What is MERCAZ Canada?

MERCAZ-Canada is Canadian affiliate of MERCAZ Olami, the Zionist organization of the Masorti/Conservative Movement. Our mission is to further the cause for true religious pluralism in Israel and to strengthen the connection between, and create engagement opportunities for, the people of Israel and Jews living in the Diaspora. MERCAZ provides representation for the Masorti/Conservative Movement on the decision making bodies of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemet LeYisrael (JNF), the World Zionist Organization and Congress, and Canadian Zionist Federation, ensuring funding for Masorti/Conservative Kehillot and programs throughout Israel and around the globe.

MERCAZ Canada is proud to co-sponsor ‘Mercaz Reads Israel,’ an online book club connecting Diaspora Jews to Israeli authors. MERCAZ-Canada promotes Zionist education with other MERCAZ affiliates and our partner synagogues, and offers scholarships for Conservative Movement trips to Israel.

Click here to become a new member or renew an existing membership.

What does MERCAZ mean?

MERCAZ is the Hebrew word for “center.” Zionism is central to Masorti/Conservative Judaism. Masorti Judaism can play a vital role in enhancing the quality of Jewish, religious life in Israel and providing a balance between haredi and secular views.

Why Do We Need a Voice and a Presence in the World Zionist Organization?

The only religious institutions which have been recognized and funded by the Israeli government are Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox institutions. The only alternate source for recognition, funding, and support for our Conservative/Masorti synagogues, schools, youth programs, rabbis, teachers, and more is the World Zionist Organization. Since representation in the World Zionist Organization is based upon the number of members in each organization, it is critical that MERCAZ continue to increase its membership to assure itself significant representation in the World Zionist Organization and significant allocations and funding from that body.

The World Zionist Congress is akin to the Convention for the Parliament of World Jewry. Every 5 years, the World Zionist Organization holds its international Congress at which elections are held and Department appointments are made. Based on the strength of its membership, MERCAZ is allocated its number of voting delegates and positions of authority within the World Zionist Organization. From one Congress to the next, those Delegates and Department Heads determine the status, funding, and programs granted to our Conservative/Masorti Movement in Israel, and around the world.

How Does a Strong MERCAZ Benefit Israel?

Only with more programs and resources can the Conservative/Masorti Movement touch and inspire the lives of so many Israelis who are indifferent to or alienated from their Jewish heritage. Masorti Judaism can play a meaningful role in bringing Jewish Israelis closer to Judaism. MERCAZ is an advocate for Masorti institutions and individuals in all of their efforts, projects, and campaigns.

MERCAZ utilizes its position to promote the rights of Conservative/Masorti individuals and institutions, among them: Rabbis, mohalim, synagogues, youth programs, schools, camps, and candidates for conversion, none of whom are currently recognized or funded by the government.

Can You Tell Me Briefly Why I Should Join?

Membership in MERCAZ USA is the only way you can:

  • Ensure there is a Conservative voice and vote in the World Zionist Organization, where decisions critical to Israel and Diaspora are made.
  • Identify with the Conservative/Masorti Movement’s efforts to enhance the quality of Jewish life in Israel.
  • Bring Conservative Jews closer to Zionism and to Israel.
  • Increase Zionist activity, Israel programs, and aliyah, within the Conservative Movement.

Click here for our secure online membership page.

What is Canadian Foundation for Masorti Judaism?

The Canadian Foundation for Masorti Judaism in Israel is a Canadian charitable organization which raises funds to support activities run through the Masorti Movement, individual kehillot or other Masorti institutions in Israel, and educational and Zionist programs for Canadians. CFMJ promotes Masorti/Conservative scholarship and outreach in Canada. The Foundation, along with MERCAZ-Canada, also serves as the Movement’s Zionist voice to Canadian media, public officials and Jewish leadership.

Click here to make a donation to support Canadian Foundation for Masorti Judaism.

What does Masorti mean?

Derived from the Hebrew word Masoret, meaning tradition. Masorti Judaism offers meaningful religious alternatives to government-sponsored Orthodoxy. Masorti/Conservative Judaism is traditional and pluralistic, modern and non-coercive.

Who is T’nua Masortit?

Masorti is the name of the Conservative Movement outside North America.

Around the world, the Masorti/Conservative Movement promotes scholarship, Zionism, pluralism, and respect for the environment. In Israel, Masorti provides a welcoming alternative to state-sponsored Orthodoxy.

