In honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, World Mizrachi is arranging two exciting back-to-back events in Yerushalayim:
- A two-day commemoration of Yom HaZikaron and celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut (see here for more details).
- The inaugural World Orthodox Israel Congress for Jewish professional and lay leaders representing communities from across the world.
The World Orthodox Israel Congress
Eretz Yisrael has always been the center of the Jewish world. Millenia ago our people lived together in our land. Our exile two millennia ago separated us from one another by scattering us across the globe. Over this period there has never been an official gathering of representatives or centralized representation of the world’s Orthodox community.
Before the telecommunication revolution, such representation was harder to arrange and less necessary. Modern communication has brought the world together, creating the global village. We, therefore, face global challenges and opportunities which require coordinated global responses. This can only be provided by a global Orthodox voice and network.
The World Orthodox Israel Congress will iy”H reconnect communities around the world with one another by bringing their leaders and representatives together in Yerushalayim. This Congress will iy”H provide the Orthodox world with a voice and network that properly represents each of its communities.
There is, of course, no better place to create this than Israel – the center of the Jewish world, and Yerushalayim Ir Hakodesh – the city which symbolizes Jewish unity.
We are presently communicating with representatives from: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, England, Eswatini, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, Lesotho, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Namibia, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Turkey, UAE, Ukraine, Uruguay, United States, Venezuela, Wales, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
2. The Need
a. Why is the Congress needed?
The Congress will iy”H bring the Orthodox world together and create a representative body that can serve as a voice and address for world Orthodoxy and a forum in which our communities can work together to face common challenges.
At the present time, there is no international Orthodox organization that consists of representatives of each community. There is no address for those who want to communicate with our communities and organizations and no one who can rightly speak on our behalf. This is a significant problem.
b. Why do we need an international voice and address?
There are many organizations – both government and private – who want to offer services to our communities. At the present time, there is no organized and efficient way for them to do so. For example, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is eager to engage and help Jews and their communities around the world, and there are private Israeli organizations that want to offer resources to shuls and schools. Unfortunately, these ministries and organizations have no way to communicate their offers. They have asked us to create a mechanism through which they and others can effectively communicate with our communities.
c. How could such a voice have an impact?
When the Jewish Agency canceled grants for gap year students and the State of Israel closed its border during COVID, individuals and local organizations lobbied the Israeli government and its agencies and achieved very limited success. An international and truly representative body would have been able to accomplish much more. A voice that speaks on behalf of one million Jews from thousands of communities in tens of countries will be taken more seriously.
d. Why does the Orthodox community need its own voice? Aren’t we part of the broader Jewish community?
We are definitely part of the broader Jewish community. Though we are (all) different, we are all brothers and sisters (Hashem’s children) and we look forward to continuing to strengthen our kesher with all Jews in the context of the WZO and other non-denominational organizations.
That having been said, the Orthodox community faces issues unique to itself and needs a voice that can address these issues from an Orthodox perspective.
e. How will the communities work together?
Obviously, each community, city, and country have their unique issues and needs and have local and national organizations who address them. That having been said, many of the issues we face are common to all (or many) of our communities around the world. Working on these issues together will benefit all of us. Creating a network will help us coordinate our efforts and allow each community to benefit from each other’s wisdom, experience, and resources.
f. The impact beyond the Congress
The Congress will iy”H be the first physical gathering of the delegations and forums. The gathering will concretize the network as a voice and address for the Orthodox community. In addition, the forums established will continue helping each other and working together to face common challenges in the years to come.
g. Why do we need a physical, in-person gathering? Why not a Zoom session?
Over the past few years, we have all attended tens (if not hundreds) of Zooms. They are not effective for building a community and meaningful relationships. The Congress will help us see ourselves, and be seen by others, as a significant international community with meaningful working forums. The mega-gathering will also enable participants to learn about the wealth of resources available from both government and private organizations from around the world.
h. Is it important that you and your organization’s leaders attend the Congress in person?
Though we are all busy and there is never a good time to take off from work, it is critical both for your organization and for the global Orthodox community that you and the leaders of each organization attend in person.
In addition to the resources and benefits your attendance will bring your organization, it is important for all Orthodox organizations to have a seat at the global community’s table and have their voices heard.
Your being there will also strengthen other Orthodox communities and the global Jewish community.
We owe it to ourselves and to our fellow Jews around the world to be there in person and make sure that each of our organizations is represented at the highest level.
3. Congress Details
a. What kinds of forums is the Congress creating?
In order to properly represent the Orthodox community, the Congress includes all types of Orthodox organizations (shuls, schools, youth groups) and constituencies (men, women, youth). It includes forums for Shul Rabbis, Shul Lay Leaders, School Principals, School Lay Leaders, Women’s Leadership Forum , Youth and Young Professionals Leadership Fora.
In addition, there are also fora for Orthodox professionals in fields that pose unique challenges to Orthodox Jews (such as psychologists) and/or are important to our community’s voice (such as media professionals).
Each forum will address the issues relevant to their organizations, as well as create opportunities to interact with one another in a meaningful way.
b. What kind of representatives does the Congress include?
We are inviting the professional and lay leaders of each community organization to join us. It is important for each organization to be represented by both types of leaders and to include both men and women in their delegation. Delegates from each community will have the opportunity to be part of each of the forums.
c. What are the exact dates and times of the Congress?
The Congress will commence with a Gala Dinner on the Wednesday evening immediately following Yom HaAtzmaut, continue throughout the following day and conclude midday on Friday. The Congress begins only after Yom HaAtzmaut (with the main day on Thursday) in order to enable those who need to lead their local community celebrations to be able to join us afterwards.
d. Why is the Congress being convened in israel?
There is no better place to gather and concretize our community. Israel is the center of the Jewish world, and Yerushalayim is the city meant to unify all Jews.
e. Why have these dates been chosen for the Congress?
Israel’s 75th anniversary is a time to reflect on our past and prepare for our future. In addition, many leaders will already be here then (for the Mizrachi Yom HaZikaron/Yom HaAtzmaut celebration and for other programs) and will be able to stay for the Congress (which begins right after Yom HaAtzmaut).
The Congress starting after Yom HaAtzmaut allows leaders who need to be with their communities for Yom HaAtzmaut the opportunity to join us after their community’s celebration.
f. What will the content of the Congress be?
The Congress will include three types of content.
- Sessions that address the needs faced by communities around the world. The sessions will include presentations and discussions. (The topics discussed will be determined by the delegations in the coming months.)
- Resource Offers – From Israeli government organizations and private service providers from Israel and from around the world.
- Networking – A chance for representatives to meet others in similar roles in communities around the world.
4. Preparations for the Congress
a. How is the event being arranged?
Over the past months, World Mizrachi has been coordinating delegations with its branches in tens of countries around the world (and with other leaders from other countries). These leaders are communicating with the heads of each country’s national institutions and appointing Head Delegates for each city and community. The Head Delegates are communicating with their city’s organizations to arrange their delegate selection.
Obviously, an event like this has a large managing budget. The costs include renting Binyanei Ha’umah Conference Center including all speaker’s fees and logistical costs and managing an event to be attended by thousands of people. World Mizrachi will also be hosting a Gala Dinner and providing meals for those attending the event.
Participants are responsible for their travel and lodging (World Mizrachi is working on getting special group rates at hotels and will iy”H notify when more details are available).
c. How can you get involved?
If you are interested in representing one of your community’s organizations, reach out to them and offer to represent them. If they agree, you can register to represent them.
d. How to register