Issue # 536

April 22 2016 // 14 Nisan 5776


Featuring

WUPJ Celebrates 90 and Building Bridges Towards 120 at the EUPJ Biennial in London

EUPJ Biennial: Record Attendance, Landmark Initiatives and Resolutions 

WUPJ Leaders Trace Roots of Reform Judaism in Europe

International Assembly Honors Leslie Bergman

Historic Rabbinic Kallah in London Establishes a new ERA

She Says, She Says: The Dolores Wilkenfeld International Women’s Leadership Seminar of the WRJ and the WUPJ

Live from Israel
Dear Reader

Upcoming Events



Featuring

Celebrating 90 and Building Bridges towards 120 at the EUPJ Biennial in London
 
As the trumpets blared from the upper balcony of the Guildhall in London, and everyone took their seats excitedly, the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) officially opened their 2016 biennial conference, “Building Bridges.” Flags of the nine founding member countries of the WUPJ 90 years ago waved across the stage by lay leaders from around the world and the tone for the evening – of our global Progressive family coming together to share a collective vision for the future - was set. As speeches, workshops, plenaries and services brought participants together throughout the four-day conference, it was the Friday night gala dinner that stood out for its moving content. 

 
Opening event of the EUPJ Biennial at the Guildhall
in London April 14th, 2016

In celebration of 90 years since the founding of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) in London in 1926, Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander presented a timeline of our growth and achievements, including key milestones that expanded our Progressive Jewish family. The presentation also featured video clips from individuals reflecting program areas and achievements of the WUPJ over the past decades, including leadership seminars, rabbinic training, founding of new communities, Netzer youth programs and more. The presentation culminated in a surprise montage honoring Rabbi Joel Oseran’s 30 years of dedication and distinguished service to the World Union. For nearly three decades – a significant third of the World Union’s history – Rabbi Oseran has been at the forefront of growing new communities and training congregational and rabbinic leadership on behalf of the WUPJ. 


Honoring Rabbi Joel Oseran’s 30 years of dedication
and service to the World Union
From left: Miriam Kramer, EUPJ Chairman; Leslie Bergman, outgoing EUPJ
President; Rabbi Joel Oseran, WUPJ Vice President of International
Development; Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, WUPJ President;
and Carole Sterling, WUPJ Chair

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EUPJ Biennial: Record Attendance, Landmark Initiatives and Resolutions

A record number of delegates took part in the 2016 European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) Biennial Conference in London from April 14th-17th: more than 350 people from 29 countries, including 86 rabbis and student rabbis.
 

Opening event of the EUPJ Biennial at the Guildhall
in London April 14th, 2016

The conference was an opportunity for Progressive Jews to come together, discuss a range of issues, and stand united in the face of anti-Semitism in Europe and anti-Reform sentiment in Israel. Other topics discussed included the impact of Jewish voices on their cities, the changing demographics of Europe, how to engage millennials, the training of rabbis, and LGBQI+ inclusion.

The conference began with an opening ceremony at London’s Guildhall, and included services at West London Synagogue (WLS) and the Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS), optional site visits, and a communal Friday night dinner at the Radisson Blu Portman Hotel. The keynote address was by Israeli historian and writer Fania Oz-Salzberger on the topic ‘Jewish Identity – What Unites and Divides Us as Jews?’

A deeply moving Kabbalat Shabbat was held for all attendants at West London Synagogue on Friday, during which a Sefer Torah was handed over by the synagogue to the new Reform Jewish Community of Madrid. The Torah was passed on for a period of two years, after which it will be returned to WLS to be given to another “startup” congregation for safekeeping for another two years. In this way, WLS will be perpetually supporting new congregations in need of a Torah scroll. Services ended with seventy rabbis on the bimah singing adon olam and reciting the priestly blessing. 

 
Miriam Kramer, EUPJ Chairman welcoming
attendants to the EUPJ Biennial

Landmark initiatives at the conference included:
  • The formation of a European Progressive Rabbinic Assembly (ERA) to provide a Progressive Rabbinic voice in Europe and support and networking for rabbis across the continent.
  • Admitting three new institutions to the EUPJ – the newly formed French Assembly of Liberal Jews, and the first-ever Progressive Jewish communities in Madrid and Portugal.
Resolutions passed at the conference called for a comprehensive humanitarian response to Europe’s refugee crisis, and an immediate implementation of the Israeli Government’s decision in relation to the Kotel.

