Watch: Saving Jewish Diaspora in Zionist Congress

Rabbi Abadie's list fights to get influence back from non-religious/non-Zionist groups, shaping the future of Jewish identity and Israel.

Eliran Aharon and Ari Yashar , | updated: 10:25 AM

Rabbi Elie Abadie
Rabbi Elie Abadie
Arutz Sheva

Rabbi Elie Abadie, the chairman of the World Sephardic Zionist Organization - Ohavei Zion, told Arutz Sheva about his group's campaign in the World Zionist Congress (WZC) elections and its efforts to protect the Jewish identity of the Diaspora and of Israel.

The rabbi, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon and grew up in Mexico City before going on to be the founding rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue in New York, said "for many years the Sephardic community did not have a representation in the congress."

To counter that trend, Rabbi Abadie this year brought together a group of concerned Jews in founding Ohavei Zion.

Speaking about the reason he is seeking entry into the WZC, he noted that the body can influence policy in Israel, and also can determine the destination of massive funds both to Israel and from it.

WZC decides where its considerable funding is channeled to within Israel, he pointed out, adding that "for the first time Israel set aside hundreds of millions to distribute in the Diaspora for Jewish education and Jewish identity," funds which the WZC will direct in the US.

Confronted with assimilation, Rabbi Abadie called on Zionist Jews in America to participate in the elections "so that we can have a say in the future of the state of Israel as a Jewish state," and determine the distribution of funds supporting Jewish education.

Emphasizing the platforms of his slate, one of only two religious Zionist slates and the only Sephardi one, he noted "we believe in the sanctity of the land of Israel, we believe in Israel as a Jewish state," and setting aside money and resources for Jewish Zionist education.

Both Israel and the Diaspora are "at a crossroads," according to the rabbi, who noted that the Jewish state is facing pressure both from abroad and from anti-Zionist movements within the state that would like to see Israel "as a secular state or a state of its citizens."

Rabbi Abadie said that in the previous WZC elections five years ago, 80% of the delegates "were from groups that did not value our tradition, did not believe much in Torah values the way we know they are...(and) did not believe in the Zionist dream as the dream of the Jewish people, as a Jewish state."

We "must block them from majority of seats," he said, calling for a change in the make-up and focus of the World Zionist Congress.