November 5 2015 / 23 Heshvan 5776
- From the President's Desk: Rabbi Daniel Freelander on Celebrating the Global Reform Community
- WUPJ's Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowship to be Embraced at 2015 URJ Biennial
From the President's Desk: Rabbi Daniel Freelander on Celebrating the Global Reform Community
We are all excited to gather at the Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) 2015 Biennial in Orlando, Florida and look forward to meeting you there. We wanted to take this opportunity to update you on all the WUPJ special events and activities that will be taking place during Biennial.
The WUPJ BOOTH will be open from Wednesday, November 4 until Saturday, November 7. Please make sure to visit, and bring your friends with you.
The WUPJ is sponsoring three workshops at Biennial. We are looking forward to interesting, informative and interactive discussions and hope that you will join us to show your support for our WUPJ lay leaders and staff.
On Thursday afternoon, the WUPJ Executive Board and North American Advisory Board will meet from 12:30-2:00 pm. These discussions are open to all WUPJ delegates.
At the Friday morning Plenary, at 8:45-10:15 am, Rabbi Freelander will be presented with the Debbie Friedman Award for his lifelong commitment to Jewish music and the Reform Movement. The Plenary will open with a conversation between Stav Shaffir, Israeli Knesset member; Ari Shavit, Ha'aretz columnist and Rabbi Eric Yoffie, URJ President Emeritus.
Kabbalat Shabbat (5:45 pm) will be followed by Shabbat Dinner.
On Shabbat Morning from 8:30- 9:45 am, Rabbi Steve Burnstein, Director of WUPJ's Saltz International Education Center, will lead a Torah Study breakfast with Saltz Alumni. This session is open to all and will be a wonderful opportunity for Saltz and Beutel alumni to study together again.
There is so much to experience at this Convention. We are thrilled to learn that US Vice President Joe Biden will address the group on Saturday evening.
Rabbi Daniel Freelander
President, World Union for Progressive Judaism
The Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowship is a collaboration between the URJ, the WUPJ, the Global Leadership Project of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), and the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ).
This unique program nurtures and inspires young leaders, ages 20-26, from North America, Israel, and Europe as they continue to serve their camps and home communities as active change agents who are committed to global Progressive Judaism, Jewish peoplehood, and Israel.
The current Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellows come from the United States, Israel, Hungary, Poland, Germany, and Belarus, and were nominated by URJ camp directors, the IMPJ and the WUPJ.
During the URJ Biennial in Florida, the fellows will see the leadership of the Reform Movement coming together to focus on today's most pressing issues. Their time in Florida will be divided between programs planned specifically for the Klal Yisrael Fellowship and sessions in which they will participate with other Biennial participants.
The WZO reported having 509 elected delegates among about 750 overall, including 145 elected in the spring from the United States. The global International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists (ARZENU) bloc held 78 seats. The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA) won 56 seats, or 40 percent of the US total.
The World Zionist Congress is the single best opportunity for Jews from around the world to have their voices heard on critical issues facing Israel and the Jewish People.
The Progressive bloc carried the day with many of its resolutions passing. In the world of Zionist politics, presence is power. Progressive Judaism's triumph in the elections this past winter and spring empowered duly elected representatives to advance important causes and defend a Progressive Zionist perspective.
One particular highlight was Phillip Meltzer, ARZA Past President and Campaign Vice-Chair, receiving the Amit Kavod award, and serving as president for the Congress Presidium.
Click here for the highlights!
An historic statement supporting the LGBT community was passed. It called upon the World Zionist Organization (WZO) and the Education Minister of Israel to support and develop educational programming for the LGBT community and to “enforce complete equality of their admission to Zionist entities and within National Institutions.”
The Reform/Progressive delegations to the Congress did not succeed in passing every resolution they had hoped to. However, most delegates came out of the voting booths with a renewed sense of pride that the vision of a strong, proud, pluralistic, and inclusive State of Israel is alive and well.
Purely Progressive Adventure: Update from Netzer's Leadership Training Program
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.
Check out some Bat-Mitzvah highlights here.
Meanwhile, the Northern Shnat group bonded over the customary Klita (orientation) process, conducted in Jerusalem, at Beit-Shmuel/Mercaz Shimshon.
The Northern Shnatim had the opportunity to meet with leaders of the Israeli Progressive Movement, including members of Kol Haneshama- the biggest Progressive congregation in Jerusalem.
Not to be outdone, three of Southern Shnatim joined the 37th WZO Congress. This was a great opportunity for them to spend time with the new Northern Shnat group, share their experiences and dispense with some worthwhile advice.
Stay tuned for full program details…
On November 29, 2015 you are cordially invited to attending the grand opening of Keren Or's new synagogue and community center.
One could say that the Liberal synagogue in Lyon had become a victim of its success.
