WZO Election Information

The World Zionist Organization (WZO) is a coalition of a number of Zionist organizations. Approximately every five years it meets as the World Zionist Congress, established by Theodor Herzl, which met for the first time in 1897. At this meeting, delegates vote on policy proposals for the organization, including financial policy, and discuss issues of vital importance to the global Jewish community such as Jewish identity, peace and security, anti-semitism, civil society in Israel, and the future of the State of Israel. Annually the WZO and Jewish Agency for Israel allocate approximately $300 million in support of aliyah, Jewish education and other programs in Israel and abroad.

The WZO election is one way that we can influence how those funds are disbursed. Funds are distributed in proportion with the number of votes received by each organization. Therefore, the more votes an organization receives, the greater the amount of communal funding it can secure for its programs and institutions. Hence for the Conservative Movement, it becomes imperative to secure a large vote in order to direct more money to our movement in Israel.

As a result, if we in the Diaspora want to make a difference in Israel, each and every one of us should vote in the elections of the World Zionist Congress. The cost to register is only $10, or $5 if you are age 30 or under. The benefit to our movement and to religious pluralism in Israel is many times that.

The Zionist organization of the Conservative movement is Mercaz (slate #2). The platform is:
1. Pluralism - MERCAZ is celebrates Jewish values without limiting itself to one particular stream of Judaism.
2. Encouraging Aliyah, Hebrew and Zionist Education - Mercaz joins in the effort to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and it encourages Aliyah from all countries. It opposes all attempts to restrict the Law of Return. It also calls for the strengthening of Jewish/Zionist education in the United States and throughout the world.
3. A negotiated two-state settlement between Israel and the Palestinians: MERCAZ supports a two-state solution – one Jewish and one Palestinian Arab – that is the declared policy of the current Israeli prime minister and of every other Israeli administration for the past ten years.
4. Pro-Active Concern for Israel’s Environment. As caretaker of the land of Israel we have a responsibility to protect the environment of Israel for future generations.
5. Support for the Conservative/Masorti Movement: This is really where the rubber hits the road. The number of members affiliated with Mercaz will determine how much money is given to our Masorti Congregations in Israel, and how much recognition they receive. Your vote then is a vote of support for our brothers and sisters in Israel - and it has economic implications.

The registration form can be found at www.myvoteourisrael.com Please contact the office if you would like a paper registration form mailed to you. More information about Mercaz can be found at votemercaz.org Voting ends on April 30, 2015. The 37th World Zionist Congress will take place in Jerusalem in October, 2015.

Introduction to Judaism

The next Introduction to Judaism course will begin Monday, February 9

Taught by Rabbi David Krishef

Time:  Monday evenings, 7:00 - 8:15 p.m.

Cost:  $50/members and B’nai Noah affiliates, $75/non-members

A basic introduction to Jewish history, beliefs, rituals, holidays, and life cycle celebrations.  You may download the Syllabus here.

Junior Congregation


JCong will meet at 11:00 on January 3rd and 17th and February 7th and 21st

Junior Congregation is about a creating a community in which you look forward to hanging out and having fun with your friends while learning and doing prayer, studying and arguing about Torah, and reinforcing Hebrew skills. It incorporates a Torah discussion, some Hebrew prayer reading practice, learning about the prayers, and the service itself.

Junior Congregation will be led by Marisa Krishef and Marni Vyn usually meeting on the first and third Shabbat of the month at 11:00 a.m. in the chapel or classroom 6. Come join us!

Junior Congregation is primarily aimed at students who are reading, but younger students, with parental assistance, are welcome. There has been some interest expressed in a monthly “Tot Shabbat” service for younger children. Interested? Contact Marisa Krishef at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 459-4627.

thumbs up shabbat

Future Sanctuary Shabbat speakers/programs

  • December 6 - Michael Miller, Acton Institute, "Faith, Reason, Liberty, and Truth!”

