Coming Soon: Reform Israel Shabbat

April 27/28 has been designated Reform Israel Shabbat by the URJ, ARZA, HUC, CCAR, ACC, WRJ and MRJ. This is the first time, in recent history, that all of the arms of our Reform Movement have worked together to support and celebrate Israel. Many congregations will also be commemorating Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day) on this special weekend. Next year, Israel’s 65th Birthday will be celebrated on the Shabbat of April 12/13, so this is a great time to test out ideas for the big celebration.

Reform Israel Shabbat is an opportunity to recognize the growth of the Reform Movement in Israel, and raise funds so that we can continue to reach more people. Here are some ideas for events and programs:

1. Plan an Israel Dinner.

  • It can be on Shabbat or Saturday night.
  • It could be a congregation-wide event or for a segment of the congregation (MRJ, WRJ, ARZA/Israel Committee etc).
  • It could be a progressive dinner with a fundraising element.

If 200 congregations each held a dinner with ten couples, each couple making a contribution of $64, in honor of Israel being 64 years old, in one night we could raise $128,000 to support our Israel Reform Movement!

2.  Make Israel the message from the bimah on Shabbat.

  • Congregants can speak of a recent trip to Israel.
  • Kids can speak of their Birthright, NFTY or other trip to Israel.
  •  Invite a guest speaker to speak about Israel.

3.  Add special liturgy to the Shabbat Service.

  • Mishkan T’Filah has a special section for Yom Ha’atzmaut.
  • Additional liturgical material will be sent to each URJ congregation in early April.

4. Offer every congregant the opportunity to join ARZA.

5. Make a donation to your congregation’s favorite or twinned Israeli Reform congregation, or project in Israel, through ARZA.

6.  Host a Saturday night Havdalah, Israeli dancing and food event for your community.

What does your congregation have planned for Reform Israel Shabbat and Yom Ha’atzmaut? Share your ideas in the comments! If you’re not sure yet, ARZA is happy to assist you.

4 thoughts on “Coming Soon: Reform Israel Shabbat

  1. Dear ARZA Guest Blogger… thank you for your follow-up and that ACC is now included. I would hope that all parts of the Reform Movement can be included without each and every one having to be a “sponsor”. When it comes to Shabbat, don’t we all observe the fourth commandment? And don’t we all celebrate Israel and Yom Ha’azmaut?

  2. As a Jew raised in the Traditional movement (conservadoxy) I felt very comfortable davening in the Progressive synagogues in Israel. The Friday night service is more like the Conservative service in the U.S. with all the men wearing kippot and, thankfully, no organ. Although I did not attend a Saturday morning service, I understand all the men wear tallit (except for visitors from abroad), all seven parashot are read from the bimah It was a delight and should be model for the direction we hope Rabbi Jacobs takes the Reform Movement in the US and Canada.

  3. I want to remind ARZA to always include the ACC, the American Conference of Cantors, when you are listing all the branches of the Reform Movement. Our cantors, and their professional organization, are cornerstones of the Reform Movement and ARZA should never forget that. …. Alan Warshaw, Palo Alto, CA

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