Issue # 528
December 13 2015 / 19 Tevet 5776
Beutel Seminar Participants 2014 at Kibbutz Lotan
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 and covers hotel, programming and most meals.
Full details about the seminar including the draft schedule and application form are available here
This is the second year of the Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowship program and without question it is an incredibly rich and powerful educational experience for all. The 18 amazing young leaders grappled with critical issues facing Israel and the Jewish People. They shared meaningful insights as they learned about the similarities and differences between their Jewish communities.
One of the strengths of this seminar is that it empowers the participants to begin to explore how they can address some of these complex issues and have a real impact in their home communities.
The Klal Yisrael Group on the Street Art Tour in Tel Aviv
This unique program nurtures and inspires young leaders, ages 20-26, from North America, Israel, and Europe as they continue to serve their 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, England, Germany, and the Ukraine, and were nominated by URJ camp directors, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) and the WUPJ. Rabbi Steve Burnstein, Director of the WUPJ Saltz Education Center remarked: “I’m inspired to know that these people are involved with securing the Jewish future for our movement and look forward to continuing our work with them over the course of the fellowship in the year to come.”
Hanukkah is the time of miracles! Thousands of people took part in various Hanukkah celebrations held across the FSU.
In Belarus, over 30 Hanukkah events were held by leaders of the Progressive Jewish communities around the country, including: a large reception at Beit Simcha in Minsk welcoming members from Vitebsk, Mogilev, Gomel, Bobruisk and Baranovichi at the Hanukkah reception held at Beit Simcha and guests of honor; a new Hanukah event in Minsk for young people with over 800 people; a Hanukkah event in Mogilev and 2 events in Gomel- one at the Kadima Congregation and one at the Hatikvah School.
Hanukah Celebrations in Gomel
A wide variety of events were held in Russia. In Moscow festivities included: a family seminar before the holiday, a Chuppa, a Bat Mitzvah, a conversion ceremony, and a special joint event with members of Hillel at the Moscow Center for Progressive Judaism. In St. Petersburg, over 300 people took part in events that included performances, study sessions and worship services.
Our members in Crimea were very active lighting the first candle in the central square in Simferopol. Other activities included a workshop on Hamsot and the 15th annual intellectual tournament.
Rabbi Elena Rubinstein Lighting the
Candle at Sha'arei Shalom Congregation,
Members of our Ukrainian congregations held celebrations throughout the country including: Kyiv, Lutsk, Odessa and Cherkassy. In Kyiv over 300 people took part in celebrations in the kindergartens and the congregation. For the first time in 75 years, the Jewish community in Lutsk lit candles at what was once the central synagogue in the city. Members of Cherkassy took part in candle lighting celebrations and a light show held in the city's central square.
For the full Hanukkah report in the FSU, click here.
For many years Latin American Jewry developed strong, vibrant, highly educated and Zionist Jewish communities. Even though Progressive/ Reform Judaism in Latin America traces its beginnings to the early 20th century, it wasn’t until the last decade that Progressive Judaism emerged as a growing force in developing Jewish communities throughout the region.
And what will be the key to this successful growth? The training and transforming of local Jews to become Reform Rabbis and educators.
In the words of Rabbi Sergio Bergman, who serves as Rabbi of the synagogue of the Congregación Israelita Argentina, founder and CEO of Fundacion Judaica (Judaica Foundation) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and an ordained rabbi from the Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR): “It´s a matter of medium to long term planning. The Reform movement hadn’t started to develop when we arrived, despite many community leaders before us who started the path of Liberal Judaism in Latin America. The generations after us should have the opportunity to live and pursue Liberal Judaism, and to continue our task. It is our duty to them, as we are just another link in this chain, to reinforce our communities, to deepen our bonds with Israel and, last but not least, to keep our Jewish roots alive. Actually, the fact of having native rabbis is not just a matter of having excellent professionals to lead our communities, but rather to ensure the continuity of Latin American Jewry with its own personal idiosyncrasy”.
