Membership has its privileges, especially for a Russian community fighting for respect and full participation in American Jewish life.Another step along that road was reached last week when the American Zionist Movement accepted the application of Russian American Jews for Israel for membership.
“We were looking for the opportunity to reach a large target population — the Russian-Jewish community — that has strong ties to Israel, and we were excited that RAJI expressed a desire for full membership in the AZM,” said Karen Rubenstein, executive director of AZM. RAJI, a national organization, was founded two years ago to mobilize the Russian-speaking community in support of Israel.
“For Russian Jews, Israel is the core of their Jewish identity, so they are clearly a really good population to energize and get involved in the work of the AZM,” Rubenstein said. RAJI President Igor Branovan sees RAJI’s ascension into the AZM as “a coming of age for the Russian community. We see this as an accomplishment for our community — that we will now have a say in decision-making regarding the WZO and Jewish Agency — and as a challenge. It is up to us to prove to our American Jewish colleagues that we are prepared to become active participants in the American Zionist movement and to act responsibly while speaking out in support of the Jewish state.”