Rabbi Lea’s role will see her ensure that the interests of ARZENU’s constituent groups in 14 countries around the world, as well Progressive Jews more generally, are represented within the governing bodies of the Israel’s National Institutions. These are the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and Keren Hayesod.
The position makes Rabbi Lea the only British representative, and the only person under 40, on the executive of the Jewish Agency.
Rabbi Lea said: “It is a great privilege for me to have been elected as the international chair of ARZENU and I am grateful to my community, Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue, for allowing me to take on this volunteer position.
“I am deeply committed to being a vocal and effective advocate for our Progressive values within the National Institutions and using them as a vehicle to bring about real change in the State of Israel.”
Two issues that Rabbi Lea and ARZENU have been dealing with most recently are the ongoing negotiations with the government of Israel over an egalitarian section at the Kotel and opposition to the deportation of African asylum seekers without due process. ARZENU, alongside its coalition partners, secured solid majorities for resolutions on both of these issues at last month’s meetings of the Jewish Agency.
Other aspects of ARZENU’s work focus on fostering the development of Reform/Progressive Judaism in Israel, as well as working for an authentic Jewish pluralism in Israel through elimination of all legislation and other measures which discriminate against non-Orthodox Judaism.
Rabbi Lea added: “As a passionate Zionist, I believe we must lead by example and work hard to ensure a positive future for the WZO and the National Institutions.
“I am therefore prioritising bringing more young people into the conversation, seeing them actively involved and empowering them to take on leadership roles.
“In addition, I believe the Progressive movement must set a positive example in promoting women within the Zionist movement.
“I hope that my work as ARZENU chair will also provide a great opportunity to strengthen the UK’s involvement in the international work of promoting Progressive Religious Zionism.”