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Conservative Judaism begun to make its presence known in Israel before the 1960s. Today, there are over 40 congregations with over 12,000 affiliates In 1962 the Jewish Theological Seminary of American (JTS) began creating Neve Schechter, the university's Jerusalem campus. This center houses the Schocken Center for Jewish Research, and the Saul Lieberman Institute for Talmudic Research. In 1975 a new rabbinical school curriculum instituted a year of study in Israel as a requirement for every rabbinical student in JTS and the University of Judaism's rabbinical seminary.
In 1979 JTS Chancellor Gerson Cohen announced the creation of the Masorti (Traditional) movement as Israel's own indigenous Conservative movement, with its own executive director, board and executive committee.
The Masorti movement created MERCAZ, a Zionist party within the structure of the World Zionist Organization. The Conservative movement is thus officially represented in the centers of decision making within the Zionist movement. The Masorti movement sponsors youth groups, an overnight camp, a system of day camps, Kibbutz Hanaton and its Education Center and Moshav Shorashim, and special programs teaching new Russian and Ethiopian olim (immigrants) basic Judaism. It is involved in many issues promoting the legitimate rights of non-orthodox, traditional Jews.
MERCAZ is the Zionist organization of the Conservative Movement, and represents Conservative/Masorti Jews the world over. Its goals include pressing for religious pluralism, working for an equitable distribution of funding from the World Zionist Organization Jewish Agency for Conservative Zionist programs in Israel and America, promoting civil rights in Israel for all people, encouraging electoral reform in Israel, and opposing any change in "Who Is a Jew" and "Law of Return".
MERCAZ is a member of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel, both of which have been designated by the Knesset as channels of communication and influence between Diaspora Jewry and the government of Israel. Through these institutions MERCAZ works with on issues such as aliyah and absorption, education, young leadership, and community affairs.
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