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.