October 22 2015 / 9 Heshvan 5776
Between October 20 and October 22, close to 700 representatives of world Jewry convened in Jerusalem for the 37th World Zionist Congress.
190 delegates from Israel attended the Congress, along with 145 representatives from the United States and 165 from the rest of the world.
Speaking Out: Israeli Premier Benjamin
Netanyahu at the 37th WZO Congress.
Out of 30 countries represented in the World Zionist Organization (WZO), the Reform Movement has constituent ARZENU (International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists) organizations in 14 countries. ARZENU is the umbrella organization for all Reform Zionist organizations worldwide.
"Unlike other groups in the World Zionist Organization, the Israeli Reform Movement has no formal representation in the Israeli Government. Therefore, it is ARZENU that provides the Israeli Movement with a conduit to power through the three national Zionist Institutions. On behalf of Reform Jews in Israel and throughout the world, we strive to promote our Reform values of democratic accountability, religious pluralism and pursuit of peace," said ARZENU President Rabbi Lawrence Englander.
Later in the day, WZO delegates visited Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to witness the country's vibrant democracy in action first hand. Participants also had the opportunity to meet and speak with Israeli government ministers about the current wave of terror that Israel is dealing with, among other issues.
On Monday evening, delegates recognized three longstanding Zionist activists from the Reform movement whose devoted service merited special recognition. Those honored were Menachem Leibovich, Nelson Kuperman and Rabbi Stanley Davids. WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander closed the evening with a heartfelt presentation covering the latest developments and changes taking place within the World Union.
WZO Reception at Beit Shmuel: Among the guest speakers
was Yitzhak "Bougie" Herzog, head of the Israeli
Labor party and leader of the opposition.
Thanks, WZO: (left to right) ARZA President Rabbi Josh
Weinberg and WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander
perform at Beit Shmuel along with Peri Smilow.
Representatives to the 37th World Zionist Congress joined old friends and new ones for good food, drink and conversation.
From April 14 – 17, 2016, the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) will explore how to build and develop vital relationships to both strengthen the Progressive Jewish world and with the wider communities around us.
Building bridges, between Jewish communities, with other faiths and the wider society, is the backdrop against which the exciting 2016 EUPJ London Biennial Conference will take place.
At the EUPJ Conference, participants will have the opportunity to meet fellow Progressive Jews from Europe and around the world and find out more about their Jewish world and the challenges they face.
By building bridges, Conference goers will have that chance to recharge their Jewish batteries and return to their own communities refreshed and energized.
In addition, the 2016 EUPJ London Biennial Conference will explore inter and intra faith issues, the challenges facing the Progressive community's relationship with Israel, community building and leadership development.
Conference attendees will also have the opportunity to meet the heads of Progressive rabbinic seminaries across the world.
Simply Awesome: During the 2016 EUPJ London Biennial
Conference, Kabbalat Shabbat will be held inside
the West London Synagogue.
Program highlights include:
- Opening Ceremony to be held at the Guildhall, one of London’s oldest and most beautiful buildings.
- Kabbalat Shabbat in the magnificent sanctuary of West London Synagogue, and on Shabbat morning service and lunch at the impressive Liberal Jewish Synagogue.
- Celebration time: 90 years of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) and 60 years of the Leo Baeck College
- Experiencing the wonderful sights and sounds of London and its residents.
Immediately prior to the beginning of the EUPJ Conference, the WUPJ Travel Program will be conducting a pre-conference trip entitled: Berlin to London: Celebrating 90 Years of the WUPJ. Led by WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander, this trip will orient participants to the rich history of Reform Judaism in Germany and the dynamic inroads of Progressive Judaism in Berlin during the past few decades.
Participants will learn about the amazing success of Berlin's Abraham Geiger College in training rabbis and cantors for the next generation of Jews in Europe. The trip will also visit the Holocaust Museum and historic sites in berlin as well.
Taking place April 7-13, this is a perfect addition to the European Union for Progressive Judaism's Biennial Conference in London.
Reserve your space now for the 2016 EUPJ Biennial Conference and benefit from the Early Bird discount, applicable until January 31, 2016.
