Frequently Asked Questions about the
World Zionist Congress


What is the World Zionist Congress?

The World Zionist Congress elects the officers and decides on the policies of the World Zionist Organization (WZO). The first Zionist Congress was organized by Theodor Herzl in 1897 in Basel, Switzerland and it has been convened regularly ever since. Since the establishment of Israel, the Congress has always taken place there, and now convenes every five years.


Why Does This Election Matter?

This is the ONLY political arena in Israel where Diaspora Jewry has a seat and the only place where Israeli decision makers must hear us out. We have a voice, and that voice translates into funding. The bigger that voice, the better able we are to allocate funds and influence decisions.

Your vote for MERCAZ allows for our Conservative/Masorti communities in Israel to live the lives we take for granted in the United States, where Conservative conversions are accepted without question, women can read Torah proudly and without fear, and egalitarian minyanim are celebrated.


How does the Congress help fund Conservative/Masorti institutions?

The decisions of the Congress influence hundreds of millions of dollars in funding that is critical to the existence of our Conservative/Masorti communities in Israel and around the world. The larger the MERCAZ delegation, the more influence we have in shaping WZC policy, the share of board representation on The National Institutions (World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency For Israel & Keren Kayement L’Israel aka Jewish National Fund) is larger, and the funding that supports conservative movement programming in Israel is larger. Currently MERCAZ has 2 seats on the WZO board, 3 seats on the KKL board and the JAFI Vice-Chair.


How many delegates are elected to the Congress?

American Jews elect 145 delegates to the Congress, by far the largest contingent from a single country outside of Israel, comprising almost one third of all elected representatives. There are 500 total representatives in the Congress which are divided amongst different countries around the world: 190 representatives come from Israel, 145 from the United States and 165 from the rest of the Diaspora.


What does “Masorti” mean?

The word “Masorti” is derived from the Hebrew word meaning traditional, which emphasizes the Conservative Movement’s motto of tradition and change.


How does MERCAZ represent itself in the Congress?

MERCAZ delegates represent the breadth of the Conservative/Masorti Movement and its partner organizations within the Conservative/Masorti Movement, creating a voice for hundreds of thousands of Jews in our communities across the globe. MERCAZ USA will join its numbers with elected delegates from Conservative movements around the world to have greater weight.


How do I vote?

The election will take place between between January 21, 2020 and March 11, 2020. The vast majority of ballots will be cast online, however a paper ballots can be requested if necessary. If you ‘Pledge to Vote” using the MERCAZ system - we will send you a reminder when the voting period opens as well as periodic updates about the election.


Who is eligible to vote?

Participating in the election is open to anyone who is:

  • Jewish

  • Over 18 years of age as of June 30, 2020

  • Resides permanently in the United States

  • Registers to vote by paying a small fee which helps cover the administrative cost of the elections

  • Accepts the ‘Jerusalem Program’ a short statement that expresses a commitment to Zionism.


Isn’t that a long time from now?

Yes, if you want to get on the MERCAZ list and be reminded to vote – please Pledge to Vote by texting ‘VOTE’ to 917-336-1162 or by filling out this form.