Forty years ago, we were surprised and concerned about the outbreak of war on Yom Kippur. Forty years later, as I write these words, our friends in Israel are handing out gas masks because of recent events in Syria, Israel's neighbours are in various degrees of chaos and peace is still not present.
Nevertheless, Israel, our cherished homeland, has prospered. We can be proud of the advancements in technology, medicine and industrial development. Just this week Israel was ranked 4th in Bloomberg's ranking of countries with the most efficient health care (Canada was ranked 14th).
The Israel Reform Movement is helping to make Israel a more pluralistic and egalitarian society and although there are still some obstacles, progress is being made through the courts and public opinion. The recent activity surrounding the Kotel and women's rights is an example.
To help the Reform Movement grow, ARZA Canada supports the establishment of new Reform preschools in Israel. This has proven time and again to be the best way to introduce secular and traditional Israelis to the idea of a progressive form of Judaism. There are close to 60 Reform preschools and 40 congregations now in Israel. The Reform Movement truly is on the rise as more and more Israelis realize that there is more than one way to be Jewish.
I encourage you to engage a little more with Israel this coming year. Attend Israel related programmes, keep abreast of what is happening in our Movement in Israel and perhaps plan a trip to see this amazing country for the first time or again. ARZA Canada will help to make your trip truly eye opening, with opportunities to connect with Reform Jews in Israel.
L'shana tova um'tuka