Issue # 526
December 3 2015 / 21 Kislev 5776
The Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ), encompassing Australia, New Zealand and Asia, has elected Roger Mendelson as its new president during the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held on November 22nd in Sydney, as part of the UPJ gathering (see next article).
Roger is a member of Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne, Victoria, and previously the Vice Chair of the UPJ. He replaces Stephen Freeman of North Shore Temple Emanuel, Sydney, who served as president for the past 3 years.
Once starting his position as President, Roger said:
“After being an Executive Member of the UPJ for 7 years, I am delighted to now become president. Ours is a part of the world which is full of energy and enthusiasm and this energy bubbles over into our congregations and the Progressive Movement generally. We have a tremendous group of people in place and my first challenge is to help build them into a cohesive team. The UPJ has undergone a lengthy strategic review process and our focus will now be on implementation of the key recommendations.
In order to help build the Movement, we need to recruit more people from around the region to work with us and help us and we have started this process.
The most important step we can take is to increase sharing of ideas, resources and people between our congregations. The strong must help the weak and the energetic must help re-energize the disheartened.
Our aim is that the WUPJ will look on our region as a source of growth, innovation and energy.”
From 19-22 November, the Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia, Asia and New Zealand (UPJ) hosted more than 100 people from around the UPJ region at two conferences that ran concurrently in Australia: the Bi-Annual Gathering of UPJ Executive Committee, congregation presidents, rabbis, and Shir Chadash, and the UPJ’s second Jewish music conference.
He shared his wealth of congregational knowledge and insights with the gathering attendees, covering topics such as “Learning from the Best Practices of our Global Partners” and “Tradition and Reform in the 21st Century”.
Shir Chadash attendees benefitted from Rabbi Freelander’s extensive musical credentials as well. In the 1970s, Rabbi Freelander was part of the acclaimed musical group Kol b’Seder. With Cantor Jeff Klepper, he composed many songs, including “Shalom Rav”, “Lo Alecha” and “Modeh Ani”, which are recognized and enjoyed at congregations throughout the world.
A highlight of the two conferences was a havdalah concert held at the Emanuel School, with Rabbi Freelander and his Kol B’Seder colleague Loui Dobin (who currently serves as Executive Director of the Greene Family Camp in Texas). Featuring Shannyn Gelbart, Max Jared, Charlie Kramer and the Shir Chadash choir performing music by Debbie Friedman, the concert celebrated Rabbi Freelander’s recent honor at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial conference in Orlando, at which time he received the Debbie Friedman Award for Contributions to Jewish Music.
(Left to Right): Loui Dobin and Daniel H. Freelander
Also at the concert, the UPJ honored Steve Denenberg, who stepped down as UPJ Executive Director in June 2015. UPJ Past President David Robinson travelled from New Zealand to pay tribute to Steve’s many accomplishments and to thank him for his years of service on behalf of the UPJ Progressive community. The next day at the ARZA AGM, Steve was elected as ARZA’s President. ARZA Australia celebrated being part of the group that helped pass a number of key resolutions at the recent World Zionist Congress (WZC) in Jerusalem at its Annual General Meeting held on Sunday as it celebrated the outstanding achievements of outgoing President, Barbara Ford.
“To have prepared a resolution that was passed by the World Zionist Congress, calling on the Government of Israel to fully implement the Declaration of Independence, was an important and emotional moment” said Ford “Particularly as ARZA Australia ensured that the Zionist Federation of Australia unanimously passed a similar resolution just as year or so ago.”
During a whirlwind two-week visit, Rabbi Freelander spent time in both Melbourne and Sydney, and in addition to his many presentations at the conferences, spoke to numerous groups in the region and gave several interviews with the Australian Jewish News and ABC Radio (podcast of the radio interview will be available after the program airs this Sunday night).
The UPJ welcomes everyone to join them at the UPJ Biennial in Perth on 17-20 November 2016.
Read more on the Articles published by the Australian Jewish News. Please click here to view a YouTube video of the Havdalah Concert at Emanuel School.
Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellow Boglarka Fanni Palko
with Reverand & Mrs. Robert Graetz
Group photo at the Civil Rights Memorial of the
Southern Poverty Law Center
At Birmingham’s Temple Beth Or the group met with Reverend and Mrs. Robert Graetz whose home was bombed due to his involvement in civil rights.
In Selma they met Civil Rights Activist Jo Ann Bland, and then followed in her footsteps crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge. In Freedom Park participants learned firsthand from the charismatic and energetic Reverend Calvin Woods about the boycotts, lunch counter sit-ins and other protests.
Group photo in Selma with Civil Rights Activist Jo Ann Bland
on the steps of the Brown Chapel AME Church
On the last night of the program the group visited Atlanta’s historic Temple which was bombed in an attempt to silence Rabbi Jacob Rothschild’s fiery passion for justice and equality.
The Southern Jewish Civil Rights Journey was a project of WUPJ’s North American Advisory Board (NAAB) Travel Committee headed by Helene Waranch and Phyllis Levy.
We still have open spaces for a few more participants in the WUPJ Beutel Seminar for Progressive Jewish Leadership in Israel February 4-14, 2016 and want to be sure your community benefits from this wonderful opportunity.
Beutel Seminar Participants 2014
Send one or two of your leaders (new, seasoned or potential) for 10-days of learning in Israel with Reform Jewish leaders from around the world. We will grapple with critical issues facing Israel, the Jewish people, and your community.
Financial assistance is available. The seminar cost of $1000 covers hotel, programming and most meals.
Full details about the seminar including the draft schedule and application form are available here The European Progressive Beit Din (religious court) has just returned from Florence where it facilitated the conversions of 33 candidates from Italy and Spain over two days. The Beit Din, based at the Sternberg Centre in London and convened by Rabbi Dr. Jackie Tabick, supports member communities of the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) in welcoming people to Jewish life.
The candidates, who have all undertaken a demanding course of study, came from communities in Calabria, Florence, Milan, Sardinia and Rome with one coming all the way from the Reform community in Valencia. Rabbis Fabian Sborovsky of Menorah Synagogue (Cheshire Reform Congregation) and Dr Andrea Zanardo of Brighton and Hove Reform Synagogue joined Rabbi Dr. Jackie Tabick in sitting on the court.
Rabbi Dr. Jackie Tabick said: “We had a very emotional and successful court in Florence. 33 candidates in two days must be a record! The standard of knowledge and commitment from the candidates was extremely high and it was a privilege to be part of this enormously significant and moving time in their lives. We heard stories of grandmothers lighting candles every Friday night in the basement and a mother-in-law beckoning the young couple into the garden on the day of their wedding so she could put a canopy over them and bless them. And of course, none of that generation understood where these family customs had originated. The group from Rome were so excited that at the end of the day, they spilled out onto the street singing and dancing.”
“I would like to acknowledge the contributions and hard work of the rabbis and staff of the Beit Din and of the Shir Hadash community of Florence over two long days. The impact of their work in creating a compassionate and sensitive welcome cannot be underestimated.”
Fabio Fantini, Vice-President of Rome’s Beth Hillel community said: “What a memorable day we spent all together in Florence! We all left enriched by this beautiful and meaningful experience. Thank you for your help building our community and the Jewish Progressive movement in Italy.”
Previously the European Beit Din has held courts in Slovakia, Spain, Poland as well as in London.
The purpose of the seminar is to help Reform/Progressive Jewish women from around the world learn leadership skills and encourage them to take on leadership roles in their home communities. Travel and registration subsidies are available.
- Learn the "why" and "how" of leadership.
- Meet Reform and Progressive Jewish women from around the world.
- Establish a new global network.
- Develop skills that can be used in their own communities.