EUPJ Chairman Miriam Kramer said, “The 2016 Biennial Conference exceeded all expectations. The services, for Kabbalat Shabbat at West London Synagogue and Shabbat morning at the Liberal Jewish Synagogue, were inspiring. The workshops and plenary sessions were full to bursting – both in terms of people attending and in exchange of ideas and information – and we were honoured to be able to celebrate two significant and very special anniversaries.”

 
Rabbi Reuven Bar Ephraim (right) congratulates
Gordon Smith (left) on becoming the new President of EUPJ

Gordon Smith, incoming EUPJ president, added, “Our EUPJ Conference in London was an extraordinary gathering. The conference theme – ‘Building Bridges – Spanning the Jewish World and Beyond’ – provided a crucial structure for a superb programme. We debated, discussed, even disputed but always for the sake of heaven, “B’Shem Shamayim”. The largest number of delegates ever, left after four days having recharged their Jewish batteries , committed and invigorated to carrying on this sacred work within the Jewish world and beyond in the promotion of Progressive Judaism across Europe and the world.”

The conference’s closing plenary saw Rabbis Danny Rich and Laura Janner-Klausner – the senior rabbis of Britain’s Liberal and Reform movements, respectively – outline a ‘Vision for Progressive Judaism in Europe Today’. 

Rabbi Rich told of his history as a fourth generation Liberal Jew descended from immigrants to the UK. He said: “Now, more than ever, each of us holds multiple identities: English, British, European, Jewish, Liberal Jewish and so on and, if Progressive Judaism in Europe is to have a bold future, it will need to accommodate itself to an even more complex array of identities which will make up the modern European Jew.”

Rabbi Janner-Klausner spoke passionately about the need to take European Progressive Judaism forward with a robust and strong moral voice. She said, “Our inclusive and innovative formula for Jewish life is a magnet for young families, mixed couples and previously unaffiliated Jews. We can and must sustain our vision. We need to show off. We need to show who we are and why we love our Progressive Judaism using that famous Jewish skill – chutzpah.”

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WUPJ Leaders Trace Roots of Reform Judaism in Europe

Twenty North American World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) representatives traveled to Berlin and London exploring history of Jewish communities in Germany and England. Led by WUPJ President, Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, the group learned how the Reform movement became the home of the majority of Jews in Germany in the early 20th century and of how the German refugees of the 1930’s brought their form of Reform Judaism to the dozens of countries in which they settled.
 
Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander talking with a tour guide about Jewish
community life and renewal next to Berlin’s Holocaust Memorial
(All photos © and courtesy of Dale Lazar)

The group celebrated Shabbat with a new congregation called Haskalah, and attended a concert of Jewish Jazz in the center of Berlin. Visiting Abraham Geiger Kolleg’s Berlin offices, the group met rabbinical students from around the world, and learned of the challenges of nurturing new congregations in Central and Eastern Europe.

 
Discussion with Rabbi Dr. Edward van Voolen 
at Abraham Geiger Kolleg College Berlin April 2016 
(All photos © and courtesy of Dale Lazar)

In London, historian David Jacobs documented the millennium-long presence of Jews in the United Kingdom. The group visited the campus of the Leo Baeck College, and met with rabbinic students and leaders of the Movement for Reform Judaism on the campus, including Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris, Principal and Lecturer at Leo Baeck College, and Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, inaugural Senior Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism. Touring London’s oldest synagogues and cemeteries gave the group insights into this vibrant and diverse community, and an understanding of the two progressive movements that serves the country. The tour coincided with the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) Biennial conference, and allowed the North Americans the opportunity to meet the 300 delegates from around Europe and the world.

Join the next WUPJ travel tour: A ten-day journey to South Africa with Rabbi Lennard Thal, on July 6-17th. 

For details and to register, click here

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International Assembly Honors Leslie Bergman

The World Union for Progressive Judaism’s (WUPJ) International Assembly (IA) took place on April 14th with about 100 attendants on-site in London, and many more participating virtually. The meeting opened with a blessing by Rabbi Joel Oseran, WUPJ Vice President for International Development, in honor of his impending retirement. As part of the meeting, the IA approved the WUPJ Executive Board’s resolution to honor Rabbi Oseran with the title of Vice President Emeritus. 

