Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Sivan 5761 - June 6, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Reform Movement Cancels its Youth Summer Trips to Israel; The Amounts are Trivial
by Mordecai Plaut

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post the U.S. Reform Judaism movement has cancelled its entire youth program to Israel for this summer because of concerns about the security situation in Israel. The UAHC (Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the synagogue organization of the Reform) movement, which claims a membership of over 1.5 million, "generally sends some 1,500 teenagers to Israel on a variety of programs each summer," according to the Jerusalem Post and according to their published reports. The amount is trivial in comparison with the movement's claimed membership, and also very small in the context of the general youth programs in Israel from North America.

"The bombing certainly had an impact," Emily Grotta, communications director for the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, but "we had been wrestling with this for some time."

If the Reform movement's membership claims are accurate, then it means a participation of less than 0.1 percent in the programs. This is an extremely low rate and it provides an indication either that the membership rates are exaggerated or that membership signifies an extremely low rate of true involvement in the movement or both.

A similar indication was given by the Reform movement's strong campaign to dominate the American delegation to the World Zionist Congress. After an intensive campaign that lasted many months and required nothing more than signing on to be counted in support of the Reform delegation to the Congress, the Reform delegates received about 50,000 votes. For a movement that claims a membership of 30 to 40 times that amount it is a poor showing, although it made up about half of all the votes cast in America to elect the Zionist delegation.

Birthright Israel trips, sponsored by the Jewish charities in America, are proceeding, though there are cancellations.


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