Present from pre-State times, today, the Masorti Movement is an indigenous Israeli movement led by Israelis for Israelis to create a pluralistic, egalitarian, inclusive approach to Jewish life in Israel and to advocate for religious freedom for ALL Jews in Israel. Its diversity represents the population of Israel. Two-thirds of Masorti congregants are native-born or immigrants from Latin America, Europe, or the former Soviet Union. North Americans, who established the Movement’s first kehillot, comprise about one-third of membership. Their voice, combined with ours, is changing Israeli society. Diversity and inclusiveness are central to the Movement.

What are the collective Goals of MERCAZ and Masorti?

MERCAZ and Masorti are committed to bringing Conservative Jews closer to Zionism and to Israel, helping to promote Conservative/Masorti Judaism, and working with the constituent arms of our Movement to achieve the following goals:

  • Creating and disseminating Zionist educational materials, promoting the study of the Hebrew language, and raising the Zionist consciousness of Conservative Jews.
  • Increasing Zionist activities and promoting short-term and long-term programs in Israel for youth and adults.
  • Promoting and encouraging aliyah to Israel.
  • Representing the interests of the Conservative/Masorti Movement in the World Zionist Organization and in the Jewish Agency for Israel, where we serve as a voice and a force for guaranteeing diverse religious stream funding.
  • Promoting Conservative/Masorti Judaism and religious pluralism in Israel.

How Does a Strong MERCAZ and Masorti Benefit Our Movement in Canada?

MERCAZ and Masorti Canada work closely with the other arms of the Conservative Movement to bring Zionist education and Israel programs to Congregations, Sisterhoods, Men’s Clubs, Rabbinical groups, Seminary students, Day School and Hebrew School students, Ramah camps and youth groups.

Together, MERCAZ and CFMJ encourage and promote programs such as USY Pilgrimage, Ramah Seminar, Nativ, Tichon Ramah Yerushalayim High School in Israel, and various leadership missions to Israel. MERCAZ Canada represents our Movement in the Canadian Zionist Federation, the federation of Zionist organizations in Canada.

What is the Difference Between MERCAZ, MASORTI Israel and The Foundation for Masorti Judaism?

MERCAZ is the Zionist Organization that serves the interests of the Conservative/Masorti Movement around the world. It is the Zionist conscience of our Movement and the guarantor for proper recognition and funding for Conservative/Masorti programs and institutions around the world. Among other things, MERCAZ is the advocate and the force which guarantees religious stream funding that is so vital to our Movement.

MASORTI is the name of the Conservative Movement outside North America. It is derived from a Hebrew word that means “tradition," and represents a modern egalitarian and inclusive approach to traditional Jewish life. Masorti Israel represents our Movement in Israel, where Masorti Olami represents the rest of the world.

The Canadian Foundation for Masorti Judaism in Israel raises essential funding to support programs run through the Israeli Masorti Movement, its congregations, youth and camping programs, absorption projects, Kibbutz Hannaton and other social, legal, and religious efforts. Conservative Movement Zionists should support the programs and institutions our Israeli partners through the Masorti Foundation, but only by joining MERCAZ do you have a voice in the international Zionist arena to work for the recognition and welfare of the entire Movement. Only as a MERCAZ member can you make a difference in the deliberations and decisions of the World Zionist Organization and World Zionist Congress.

Where do MERCAZ and Masorti stand on Israeli political issues?

The Masorti Movement is apolitical. Just like the Canadian Jewish community, members of Masorti kehillot range over the entire spectrum, but check their political views at the synagogue door. This is unique in Israeli society, where often religious affiliation and political views go hand in hand.

Through MERCAZ Olami and our participation in Israel’s National Institutions, we encourage the Israeli government to recognize all Jewish religious streams. Our presence ensures the World Zionist Organization gives our programs and institutions its fair share of funding and opportunity.

What is the Masorti Movement’s budget and what does it cover?

The present budget is $2.5 million. This covers all national programs and subsidies to Masorti congregations, including youth programs and rabbinic support. In Israel, Orthodox religious institutions, including synagogues, are funded by the State, with expectation of cost-less participation. Virtually no public funding goes to the Masorti or Reform Movements.

Masorti Kehillot (congregations), contrary to Israeli custom, collect dues to fund local and national programs. To grow, the Movement needs the help and support of allies in North America.

Religious pluralism and freedom are not luxuries. The struggle for democracy and equal treatment for all Jews in Israel is a foundational idea of our Movement.