Indeed, the major deliberations on all the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s were held in the conference room of the RAC. Beginning with Martin Luther King, Jr., leaders of all relevant groups and national religious bodies participated in these meetings.
Honorary Life President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch, the Religious Action Center's founding Director, reflected on this turbulent era in American history, noting that, "I came to know the leaders of these organizations personally and discovered that in essence the black community was no different from the Jewish community."
Civil Rights Leader: Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch.
Regarding the historic August 28, 1963 March on Washington, Rabbi Hirsch notes that the social action leadership of the Reform movement, "…decided that we had to make a positive judgement and urged our colleagues to participate with full energy and commitment. Our Center became the headquarters for the Jewish participation in the March."
Regarding today's great civil rights issues, Rabbi Hirsch asserts, "What we desperately require are leaders who are passionate advocates for social justice, but who also understand that in a democracy the active participation of a majority is essential for social progress. To achieve a majority requires a willingness to consider the validity of divergent views, and to seek compromise.
An excerpt from Rabbi Hirsch's powerful eulogy to Dr. King sums up the role of Tikkun Olam as a guiding force in the Southern Jewish Civil Rights experience:
"Martin Luther King would have us build a society that will know that man's spiritual needs cannot be isolated from his material needs, that the real blight of our time is not poverty, but a nation that passively accepts poverty, not unemployment, not the impassioned racist, but the dispassionate average man who sits as a spectator high above the arena of life."
By Rabbi Tom Cohen, founding rabbi of the French-American synagogue of Paris, the WUPJ-affiliated Kehilat Gesher.
"The terrorist attacks in Paris last January suggested to some French Jews that they try to find a safer haven elsewhere. For many others, however, these traumas have only reinforced the desire to continue building a proud Liberal Jewish community in France that is faithful to the prophetic dream of being a light unto the nations.
Even before that tragedy, in 2014, my wife and I had established a Jewish summer camp. Its seeds were planted many years earlier at URJ Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI), the Union for Reform Judaism’s camp in Oconomowoc, WI.
Je Suis Un Juif: Camp MahaNetzer connects French
teenagers to Jewish identity and Israel.
In her youth, my wife Rabbi Pauline Bebe spent a joyful and memorable summer at OSRUI. Upon her return home to Paris, she dreamt that one day she would be able to share that experience with other French teenagers.
Years later at a URJ Biennial, Pauline reconnected with OSRUI’s longtime director, Jerry Kaye. That encounter rejuvenated her dream. For several summers thereafter, Pauline and I brought French kids to OSRUI to immerse them in the Jewish camping experience. Then, in 2014, we established MahaNetzer, a contraction of the Hebrew words Mahane (camp) and Netzer (sprout, shoot, or branch). The name of our camp also plays on the fact that Netzer is the name used for Reform Jewish youth groups in countries outside of North America.
Summer Fun under the French Sun: 2015
Camp MahaNetzer group shot.
The first year, our 30 campers came mainly from Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, and Geneva. This past summer, we had nearly 70 campers, coming not only from all over France but also from Switzerland, Belgium, and as far away as Scotland, Turkey, and the United States. It was held at a quaint little Burgundy hamlet with the most improbable of names – Baigneux-les-Juifs (“The Little Bath Houses – the Jews”) – situated just 90 kilometers South of Troyes, birthplace of, the great Talmudic and Biblical commentator Rashi.
Sometimes all it takes to accomplish a dream is just to get started…"
Learn more about French Progressive Jewish camp life by reading Rabbi Cohen's complete blog piece here. From November 4 - 8, the Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) 2015 Biennial will bring Jews from across North America together to learn, pray, share ideas, dance and sing, hear from inspiring speakers and leaders of the Reform movement from around the world.
The WUPJ will play an important role in this crucial gathering of lay leaders, professionals, clergy, youth leaders, and up-and-coming congregational leadership.
Approximately 70 WUPJ-affiliated delegates representing the Former Soviet Union, United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, Brazil, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Australia will be taking an active part in the biennial's scheduled programming.
