Photo Credit: Dudi Vaknin / Flash 90
Young American Jews participating in a Birthright event in Jerusalem, 2017

It’s taken months of hard work, but this year the Orthodox Israel Coalition (Mizrachi) and Eretz Hakodesh groups in the United States have dramatically increased the number of delegates they will send to the World Zionist Congress – an important event that takes place every five years.

In 2015, the Orthodox Israel Coalition (Mizrachi) equaled the Conservative movement’s voter share with 17 percent of the delegate mandates.


But this time, The OIC won 18 percent, and the new religiously Orthodox Eretz Hakodesh group won 16 percent of the vote. As part of that sector, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) coalition also won more than triple the votes in this year’s election – 10,313 mandates and eight percent of the vote — than it did in 2015, when the ballots numbered 2,738.

Between all the Orthodox and right-leaning groups, their percentage is over 50 percent representation with some 62,000 votes to the Reform/Conservative/Progressive’s 54098 votes, out of approximately 123,000 votes.

Diaspora Jewry makes up the second third of the delegates sent to the Congress.

The delegation from Israel comprises the final third of the delegates to the World Zionist Congress, which meets once every five years in Jerusalem.

The Congress oversees the distribution of some $5 billion in funds over a five-year period in Israel and the Diaspora. In addition, the Congress appoints board members to other Jewish organizations, such as the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and the World Zionist Organization.

Voter turnout among all the established US parties was exceptionally high this year. But the distribution of the vote has radically changed; there has been a shift towards the right and Orthodox Jewry that requires a new understanding of who really represents “American Jews.” It may even require a redefinition of who is an American Jew.

The Reform movement’s slate finished in first place; but that sector earned just 25 percent of the vote, as compared with the 39 percent it garnered in 2015. The voter share of the Conservative movement likewise dropped, from 17 percent in 2015, to only 12 percent this time around. The Hatikva coalition of progressive Jewish groups barely inched ahead from its voter share of five percent in 2015, to six percent this month.

This year’s election, organized by the American Zionist Movement, saw 123,000 people cast their ballots — more than double the number of voters who took part in 2015.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.