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History of ARZA

The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) was established in 1978 at a Biennial of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now URJ) after nearly 50 years of growing identification by Reform Jews with the national aspirations of the Jewish people and ultimately with the State of Israel.

Inspired by the vision of Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn, and guided by ideological structures shaped by Rabbi David Polish, ARZA was created out of the recognition that in Jewish tradition there is no division between the religious domainand the polity of the Jewish people, and that the religious mandate of our prophetic and rabbinic traditions requires all Jews to participate in the issues and institutions that affect Jewish existence.

ARZA sees Jewish nationalism as a seamless aspect of 21st century Reform Jewish identities, and through instrumentalities such as ARZA's Institute for Reform Zionism, seeks contemporary understandings of Zionism and of Jewish peoplehood.

A membership organization, ARZA is an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism (the umbrella organization for the more than 920 Reform synagogues in North America). ARZA represents the URJ in its dealings with the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel, and is a member of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and of the URJ's Commission on Social Action.

ARZA is a founder of the Israel Religious Action Center, and through its membership dues and advocacy activities is a major source of financial support for the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism.

Current Chairman
Rabbi Bennett Miller

Immediate Past President
Rabbi Robert Orkand 2008-2012

Former Presidents
Rabbi Stanley Davids 2004-2008
Philip Meltzer 1995-2004
Marcia Cayne 1993-1995
Norman Schwartz 1989-1993
Rabbi Charles Kroloff 1984-1989
Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn 1978-1984

Current President
Rabbi Joshua Weinberg

Former Executive Directors
Barbara Kavadias - Interim Acting Executive Director November 2012-August 2013 Rabbi Daniel Allen July 2010-October 2012 
Rabbi Scott Sperling August 2009-June 2010
Elana Paru - Interim Executive Director January to July 2009
Rabbi Andrew Davids 2004-2008
Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch 1992-2004
Rabbi Eric Yoffie 1983-1992
Rabbi Ira Youdovin 1977-1983


Current Chairman,
Rabbi Bennett Miller

Bob Orkand
Immediate Past President,
Rabbi Robert Orkand

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