Soon it will be Yom Ha'Atzma'ut, Israel's Independence Day. While there will be ample opportunities to celebrate with prayers of gratitude and joyful gatherings, the modern realization of our ancient prayers requires more than the service of our hearts and lips.
Two of the best ways you can show tangible support for Israel are available to you right here in Washington. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is Israel's voice to the federal government. Though it is a political organization (not a charitable one), it is not involved in United States elections. Instead, it represents the interests of the government of the State of Israel. Governments change and policies change, but the need to support the existence and well-being of Israel remains consistent. And informed members of our community are best able to advocate for Israel's best interests.
AIPAC's annual Policy Conference provides a unique opportunity to delve into the issues and to hear from and meet leading policy-makers, Members of Congress, Israeli leaders, and commentators. There is no other conference of its kind and this year, more than 6,000 pro-Israel activists will attend, including hundreds of college students from across the nation.
You can take part in three of the most important days affecting Israel's future during AIPAC's 45th Annual Policy Conference. This year's conference will take place at the new Convention Center in Washington, D.C. from May 16th through May 18th. Washingtonians may register for the entire conference or take advantage of special "day-only" rates. Contact Rachel Murov at (202) 583-4689 and see more information at www.aipac.org.
Another vehicle for supporting Israel is available through the Conservative movement, for while we are mandated to keep Israel strong from without, we also have an obligation to strengthen Israel from within. MERCAZ USA is the Zionist membership organization of the Conservative Movement, the voice of Conservative Jewry within the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Zionist Movement and the Jewish National Fund to support religious pluralism in Israel and strengthen the connection between Israel and the Diaspora.
MERCAZ's platform includes securing Israel's safety, an open and pluralistic Jewish society, social justice and environment, aliyah and Zionist education and Conservative/Masorti Movement.
You can join MERCAZ USA on-line at http://www.mercazusa.org/ or by writing or calling to 155 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, 212-533-7800 extension 2016.
Of course, once you have educated yourself and raised your voice in support, you will want to visit Israel (again). Trips are leaving all the time, or plan to travel with me next summer.