 
WUPJ Chair Carole Sterling honors outgoing
EUPJ President Leslie Bergman
(All photos © and courtesy of Dale Lazar)

WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander presented his vision for the World Union’s upcoming years, and Vice President and COO, Shai Pinto presented the organization report. Representatives of each of the seven regions shared highlights and upcoming goals to look forward to in the coming year. They also each paid tribute to Rabbi Oseran’s contributions to their regional development and success over the past years. 

 
One on one: Leslie Bergman talks with Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander
at the International Assembly
(All photos © and courtesy of Dale Lazar)

Similarly, many honored the leadership of outgoing European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) President Leslie Bergman. His many years of distinguished service to the World Union, global Progressive Jewry and the EUPJ formed the basis of a discussion between Leslie and Rabbi Freelander about current and future issues facing our global family and movement.
At the closing plenary session of the EUPJ conference, Leslie Bergman was elected Honorary Life President of the EUPJ. 

We look forward to seeing you again at next year’s International Assembly in May 17th 2017 at the World Union CONNECTIONS Biennial in Israel. 

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Historic Rabbinic Kallah in London Establishes a new ERA

Approximately 60 Progressive rabbis from across Europe met in London, April 13th - 14th  to discuss, learn, study and pray with one another in one of the largest such gatherings in recent history. The first day of the Rabbinic Kallah was hosted by the Leo Baeck College at its campus at the Sternberg Center in honor of the institution’s 60th birthday. 
 
Participants of the Rabbinic Kallah, London April 13th- 14th

One of the major themes for study and discussion was the theme of death and dying, including how rabbis can play a decisive role in end of life support. Study was led by a number of gifted scholars including Dr. Laliv Clenman, Rabbi Dr. Jonathan Romain, Dr. Annette Boeckler, Rabbis Menno ten Brink and Reuven bar Ephraim. 

Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris, Principal of Leo Baeck College, welcomed participants to the college and led a tour introducing colleagues to renovations and changes in the building over the years. Rabbis also met with participants of the first ever Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)- World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) sponsored Wilkenfeld Leadership Seminar (see article below for more about the Wilkenfeld Seminar). 
 

Announcing the new European Rabbinic Association ERA
for European Progressive Rabbis
From right to left: Rabbis Reuven bar Ephraim (Switzerland),
Menno ten Brink (Netherlands), Celia Surget (UK), Charley Baginsky (UK)


Day two of the Rabbinic Kallah witnessed the historic decision of the rabbis to establish the European Rabbinic Association (ERA), which was unanimously accepted into existence by acclimation. ERA represents the first time European Progressive rabbis voted to establish a body, which would represent the united voice of Progressive rabbis and help, guide the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) regarding religious/halachic matters. ERA was established by a Steering Committee of European Progressive Rabbis including: Rabbis Reuven bar Ephraim (Switzerland), Menno ten Brink (Netherlands), Celia Surget (UK), Charley Baginsky (UK), Marc Niger (Belgium) [pictured above from right to left]. Rabbi Bar Ephraim has assumed the role of Chairman of the organization until its first democratically conducted elections will take place in the coming year in Brussels. 

The Rabbinic Kallah also included a fascinating presentation by Rabbi Dr. Andrew Goldstein on the topic of the WUPJ history dating back to 1926 and the organization’s first conference. Rabbi Goldstein led text study on writings of the early leaders of the WUPJ and related these texts to the current Progressive movement in Europe. 

The collegial sense of togetherness and unity was quite pervasive at the Rabbinic Kallah, which bodes well for the future of Progressive Rabbinic leadership in Europe. 

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She Says, She Says: The Dolores Wilkenfeld International Women’s Leadership Seminar of the WRJ and the WUPJ

A group of Reform and Progressive Jewish women from fifteen countries around the world gathered in London, England for the inaugural Wilkenfeld International Women’s Leadership Seminar facilitated by Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ). Held in partnership with World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) just prior to its European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) conference, the WRJ Wilkenfeld International Women’s Leadership Seminar provided skill building and learning opportunities for women to deepen their connections with WRJ and the Reform/Progressive Movement, with the purpose of strengthening women’s roles in the global Jewish community. 
 

Learning with and from each other at the Wilkenfeld
International Women’s Leadership Seminar
All photos © and courtesy of Dale Lazar

Each participant was encouraged to develop and articulate a personal leadership vision and to create a specific action plan to achieve her goal. Fewer than half of the applicants were selected to participate in this prestigious program. This year’s attendees were from: Brazil, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. The seminar was the brainchild of WRJ Past President and WUPJ Executive Board life honorary member Dolores Wilkenfeld and reflects her passion for cultivating women’s leadership and her lifelong support for WRJ and WUPJ. 