Within 30 years, the community has grown from a few local families to not having enough seats for members during festivals or when a Bar/Bat Mitzvah is celebrated.
On occasion, even a standard Shabbat service is standing room only!
Since the present location, on the ground floor of a residential building, no longer corresponds to the needs of the community, Keren Or signed for the purchase of new premises in Villeurbanne, near the Charpennes metro station in September 2014.
The sizeable premises are for a sizeable project: rooting Liberal Judaism in Lyon and the surrounding regions and then developing it. An ambitious undertaking to be sure, but a costly one as well.
Keren Or invites WUPJ members to visit a website dedicated to recording every aspect of the transition to a new home. At a time when Judaism in France is asserting its right to exist freely, Keren Or's expansion is more than encouraging, it's inspirational.
The BOG also discussed the increase in Aliya; efforts to strengthen young Jews’ connections to Israel; programs to promote coexistence in Israel and
"Our hearts bleed as we recall the fact that this heinous murder was supposedly committed in the name of the Torah. We condemn any attempt to hinder the democratic fabric in Israel in the name of our Jewish tradition. Only in a truly democratic society that respects and defends human rights, will our timeless Jewish values be fulfilled. Only the fortification and reinforcement of Israeli democracy will ensure the future of the Jewish people and all Israeli citizens, in their sovereign homeland…"
Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), expressed concern: "The years which have gone by [since the assassination] have not bode well for the quality of public and political discourse in Israel, to put it mildly. The discourse has turned more violent, extreme and inciting, and the fringes consume not only the corners of the central camp and the majority of Israel, but rather the heart of the camp."
The Jerusalem campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's (HUC-JIR) Ordination and Academic Convocation will take place on Thursday, November 19, 2015 at the worldwide headquarters of the Progressive Movement, Beit Shmuel/Mercaz Shimshon Beit Shmuel.
Five new rabbis for Israel's Reform Movement will be ordained:
On October 28, 2015, Pope Francis affirmed, "We are brothers" on the 50th anniversary of the proclamation of Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Church’s Relation to Non-Christian Religions.
During his weekly general audience at St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father welcomed followers of various religions, including many who had traveled a great distance to meet with him on this historic day.
Among those personally welcomed by the Pope were Rabbi Professor Walter Homolka PhD, PhD DHL, Rector of the WUPJ-affiliated Abraham Geiger College and a World Union Executive Board member.
Pope Paul VI promulgated Nostra Aetate on October 28, 1965.
Nostra Aetate effectively overturned centuries of what the noted French Jewish historian Jules Isaac termed “the teaching of contempt,” namely, that the Jewish people as a whole were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus and therefore God had rejected them and revoked their covenant.
The Church’s unequivocal declaration that the Jews should not be held accountable for the death of Jesus and its repudiation of anti-Semitism were truly revolutionary.
The affirmation that “God holds the Jews most dear” and the call for mutual understanding and dialogue inaugurated a new era of positive relationship and engagement that, mere decades before, was inconceivable.
The title of the 2016 Biennial will be ‘Thinking Outside the Book’, continuing where the 2014 conference left off by pushing LJ members to think about the future of the Liberal movement in ways that can build on its heritage and history.
The aim of the Biennial weekend is to combine study with practical explorations of what it means to enliven and enrich the Jewish lives Liberal community members.
Of course, the social aspect of Biennial is always an essential part of the weekend, with plenty of opportunities to see old friends and make new ones, learn, discuss, share, sing and pray in a warm and friendly environment.
Rabbi Charley Baginsky is chair of the Biennial Organizing Committee.
"Say No to the Intifada of the Media": Leading French Liberal Rabbi Responds to International Press Coverage of Israel
On October 16, 2015, Rabbi Boissière gave a memorable sermon on the Sabbath of Parashat Noah in the Beaugrenelle synagogue of the Mouvement Juif Libéral de France (MJLF).
Below, are a few excerpts:
"I invoke Spinoza who said to not laugh, to not cry, but to understand. Note that we are far from doing so. Instead of offering factual analysis or even a bit of background information, the media seems interested only is whether or not a third intifada has begun. They are obsessed with empty slogans, hashtags, and the sensationalism of recurrent dramatic acts and so have relegated any attempt at explanations to the back burner."
"Yes, my dear old Noah, I am sorry to have pushed you aside but then your flood is not our flood. Yet, it has much to teach us about how maliciousness and ill-naming things may wipe out a civilization, whether it be by a great flood or a slow fire."
November 5, 2015 - International Humanitarian Award Dinner Honouring Rabbi Lenny Thal & Installation of Rabbi Daniel Freelander, URJ Biennial Conference, Orlando, Florida
November 8–12, 2015 - Southern Jewish Civil Rights Experience, Atlanta, Georgia - For Registration Please Click Here