- Zionist Organization of America
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), founded in 1897, was one of the first official
Zionistorganizations in the United States, and, especially early in the 20th century, the primary representative of the Jews of the United States to the World Zionist Organization, espousing primarily Political Zionism.
Today, the ZOA continues to exist as a prominent pro-
Israelgroup in the United States, with 50,000 current members. A leading Israeli newspaper, Maariv, recently called the ZOA "the most important organization in the American Jewish community today."
The ZOA was founded in 1897 as the Federation of American Zionists, an amalgam of Hebrew societies, Chovevei Zionists and Jewish nationalist clubs that all endorsed the Basle programme. It was established at a Baltimore conference where the constitution was adopted by the delegates with Richard Gottheil elected as president and Stephen S Wise as honorary secretary. [Louis Lipsky (1927) "Thirty Years of American Zionism" Published by Ayer Publishing, 1977 ISBN 0405102631 pp 21-22] The ZOA was founded to support the founding of a sovereign
Jewish homeland. The ZOA was instrumental in mobilizing the support of the U.S. government, Congress, and the American public for the creation of Israel in 1948.
Along with its sister organization
Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, and the Labor Zionist Po'ale Zionparties, and the Religious Zionist Mizrachi, the ZOA served as one of the key voices in early American Zionism, especially as American Jewswere not initially strong supporters of the Zionist movement.
Past presidents have included
Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeisand Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver.
As of 2005, the organization has a national membership of over 50,000. There are active chapters throughout the United States, including
Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, Milwaukee, North Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, South Jersey and Washington, D.C., and Youngstown.
The ZOA today works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, through educational activities, public affairs programs, support for pro-Israel legislation on Capitol Hill, and by combating what it perceives as anti-Israel bias in the media, textbooks, travel guides, and on campuses. The ZOA's Law and Justice Department has also been at the forefront of legal efforts to combat campus anti-Semitism.
The ZOA also sponsors educational and cultural programs in Israel. The "ZOA House" is a noted cultural center in
Tel Aviv. The ZOA is responsible for founding the Kfar Silver school, which provides education and vocational training for new Jewish immigrants and others on a convert|500|acre|km2|sing=on campus near Ashkelon. The ZOA's youth division sponsors one of the largest programs for sending young Jews to visit Israel.
The current president, for life, of the ZOA is
Louis Lipsky (1927) "Thirty Years of American Zionism" Published by Ayer Publishing, 1977 ISBN 0405102631 (The first 30 years of the ZOA)
* [http://www.zoa.org ZOA Website]
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