Revamped Zionist Federation will offer forum for dialogue on Israel

Organisation hopes to be active once more after two-year break to sort out finances


Leading the return of the Zionist Federation: Rabbi Lea Muhlstein

More than hundred delegates attended the first Zionist Federation conference since it was forced to reorganise itself because of financial difficulties.

Two years ago the organisation had to lay off staff and suspend most of its activities as it sought to put itself on a more stable footing.

Proposals to reconstitute the federation — which was founded in 1899 — as a non-profit limited company have now been approved.

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein, who has been acting chair and is one of nine directors appointed, said, “We have tried to clear the debt, make sure that member organisations are paying their membership fees and get new articles as a non-profit organisation.”

Sunday’s conference was the first attended by the new Eretz Hakodesh, a group catering for the right of the Orthodox community.

“It was quite something to have Orthodox rabbis… attend an event chaired by a Liberal rabbi,” she said.

Rabbi Muhlstein said there was “a real need for a space that organises events that brings diverse views on Israel together”. The organisation aimed to hold regular events on “an Israel-related topic presenting different views. It is important that we can have a dialogue on Israel even if we don’t agree.”

While the federation had previously organised “great” programmes like Israel Science Week, she said, that might be difficult to do at present in light of the Israel-Hamas War. “I’m not sure if there are many non-Jewish schools that would host an Israeli speaker right now,” she said. “But we hope to restore successful programmes like this soon.”

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