This past week, I attended the 37th World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem as a voting delegate. The World Zionist Congress, originally established by Theodore Herzl in Basel, Switzerland in 1897, now meets as a full session every five years in Jerusalem. The Congress is an institution that takes seriously the understanding of the State of Israel as a Jewish State, in that it gives Jewish community leadership an opportunity to pass resolutions on a wide array of issues affecting Israel. Specifically, the Congress has authority over the World Zionist Organization, all World Zionist Unions, Hadassah, and Keren-Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF). Any Jewish person anywhere in the world over the age of 18 is eligible to vote in the World Zionist Congress. Delegates were chosen by the national and international institutions that comprise the Congress, including the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Jewish movements.
Of particular note to me, as manager of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), an initiative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, were the two resolutions penned by the Green Zionists that were passed in the full session of the Congress. The two critical environmental resolutions were titled “Preserving a Healthy Climate for Israel’s Future” and “Protecting Israel’s Water Supply from Pollution.” The passage of these two resolutions is an important step towards a sustainable future for the State of Israel through the work of the KKL-JNF. Protecting water sources in Israel and ensuring a vital, vibrant climate are both necessary for the fulfillment of our Jewish obligation to serve as stewards of the environment.
Further, these resolutions work towards our mandate to be a light unto the nations and serve as an example of good, national environmental policy. While these two resolutions are only a small fraction of those passed by the World Zionist Congress this year, they are both statements of values that will have lasting influence on the Congress and its associated institutions. You can read the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life’s statement on the two resolution’s passage here and coverage in the Jerusalem Post here.
I am honored to have served as a delegate to the World Zionist Congress and had the opportunity to vote for a greener and more just Israel. Now that I am back in the United States, I am looking forward to watching the KKL-JNF live out its mandate to mitigate climate change. In the coming years, as we approach the 38th World Zionist Congress in 2020, remember that every vote matters and that you can have a say in who represents you at the next Congress.