In addition, a "WUPJ Information Booth" at the Kikar Biennial Town Square will be open throughout the conference.
Below, is a summary of the World Union's itinerary at the 2015 URJ Biennial:
November 4, 1:30-2:45 pm: Workshop on Klal Yisrael: Building Bridges with Reform Jewish Communities around the World
November 5, 12:30 – 2:15 pm: WUPJ Executive Board & NAAB Meetings
November 5, 6:15 – 8:00 pm: Gala Dinner Celebrating World Reform Jewry
Dinner in support of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Highlights to include International Humanitarian Award (IHAD) presented to Rabbi Lennard Thal and Installation of WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander. Evening will also include special international guests. Registration required.
November 6, Friday morning: WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander to receive The Debbie Friedman Award for his lifelong commitment to Jewish Music and the Reform Movement
November 6, 11:15 am – 12:30 pm: Workshop on: Connecting Russian-Speaking Jews with Progressive Judaism
November 6, 2:15-3:30 pm: Workshop on: Responding to Anti-Semitism in Eastern and Western Europe
November 7, Shabbat Morning, 8:30 am-9:45: My Roots are on Both Sides of the Sea: Torah Study with WUPJ Beutel Seminar & Saltz Alumni, led by WUPJ's Anita Saltz
International Education Center, Director Rabbi Steve Burnstein
It's not too late to register for this Reform Jewish happening in Orlando, Florida, USA.
Hope to see you at the Biennial!
17 participants in Netzer Olami's (Reform youth movement) Northern Shnat program arrived in Israel during the second week of October to embark on an 8-month training program for young adults in that will develop the skills and knowledge necessary for them to become madrichim (leaders) in the movement.
Greetings from the Prez: WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel
Freelander (front row, second from left)
visits the Northern 'Shnatties' in Jerusalem.
13 people arrived at Ben Gurion Airport from the United Kingdom; two from Germany and two from the United States. One more Northern Shnat participant will be arriving from the United Kingdom.
Shnat Netzer is an exciting, challenging and stimulating way to spend a year in Israel and to be part of a communal way of life. Participants will broaden their horizons and discover what it means to be Jewish and live in Israel from a Progressive perspective.
Shnat Director Lior Argaman said that, "We welcome the Northern Shnat group to Israel. After five days of orientation at Beit-Shmuel in Jerusalem, the 'Shnatties' are now ready to start the year by staying at Kibbutz Lotan. This may well turn out to be the best year of their lives! We are honored and privileged to have them with us, especially during these turbulent days in Israel. We look forward to supporting the 'Shnatties' throughout their journey." By Andrew Keene, a member of Congregation Shalom in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and a current member of the URJ's Board of Trustees and the WUPJ's Executive Board.
"Ulpan, Hebrew for “instruction,” is a short-term Hebrew-language immersion program that has been offered in universities and on kibbutzim across Israel for more than 50 years.
After 90 hours of instruction, I left the Tel Aviv University ulpan program with far more than enhanced Hebrew skills. My ulpan class was truly a living laboratory of Klal Yisrael, Jewish peoplehood.
The class was diverse in every way. The program included Jewish students of every variety: Reform, Conservative, secular, observant, non-observant, Zionist, atheist. On one extreme was a recent high school graduate taking a gap year in Israel for self-discovery, and on the other end was a 60-year-old Swiss man preparing to make aliyah (move to) to Israel, fulfilling a lifelong dream of living in Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel. The 20 students in my class represented nearly 10 countries, at least five native languages, and 20 entirely unique expressions of Judaism.
In between learning verb conjugations and spelling nuances, the diversity of our class emerged. In fragmented Hebrew, we shared our Jewish experiences and communities with one another, and, as our Hebrew developed, so too did our appreciation for one another’s connections to Judaism and to Israel…"
"Home" is the title of a new showing at Beit Shmuel/Mercaz Shimshon, the international headquarters of the Progressive movement. Beginning on October 22 and running through November 28, the exhibit will display various fascinating aspects of humanity's two basic needs.
Food for Thought: "Home" is currently on display
at Beit Shmuel/Mercaz Shimshon.