From left Patricia Holzman (President of Fundacion Judaica,
Rabbi Bergman, Raul Gottlieb (President of WUPJ-LA)
and Miriam Vasserman (VP WUPJ-LA) discussing
the Mechina Project.
Raul Gottlieb, President of World Union for Progressive Judaism in Latin America (WUPJ-LA), says: “There is no doubt that our communities need their own rabbis. At this point we are not able to have a local Reform Rabbinical Seminary, but starting with this Mechina we can prepare our candidates to finish their rabbinic studies at Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR) in Israel. We are committed to achieving this goal, but we know that we are not able to do this on our own. We are part of a bigger family and we need WUPJ´s support at this stage”.
Rabbi Bergman and Rabbi Bursztein introducing
the Project to local volunteers
Patricia Holzman, President of Fundacion Judaica, added: “We´ve been working hard to build the infrastructure needed to be where we are now. We are ready to launch around March of 2016. So far we have received full support from World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) and Hebrew Union College (HUC-JIR). Our volunteers and professionals are committed to the success of this project, and we are sure that with our first group of students we’ll be giving a new impulse to Reform Judaism in our region”.
Things are changing and our Movement needs to step up to strengthen and answer the needs of our communities in Latin America.
With the help and support of WUPJ as a global family, this Mechina for Rabbis for Latin American Reform Jews can – and will – become a reality!
Note: The WUPJ congratulates Rabbi Sergio Bergman who has recently been appointed Minister for the Environment in the new Argentinean government formed by Prime Minister Mauricio Macri. See WUPJ newsletter # 526.
The 18th consecutive Jewish Short Film festival took place during Hanukkah in Minsk, Belarus. A total of 11 teams from the FSU gathered on December 11-13 to present their films and vie for the coveted title of film of the year.
Netzer FSU had 3 teams taking part this year: Moscow, Kiev and Minsk. Every year our teams make us proud and this year was no exception!
We are very pleased to announce that the film team Netzer Minsk "Just Me" was the overall winner of the festival, winning the top award - movie of the year, as well as the award for best director and best cinematography.
Winning the Award at Jewish Minsk Festival
The team from Kiev won two awards – audience favorite and a special prize from Rabbi Gregory Abramovich.
We believe that the festival is an important event not only for the FSU, but also for the Jewish world. We are proud of our teams who have been excellent representatives of our movement all these years and continue to amaze us with their achievements.
Out of the 7 prizes awarded at the festival, 5 were won by Netzer groups!
Mazal Tov Netzer Minsk and Kiev!
The Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) invites you to be a part of 50 selected Israeli Men and Women who will be joining us during a gap year program called HaMechina B’Yaffo. You will have the chance to embark on a journey full of learning, Tikkun Olam, field trips and social Jewish gatherings across Israel.
Students of the Mechina volunteer in the community
Throughout the year, the participants enjoy studying with leading Israeli figures in a variety of areas, including Jewish thought, community development, economics and more. The participants living in the Mechina house volunteer in the community with underprivileged populations, the elderly and people with disabilities; and develop a sense of leadership to serve them as they enter meaningful posts in the IDF.
The Mechina program is conducted in Hebrew and requires command of spoken Hebrew.
Joining the conference will be the 16 heads of branches of Netzer from 15 difference countries: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain, England, United States, Canada, Panama, South Africa, Australia and Israel.
The main issues to be discussed in the conference will be the current refugee crisis in Europe and its economic effects.
The leadership and staff of the World Union extend their sincerest condolences to the family of Lord Janner, father of Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner.
Lord Janner z"l, passed away peacefully on December 19.
The World Union mourns along with Lord Janners's beloved children Laura, Daniel, and Marion.
May Lord Janner’s memory be for a blessing and may his entire family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion.
The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion produced a video showcasing the impact of their alumni who are dedicated to the sacred mission of creating a better world, in North America, in Israel, and around the globe. Watch this short video to better appreciate the tremendous impact Reform rabbis are having around the globe.
What do you think about our newsletter?