“This is a unique opportunity to deepen the connection between these women and Women of Reform Judaism and the World Union for Progressive Judaism. We look forward to seeing them apply the lessons learned in this seminar to fortify their local Jewish communities and expand their own leadership roles,” expressed WRJ President Blair Marks. She added, “We are thrilled to expand our global reach through these women, and we look forward to supporting them in their growth as religious and community leaders.” 
 

Rita Fruman (left) listening to a lecture at the Wilkenfeld
International Women’s Leadership Seminar
All photos © and courtesy of Dale Lazar


The World Union nominated Rita Fruman to participate in the seminar, owing to her critical and impactful role as coordinator of all Netzer activities in the Former Soviet Union, including training madrichim and chanichim, developing educational curriculum for youth activities, planning and conducting empowerment seminars, organizing and training new shlichim to the FSU summer camps, and coordinating the MASA Netzer Olami program for FSU participants in Israel.

In her own words, Rita was “honored to have been selected to participate in the first international seminar by the Women for Reform Judaism.” When asked to identify a highlight from the seminar, Rita answered quickly, selecting a visit to Leo Baeck College. “It was a very special and spiritual meeting, where we were joined by Progressive rabbis participating in the Rabbinic Kallah that usually precedes the biennials. We spent some time talking with them and sharing our Jewish organizational achievements and goals. We then listened to a brilliant text study by Rabbi Dr. Deborah Kahn-Harris, Principal of the Leo Baeck College. She spoke about seven Jewish female prophets and we discussed the kinds of leadership approaches each one of these women utilized. We analyzed their collective and individual impact on Jewish history in general, and were then challenged to apply their collective and individual influences to our own personal goals. For me, representing the WUPJ, it was a great honor to present my personal leadership vision to the group at Leo Baeck College. I spoke about the power of Jewish education in building future young leaders, many of whom I am in contact with and train myself in FSU countries.” 

 
Participants of the inaugural Wilkenfeld International
Women’s Leadership Seminar
All photos © and courtesy of Dale Lazar

“To make new connections with Reform and Progressive women from all over the world. To learn with them and from them and to share this new experience together, a partnership of the Women of Reform Judaism and the World Union from the vision of Dolores Wilkenfeld, has been simply amazing.”

Following the conclusion of the seminar, participants will stay in touch via email and video conferencing as their action plans are put into effect, thus ensuring that the wisdom gained from the seminar will continue to grow. WRJ and WUPJ look forward to collaborating on future Wilkenfeld Seminars to strengthen leaders who will assure the future of Reform and Progressive Judaism around the world. 

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Live from Israel 

Friday Night Lights in Jerusalem: You’re Invited to a New Kabbalat Shabbat Experience 

Join us for an engaging Shabbat celebration in Jerusalem! A new joint initiative of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) and the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) is welcoming individuals, families and groups visiting Israel for an uplifting Shabbat experience – all within walking distance of your Jerusalem hotel.

 

Feed your soul with prayer and song and your body with delicious food, with our three-course package: 
  1. Kabbalat Shabbat services led by top Reform rabbis and scholars on our picturesque Beit Shmuel -HUC campus, facing the Old City walls
  2. A festive, catered, Kosher dinner 
  3. The sweet sounds of a musical program that includes all your favorite Shabbat songs 

When: June 24th, July 1st, July 8th, or July 15th
 
Cost: $70 per person, all-inclusive

Individuals or groups (even through tour operators) can register online here.  

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Upcoming Events

May 27-28, 2016 - Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) Conference, Israel

June 23-25, 2016 - Latin America Region Biennial Conference (WUPJ-LA), Sao Paulo, Brazil

July 6-17, 2016, WUPJ Travel Tour, South Africa

July 15-17, 2016 - SAUPJ 2016 Biennial Conference, South Africa

July 19-24, 2016, Bergman Seminar for Jewish Educators, Anita Saltz International Education Center, Jerusalem, Israel

September 15-18, 2016 - FSU Biennial Conference, Minsk, Belarus

November 9-18, 2016, WUPJ Travel Tour, China & Singapore

November 17-20, 2016 - Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ) Biennial Conference , Perth, Australia

May 15-21, 2017 – CONNECTIONS 2015, World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) 38th Biennial Conference, Jerusalem, Israel


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