Artist Livna Weinbach elegantly portrays such common household items as cooking pots and other kitchenware as well as living spaces and cabinets to hint at the inherent regeneration and continuity to be found in food and shelter.
One comes away from Ms Weinbach's creations with the feeling that the purpose of man's physical existence is to constantly grow and regenerate.
Livna Weinbach, a Jerusalem resident, immigrated to Israel with her family from Yugoslavia. Following her military service, she studied pharmacology at the Hebrew University. Weinbach then worked for many years in clinical pharmacology at Jerusalem's Hadassah Hospital.
Over the years however, she took several courses, training at the Israel Museum and then the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design.
Since retiring, Weinbach has dedicated herself full time to her artistic creations as well as volunteering at the Israel Museum.
Members of Europe's Francophone Progressive communities will be gathering in Brussels from November 13 to November 15 to share and discuss matters of common interest and concern. Leaders, rabbis and other members of fifteen Liberal Jewish communities from France, Switzerland and Luxembourg are expected to attend.
A Time to Unite: The third meeting of Francophone
Liberal Judaism, being held at Beth Hillel in Brussels.
Taking place at the Beth Hillel congregation, this highly anticipated meeting is the third in a series. The first of gathering was held in Lyon (2011). The second conference occurred in Toulouse (2013).
On November 13, program highlights will include workshops about communities facing particularly severe challenges as well as emerging kehilot.
Following Shacharit services on November 14, participants will have the opportunity to pay tribute to the victims of the May 24, 2014 terrorist attack by visiting the Jewish Museum of Belgium. The itinerary for November 15 will include a presentation about the future of Liberal Judaism, to be given by Rabbi Francois Garai of the Liberal Jewish Community of Geneva (GIL) and Rabbi Jonas Jacquelin of the Union of Liberal Judaism of France (ULIF Paris). View the complete third meeting of Francophone Liberal Judaism here.
The United Kingdom's Movement for Reform Judaism appointed Yael Shafritz as Refugee Response Coordinator. This is the first time a UK synagogue movement has appointed someone to coordinate a response to a crisis of this nature.
Crisis Coordinator: Yael Shafritz.
Yael’s role is to bring people together in an effort to provide a stronger, better coordinated and more balanced response to the current crisis. She will support Reform communities, oversee all efforts, partner with existing campaigns and introduce their initiatives to other communities.
Yael said: "this role is a great opportunity to support and further the work our communities are doing to help refugees and asylum seekers and I'm greatly looking forward to being a part of it. My Judaism has always been inspired by a history that encourages compassion for others and I'm proud that Reform Judaism is putting social justice and the support for those in need at its core."
Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner said, "It is fantastic that we will have the benefit of Yael’s experience and passion to support our communities in helping people in such pressing need. I am sure her contribution will be outstanding and I am thrilled to welcome her to the Reform Judaism team."
Read more about this story here.
The musical composition celebrates the life of Bella Hirsch, wife of Honorary Life President of the WUPJ Rabbi Richard G. Hirsch.
Stephen Wise Free Synagogue's Senior Rabbi Ammiel Hirsch, son of Bella and Rabbi Hirsch, donated USD $1800 to the Hatikvah Center in order to help fund the musical production.
Instant Classic: Scott Faigen and Daniel Hyman perform
"Bella" at the Hatikvah Center.
Along with local sponsors, the Hatikvah congregation was able to purchase several musical instruments including a Yamaha Clavinova digital piano.
“Bella” tells the story of how Jewish music developed over the course of centuries in the Former Soviet Union. The target audience is both Jewish and non-Jewish men, women and children who share a love for music and history.
On a monthly basis, students from Kiev Music Institute will present these liturgical compositions, ranging from Levandovsky and Petuchovsky to Debbie Friedman, Jeff Klepper and WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander.
In addition, classical and jazz music written by Jewish composers will also be performed.
Professor Alexander Zlotnyk, Rector of that Institute of Music and President of the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine, recently asserted that the "Bella" program would strengthen the presence of Reform Judaism in the country.
