This Sunday, the American branch of Mizrachi, the Religious Zionists of America (RZA) held a very successful conference attended by hundreds in the Five Towns.
The new national presidium was appointed consisting of Marty Oliner from New York, Rabbi Lenny Matanky from Chicago and Dr Ernie Agatstein from Los Angeles, and Rabbi Dr Solomon Rybak as Chairman.
New Executive Vice President of the RZA, Rabbi Gideon Shloush, arranged the conference along with his team.
There were 3 keynote speakers: first Rav Perez spoke on behalf of World Mizrachi about the vision of “כי מציון תצא תורה”, of galvanizing the Religious Zionist world to serve Diaspora Jewry. He quoted Minister Naftali Bennett, who in many ways captures the new focus of World Mizrachi when he says “For 70 years the State of Israel was the project of the Jewish People, it’s now time for the Jewish People to be the project of the State of Israel.” Rav Perez clarified how the Mizrachi movement is focused on taking broad responsibility for Diaspora Jewry and is initiating many programs to cater to their needs.
Rabbi Hershel Schachter, one of the great Talmudic scholars of our generation and the Rosh Yeshiva of REITS Yeshiva University, spoke of the centrality of Israel in Jewish identity and the importance to continually teach about this and of the mitzva to strive to live in the Land of Israel. This is one of the main roles of Mizrachi as he sees it. Rabbi Schachter has attended every conference of the Religious Zionists of America in recent decades.
Bret Stephens, one of the leading thinkers in the Jewish world today, and deputy editorial page editor at The Wall Street Journal, spoke of his 10 commandments of foreign policy of the United States. He spoke many thought-provoking and practical thoughts of the realism needed in the Middle East and how at this stage in history the Middle East region is less about fulfilling dreams and more about preventing nightmares. It was a message of hope for the future, but realism in the mid-term in reaching these aims.
All in all it was a successful conference and a step forward in the reinvigoration of the national Mizrachi movement in the United States.