The Wilkenfeld Seminar is in honor of Dolores Kosberg Wilkenfeld, an honorary life member of the WUPJ Executive Board and a Past President of Women of Reform Judaism, which represents more than 75,000 Reform Jewish women around the world. She also is a Past President of Congregation Emanu El of Houston, Texas, a congregation of nearly 2000 members. Applications with a letter of endorsement are due by December 31st. If you are visiting Jerusalem, join us at Beit Shmuel, where we offer a variety of tours, courses and shows.
In December, the Beit Shmuel Walking Tours department offers special tours for Channukah in Jerusalem’s old and new neighborhoods. One of these is “Seeing the light – between Chanukah and Christmas” which will take place on the longest night of the year. Walking through the Old City, participants will get a glimpse of the Chanukiyot in the Old City and the Western Wall Tunnels, as well as the elaborately decorated Christmas trees and churches.
Tour in the Jerusalem Neighborhoods
The Beit Shmuel courses department has launched the Fall semester, offering eleven courses on a variety of subjects, including: Judaism and Israel, Talmud and Kabbalah, art, philosophy, history, Arabic, and poetry writing workshops with Israeli writers. Classes are taught by the best professors and experts in their field and have received excellent reviews.
For more information on Beit Shmuel Tours, Shows and Courses, please visit the website
The First Gathering in Beit Shmuel
The purpose of the first meeting was to create a platform for future meetings and to map the needs and wants of immigrants, coupled with the introduction to the Jerusalem Reform community – Kehilat Kol HaNeshama and the Youth Movement Community called Tlamim in which they participated.
They met with Rabbi Levi Weiman Kelman, Rabbi of Kol Haneshama and also celebrated Kabalat Shabbat with the members of the Tlamim youth movement community.
The main points discussed at the gathering were: the need for seminars and trips in Israel for Netzer graduates; general assistance for Olim; strengthening the connections between the old and young Olim; and practical help with job prospects. The outcome of the gathering was the establishment of a meeting framework once to twice a month. The Olim felt it was an important project and stressed the need to continue feeling part of the Netzer family.
The Rabbi will embrace wholeheartedly their dynamic Jewish community and all aspects of communal life. They want to work creatively in partnership with their Rabbi to find new ways of enriching our Jewish experience, helping each individual to find their own path to personal Jewish growth.
Their community has approximately 435 adults and 125 children and teenagers, including a growing number of families with young children. Members live in a wide area of South West London, Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire.
For further information and application details, please contact Ian Lancaster or Via Phone: +44 7818 061431.
Closing Date: 1st February 2016
The entire World Union family extends warm wishes to Rabbi Sergio Bergman for becoming the Minister of Environmental Affairs in the new elected Argentinean Government.
Rabbi Sergio Bergman
Rabbi Sergio Bergman serves as Rabbi of the synagogue of the Congregación Israelita Argentina, founder and CEO of Fundacion Judaica (Judaica Foundation) in Argentina, and president of Argentina Ciudadana Foundation. Rabbi Sergio is a Social Activist, Political Leader and Spiritual Mentor - a force for change in both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities in Argentina. His commitment to Tikkun Olam for all God's children helped to establish his close friendship with Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, and has propelled him into the Buenos Aires Municipal Government and subsequently into the Argentinean Congress. Rabbi Bergman is the 2013 recipient of the WUPJ Micah Award for his commitment to Tikkun Olam for all.
The leadership and staff of the World Union extend their sincerest condolences to the family of Dr. Leo Hepner, member of European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ)’s Management Committee and Past Chairman. He was a long-time supporter of Progressive Jewish communities in Germany.
Dr. Leo Hepner z”l, passed away suddenly on November 25th.
The World Union mourns along with Leo's beloved and devoted wife Regina.
May Dr. Leo Hepners 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 Mignon Segal, mother of Jillian Segal.
Mignon Segal z"l, passed away peacefully on November 26th.
The World Union mourns along with Jillian Segal, John Roth and their family. The Roth-Segal family are stalwarts of the Australian Jewish community and have been long term partners and key supporters of Israel, the WUPJ and IMPJ.
May Mignon Segal's memory be for a blessing and may her entire family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion.
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