‘Incoming President’ is an interesting title and I think now that I am coming to the end of my year in this role I am finally beginning to understand what it means – a total immersion in the life of Masorti Olami in an effort to begin to understand what the Masorti world really looks like in all its different guises.
I have been involved in the formation and development of Masorti Europe for many years and that experience has helped me to recognise how variable the demands and needs are of different communities in different countries. What I have also come to recognise is that overall the aims and values of these communities and those around the rest of the Masorti world are also extremely similar and so the real task is to find ways to join these two parts of the puzzle together.
My journey this year has taken me from leadership training at the Masorti Europe board meeting in Marseille to an Atid conference in Buenos Aires and recently to the House of Lords in London. Those present were privileged to hear our own ‘Masorti’ Lord – Maurice Glassman in conversation with Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg on the way that Jewish ethics and moral values have and can continue to influence the way the government – and by extension – the rest of the world operate.
We sometimes fall into the trap of identifying ourselves in negative terms – we are neither Orthodox nor Reform. We all know, but often cannot articulate, the positive values with which we identify ourselves in declaring our Masorti/Conservative affiliation. We are a halachic movement, true to our Jewish historical roots based on Torah and Talmud yet we live in the modern world; we accept and engage in understanding science and wider knowledge and we act to try to improve society as a whole. Over the past year I have been struck by the commitment of individuals and Masorti communities to Jewish learning, to caring for the weaker members of our society and working towards creating a just and compassionate world. These are values that we would like to hope are at the heart of Masorti Judaism. Masorti Olami provides a channel to reinforce these values through the mutual support and encouragement communities worldwide can provide to one another.
I have been extremely privileged to have had the opportunity to work with Alan Silberman over the past several years and look forward to continuing to work with him for many years to come The contribution of the staff around the world, led by Rabbi Tzvi Graetz, in leading and organising the day-to-day world of Masorti Olami is the bond that keeps us together and we thank them for their commitment to the work that they do. I would also like to thank all the members of the EOC and the Board of Masorti Olami for all the work that they do and also for their faith in my ability and I look forward to their continuing help.
Everything that Masorti Olami wants and needs to accomplish is only possible thanks to those people who support the work that is being done to increase and strengthen our movement across the world. We thank you for your ongoing commitment and encouragement.