UJCL celebrates uplifting convention
The XIII Convention of the Union of Latin American and Caribbean Jewish Congregations (UJCL), which took place January 25 - 29 in Guadalajara, Mexico, was a wonderful and uplifting celebration of everything and anything that is Jewish in the region.
One hundred and fifty people, representing 16 different countries participated in the convention, hosted by Comunidad Hebrea de Guadalajara, Mexico. Led by Rabbi Joshua Kullock, who is also the Executive Director of the UJCL, the congregation spared no efforts to ensure the convention combined flawless efficiency with warmth and family-like togetherness. Shabbat services were conducted in the CHG’s wonderful synagogue-center facility – including a prayer hall which accommodated over 150 conference delegates, classrooms and meeting rooms, a large kitchen which was used repeatedly for communal meals (remarkably, every week the congregation hosts a pot-luck dinner for over 50 people - testifying to the family role the congregation plays in the lives of its congregants) and a lovely outdoor patio area which is often in use given the sunny Guadalajara weather.
The convention focused on several key issues which are of vital relevance and importance to Jewish communities in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Speakers include prominent international Jewish personalities, who provided the audience with a wealth of incisive and informative insights and understanding of the issues, such as the dynamics of small communities, Judaism, and pluralism.
Among the outstanding moments of the convention were the opening night that took place at the Caba?as Cultural Institute – World Heritage of Mankind, and the unforgettable gala dinner at City Hall with Mayor (Presidente Municipal) Francisco Ay?n L?pez.
World Union leaders were well represented on the UJCL program. Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs, WUPJ President, had several prominent roles, speaking on the opening night of the convention on the topic of Interfaith Dialogue, and presenting a masterful Beit Midrash text study. Rabbi Joel Oseran, WUPJ VP International Development, was asked by the convention organizers to address the topic of Interfaith Marriage, in light of the fact that more and more families in the region are impacted by this phenomenon. Miriam Vasserman, WUPJ – Latin America President; Raul Gottlieb, VP WUPJ Latin America; Jerry Tanenbaum, WUPJ Executive Board member and Chair of Yad B’Yad; Steve Breslauer, WUPJ Executive Board member and Treasurer of Yad B’Yad; Steve Olson, Yad B’Yad and Chair of Mission to Latin American Convention in Buenos Aires in August, were all active in the conference program as well.
Participants at the Caba?as Cultural Institute
The World Union also figured in prominently during UJCL working/reporting sessions. In the presentation of youth and young adult programming, the important contribution which Netzer Olami has given to the UJCL was mentioned. Netzer and TaMaR Spanish desk Shaliach, Yuval Nemirovsky, attended the Guadalajara conference and worked on future programming issues with UJCL leaders. In past years Netzer provided a youth Shaliach who worked with the UJCL congregation in Panama and with the entire region for camps and seminars. UJCL young adult programming is being enriched by our WUPJ TaMaR division staff, with plans to increase TaMaR cooperation in the future.
As has become tradition, the outgoing President of the UJCL (2010-2012), Mr. Eduardo Moel, of the Jewish Community of Guadalajara, transferred power to the incoming President elect, Mr. Ricardo Stanley, of the Jewish Community of El Salvador, who will exercise his mandate for the period 2012-2014.
Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs, WUPJ President, speaking at the Convention
The UJCL, established in 1998, is dedicated to strengthening and connecting over 15 Progressive and Conservative Jewish congregations from Mexico to Columbia, including Central America and the Caribbean.
One of the unique features of the UJCL is the uncommon integration of both Progressive and Masorti affiliations – a true expression of religious pluralism in an age of growing division and radicalization in the Jewish world.
The convention was a wonderful example of how this religious pluralism works. In total, there were 19 Masorti and Progressive rabbis attending the convention – another demonstration of commitment to the UJCL and its mission.
The XIV Convention of the Union of Jewish Congregations of Latin American and the Caribbean will take place in 2014 in Costa Rica, hosted by the B’nei Israel Congregation, San Jose.
Click here for a video from the Convention.
Click here for recordings of the meeting sessions and some of the workshops.
Click here for the official blog of the event.