The Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel

To expand the personal and communal engagement between Conservative-Masorti Jews in the U.S. and Israel, we developed a unique and innovative program — Masorti Shabbat –planned around Yom Ha’atzmaut on April 30th.  By late February, over 60 congregations were on board and programming was actively underway.

Then the Coronavirus struck. With the pandemic, the physical distancing lock-down, and a devastating financial crisis, Masorti Shabbat looked doomed.  But for all Masorti activists in the U.S. and Israel, the opportunity of Masorti Shabbat could not be abandoned.  And Masorti’s commitment only grew as we learned that the crisis was pushing Masorti Israel to the brink of financial disaster. This is tragic because the government-sponsored funding and recognition monopoly for Orthodox Judaism means there will be no help for our stricken communities.

And so we converted Masorti Shabbat into Masorti Spring – an online series of engagements and educational experiences between American and Israeli Jews.  All the while, we have not given up on Masorti Shabbat 2020 – read on for details on the resilience of this special program.

Masorti Spring has proven to be a powerful bridge between Jews under lock-down. A chance to learn, sing, pray, and comfort one another.  Among the Masorti Spring online events so far have been:

Stay tuned for future Masorti Spring online programs on the Constitutional Crisis in Israel, Lag BaOmer and Masorti Marriage, Yom Yerushalaim, Shavuot, LGBTQ Pride and many more.

During these very difficult times – when Masorti Israel staff, rabbis and lay leaders faced furloughs, economic hardship, communities in great need, fear and restriction on movement – the Israeli Movement has outdone itself in preserving Masorti Israel life in all of its forms.

While fearing that the Coronavirus crisis would completely shut down the Masorti Shabbat Program for 2020, work on this vital spiritual and engagement program has continued unabated.  Adath Jeshurun in Minneapolis held the first Masorti Shabbat 2020 on April 3, 2020.  Spearheading this program was the Masorti Foundation’s Chair Heidi Schneider, who also was the featured on May 1st at the Kabbalat Shabbat service of the Brothers of Israel Synagogue, Newtown PA.

May 1-3 saw a packed Masorti Weekend at Park Avenue Synagogue (PAS) in New York. Passionate words on the sacred work of Masorti by Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove; a moving Kabbalat Shabbat Dvar Torah by Masorti CEO Yizhar Hess; four PAS girls reflecting on their Bat Mitzvahs at the Masorti Kotel in Jerusalem; and a Fireside Chat with dynamic Masorti and Noam Youth Movement leaders.  These events dug deep into the frightening reality of the Coronavirus’ impact on Jewish life, how Masorti is creatively building programs to meet community needs under lock-down, the government’s discriminatory policies on funding and recognition, and the fundamental solidarity of Israeli and American communities during times of crisis.

Forging ahead, several additional communities have indicated an interest in creating Masorti Shabbats of their own.  Masorti is excited to be working closely with Rabbi Rachel Ain of the Sutton Place Synagogue (SPS) in New York as they organize Masorti Shabbat for May 16th. You can join us live online for Shabbat morning celebrations of Masorti Israel at SPS; the service will be livestreamed.
You can also also join via ZOOM: https://zoom.us/j/93694024251?pwd=dFlwaXREV0NGWWE3cy9QbjNtSU5IZz09

You will need a password, for that contact dfrankel@spsnyc.org

So, Coronavirus or no Coronavirus, the Masorti Movement of Israel perseveres and the story of Masorti, Masorti Spring and Masorti Shabbat continues.