For the first time, groups promoting traditional religious values and Jewish rights in the entire Land of Israel will lead the American delegation to the 2020 World Zionist Congress. This comes according to initial results published this morning, and indicates a profound shift from five years ago, when liberal groups won a supermajority of delegates.
The biggest surprise is the sudden launch of Eretz HaKodesh, which claimed the third largest block (over 15% of votes) despite starting from scratch without the backing of a sponsoring organization. “Our motivation was to protect the holiness of the Land of Israel and cultivate traditional Jewish practices and beliefs,” said Rabbi Pesach Lerner, President of the Coalition for Jewish Values and leader of the Eretz HaKodesh campaign, “and we are grateful to all those who volunteered and voted on behalf of our new slate.”
Overall, the success of traditional parties indicates the degree to which American Jews are now expressing their Jewish affiliation in more traditional ways. Rabbi Moshe Parnes, Dean of the Hollywood Community Kollel in Hollywood, Florida and an Eretz HaKodesh delegate commented that “it’s so rewarding to see how many Jews, especially younger voters, are invested in preserving the Jewish character of the State of Israel. This vote will help solidify the future of the Jewish people and unify the Jewish nation around its eternal, unchanging principles.”
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“Thank G-d, many segments of the Jewish community took this matter seriously,” added Rabbi Yaniv Meirov, CEO of the Chazaq organization, “and we see that the new Eretz HaKodesh slate headed by Rabbi Lerner, and other pro-tradition slates, succeeded greatly. We will see increased holiness and Torah in the Land of Israel because of this.”
Marc Jacob, a lawyer in St. Louis, MO and an Eretz HaKodesh activist and delegate, said, “It is humbling that Eretz HaKodesh was able to achieve what we did in only our first year in these elections. When we started, we had no idea so many people would turn this into their cause, that so many esteemed rabbinic leaders would back our efforts or that, in the end, we would see such success. Now that we have a seat at the table, the real work begins.”
“This is a momentous occasion as we all stood up to the plate in recognition of the importance of building Torah in the Holy Land,” concluded Rabbi Yechezkel Moskowitz, an Eretz HaKodesh delegate and President of Chovevei Zion. “But this is just the beginning; now we must push forward and address the challenges that lie ahead of us.”
Voting for U.S. representatives to the World Zionist Congress (WZC), the international “parliament of the Jewish people,” ended on March 11, 2020 and was conducted primarily online at ZionistElection.org with thousands of paper ballots also sent in by postal mail. The results below are preliminary, including mailed ballots received to-date, and are subject to final certification by VOTEM, the election management company that is tallying the votes.
The seven-week US election for the World Zionist Congress garnered over 12,000 votes, more than double the turnout of the last election in 2015 and the highest number of votes since the election began for the entire American Jewish community 30 years ago. A total of 15 slates, comprised of nearly 1,800 candidates, were vying for 152 American seats for the Congress during the election organized and facilitated in the US by the American Zionist Movement (AZM). After the votes are certified the number of delegates per slate will be apportioned using a formula outlined in the official election rules which can be found here. The 38th World Zionist Congress is scheduled to be held in Jerusalem from October 20-22, 2020.
Vote Reform 31,500
Orthodox Israel Coalition – Mizrachi 21,698
Eretz Hakodesh 20,023
MERCAZ USA 14,666
ZOA Coalition 10,313
American Forum for Israel 8,132
Shas Olami 2,046
Kol Yisrael 1,752
Dorshei Torah V’Tziyon 1,373
Herut Zionists 1,157
Israel Shelanu 769
Ohavei Zion 375
2020 TOTAL 123,629
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)