The World Union is pleased to introduce Boaz Ben Chayim as the new General Manager of Beit Shmuel/Mercaz Shimshon.
Boaz brings a wealth of experience to Beit Shmuel. His most recent position was as General Manager of Jerusalem's Dan Boutique Hotel (2007 – 2014). From 2012 – 2014, Boaz was the Chairman of the Jerusalem Hotel Association.
Boaz Ben Chayim, General Manager
of Beit Shmuel/Mercaz Shimshon.
Prior to embarking on a career that has included stints at Jerusalem's famous Prima Kings Hotel, Tirat Bat Sheba Hotel and Ariel Hotel, Boaz earned a B.SC degree in Business Administration, Marketing and Finance from New York University. In addition, Boaz has a degree in Hotel Management from Israel's Technion and a Hotel Manager Certificate from Israel's Ministry of Tourism.
Please welcome Ady Blum as the new Etgar Director. Ady lives in Jerusalem and has been here before as an Etgar Madrich (leader). Later on, while doing his B.Sc. in Economics, Philosophy and Political Science, Ady worked with the Progressive youth movement Noar Telem as the rakaz (coordinator), where he developed the curricula for Garin Mahal (6-week pre-army educational program designed to equip oversees volunteers with all of the tools necessary to succeed in the IDF) and Shnat Sherut (pre-army 'service year' devoted to volunteer work around Israel).
Ady Blum, Etgar Director.
In addition, Ady taught socio-economic issues at the Jaffa Reform Mechina.
Despite his many accomplishments, Ady's true and fundamental love is Humus, especially on Friday afternoon!
Etgar ('Challenge') is a component of the Shnat Netzer program. This program was established in 1994 and is unique to Netzer. Based in Jerusalem, Etgar participants live together in an apartment and combine study with volunteering in Israeli society.
The academic element of the program includes lessons in Jewish and Israeli history, leadership, prayer and Hebrew. In addition, there are weekly field-trips around Israel. Etgar puts a heavy emphasis on the teaching of Hadracha (educational leadership tools).
The entire World Union family extends a hearty 'Mazal Tov!' to Laura and Matthew Sperber, on the occasion of their son Ari's wedding to Tamar Borohovits.
All of Laura and Matthew's children participated in several IMPJ youth and young adult programs including Noar Telem, Project Mechina and Beit Midrash B’Derech.
The leadership and staff of the World Union extend their sincerest condolences to the family of Marty Davis, former Executive Director of the World Zionist Organization. Marty was a true friend of the Progressive movement, a dedicated partner on many joint ventures with the WZO.
Marty was a worthy recipient of the MERCAZ Olami Award for his dedication to Zionism, the World Zionist Organization and world Jewry.
The World Union mourns along with Marty's beloved and devoted wife Terri, their children, Seth, Elana and Barak and their families.
May Marty Davis's memory be for a blessing and may his entire family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion.
The leadership and staff of the World Union extend their sincerest condolences to the family of Nanny ten Brink-de-Lieme, mother of Liberaal Joodse Gemeente (LJG) Amsterdam's spiritual leader Rabbi Menno ten Brink.
Nanny, the widow of Sieg ten Brink, z"l, passed away peacefully on October 7, Rabbi ten Brink's birthday, at the age of 85 after a prolonged illness.
The World Union mourns along with Nanny's two children, five grandchildren, Rabbi ten Brink's wife Riette and their children Daniel, Sharon and Yael.
May Nanny ten Brink-de Lieme's memory be for a blessing and may her entire family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion.
WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander (third from right), greeted community activists from across the Former Soviet Union who had recently arrived for a semester in Israel to take part in the WUPJ's highly successful MASA-accredited program.
During their time in Israel, the students will tour the country, experience local culture and flavor, study Hebrew, volunteer, and participate in classes on Progressive Jewish thought, Zionism, history, and culture, as well as workshops in leadership training.
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November 5, 2015 - International Humanitarian Award Dinner Honouring Rabbi Lenny Thal & Installation of Rabbi Daniel Freelander, URJ Biennial Conference, Orlando, Florida