    Michael Matheson Miller is Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute. With some ten years of international experience, Miller has lived and traveled in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. He lectures internationally on such themes as moral philosophy, economic development, and social theory, and entrepreneurship. He is a frequent guest on radio and has been published in the Washington Times, The Detroit News, The LA Daily News, and Real Clear Politics.  He is the Director and Host of the PovertyCure DVD Series and has appeared in various video curricula including Doing the Right Thing, Effective Stewardship, and the Birth of Freedom.

    Much of his current work at the Acton Institute involves leading PovertyCure, promoting entrepreneurial solutions to poverty in the developing world.  Before coming to Acton, he spent three years at Ave Maria College of the Americas in Nicaragua where he taught philosophy and political science and was the chair of the philosophy and theology department.

    Miller received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. from Nagoya University’s Graduate School of International Development (Japan), an M.A. in philosophy from Franciscan University, and an M.B.A. in International Management from Thunderbird Graduate School of Global Business. He serves on the President’s Advisory Council of Aquinas College in Nashville, the board of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, and the board of trustees for Angelico Press

  • January 3 - [No Sanctuary Shabbat Speaker]

  •  February 7 - Tom Dilley, The Distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish burial sitesThomas R. Dilley is a retired attorney and frequent lecturer on cemetery history in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the author of several books of local history, and he is a member of the Grand Rapids Historical Commission, trustee of the Grand Rapids Historical Society, past chair of the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation, and trustee of the Grand Rapids Public Museum Foundation.

He has recently published “In The Art of Memory: Historic Cemeteries of Grand Rapids, Michigan.” In it, he details the history of Grand Rapids’ park cemeteries, finding that their development mimicked national trends and changing cultural beliefs about honoring the dead. 

  • March 7, Barbara Rylko-Bauer, "A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps: My Mother's Memories of Imprisonment, Immigration, and a Life Remade."

    Barbara Rylko-Bauer is a medical anthropologist whose writing focuses on health care inequalities, applied anthropology, political violence, memory, and the Holocaust. She holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology and is Adjunct Associate Professor of Anthropology at Michigan State University. She was Book Review Editor for Medical Anthropology Quarterly and has authored numerous chapters and articles. Her most recent books are Global Health in Times of Violence (2009) and A Polish Doctor in the Nazi Camps (2014).

    Barbara was born in 1950 in Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany, to Polish Catholic parents who had been imprisoned during World War II in German concentration (mother) and prisoner-of-war (father) camps. The family immigrated to the United States near the end of 1950, where Barbara grew up in a Polish-American enclave of Detroit. She attended the University of Michigan as an undergraduate and then was awarded a Ph.D. by the University of Kentucky in 1985. Barbara lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband, Daniel Bauer; they have one son, John.

  •  April 4, David Rahinsky, Grand Rapids Chief of Police

Study Groups


Isaiah Study group, Zohar Study group, Mishnah Study group, and Biblical Hebrew (Genesis) reading group

For more information, see the Adult Education page.


Betzalel Art Group

BETZALEL ART GROUP, Wednesdays, 3:30 - 5:30 p.m., room #1

Join the fun at the Betzalel Art Group and be inspired by others as you work on your own projects. Bring your fiber art project or oil painting or any other art or craft you enjoy doing. Everyone is welcome. This is an open and flexible group, so come as your schedule allows.

For more information, please contact Barb Christiaans, 531-1151 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Delving Into Our History

With the help of Peg Finkelstein and Barbara Robinson from the Temple Emanuel Archives, significant progress has been made on the Ahavas Israel Archives.  The project was generously funded by Mort and Peg Finkelstein and Raleigh Finkelstein in memory of their parents. Contributions to the Gen and Jack Archive Fund provides continued support.  The committee is working at the synagogue Wednesday mornings from 10AM until noon.  If you are interested in being a part of this important project, please contact Toby Weiner Dolinka at 949-6528.
If you have materials (especially photographs) that would be valuable for the archives, please contact Toby.
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