology, and a mixed prayer service at the Western Wall. The Orthodox cannot be apathetic. They must be pro-active and realize their tremendous responsibility to vote in this crucial election. As of this past week, a total of 56,000 votes have been cast. Most are from the Reform and Conservative movements, who once again have been better at mobilization than the Orthodox. If every Orthodox Jew 18 years old or older registers to vote at a cost of $7.50 per person (see the link above) then the Orthodox will finally have a major share of the 5 billion dollars that are distributed.
There are a number of slates that the Orthodox can choose from, including slate #4, the Orthodox Israel Coalition (which the National Council of Young Israel and Yeshiva University belong to). There are two Orthodox Sephardic slates, and an Agudah slate as well. My personal preference (because of my close relationship since childhood with Mort Klein) is slate #11 which is the ZOA (Zionist Organization of America) slate.
Mort Klein’s father, of blessed memory, was my rabbi when I was growing up in a small Orthodox synagogue in Philadelphia. He was a tremendous Torah scholar.
It is high time for the Orthodox to abandon apathy and embrace their responsibility to future generations. Voting in the World Zionist Congress’ upcoming election is one sure way to do so.
Joseph M. Frager is a physician and lifelong activist.