Issue #542

14 July 2016 // 8 Tammuz 5776


Understanding the Kotel: What’s at Stake for Progressive Jews 

Temple Israel of Hillbrow Captures the Incredible History of Progressive Judaism in South Africa and its Legacy on Social Justice 

Spotlight on Summer Camps: In the FSU: Memories and Belonging to Last a Lifetime

Netzer News
Leadership Opportunities
Live from our Regions
Live from Israel
Dear Reader

Upcoming Events


Understanding the Kotel: What’s at Stake for Progressive Jews 

With so many news outlets reporting updates about the Kotel – from AP to Times of Israel to The Washington Post – it’s easy to get distracted from what the struggle is really about. The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), just posted the introductory video below to help explain what’s at stake and what we’re fighting for.

Click here to watch it in full. 

Watch this video to learn more about the issues
Progressive Jews are fighting for at the Kotel

We also invite you to read this overview from the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), issued immediately after the Israeli Government sanctioned the creation of an egalitarian prayer space at the Kotel, and including statements from the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC). 

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Temple Israel of Hillbrow Captures the Incredible History of Progressive Judaism in South Africa and Its Legacy on Social Justice 

Over the weekend of July 9, 2016, Temple Israel , Hillbrow in Johannesburg, South Africa celebrated 80 years since its founding with a range of gala events. Temple Israel launched the Temple Israel Heritage Center, based on “its legacy of achievements and efforts toward tikkun olam,” Chairperson Reeva Forman explained, with a permanent exhibition focusing on the history of the Progressive Movement in South African. Judaism’s impact on the region can be seen through individuals such as Rabbi MC Weiler, former Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson and Helen Suzman, Parliamentarian and Human Rights Activist, each pioneers of social justice and voices against apartheid. 

Public Protector Advocate Thuli Madonsela was a keynote speaker
at the celebration of Temple Israel Hillbrow's 80th anniversary.
PIcture: Boxer Ngwenya. Credit: INDEPENDENT MEDIA

Keynote speaker Public Protector Adv. Thuli Madonsela spoke before 300 attendees on the subject of “Justice Shall You Pursue,” before an audience of esteemed guests such as Israeli Ambassador Arthur Lenk, Johannesburg Mayor Parks Thau, Human Rights Lawyer George Bizos, Marlene Bethlehem and Professor Joseph Weiler, son of Rabbi MC Weiler, the founding rabbi of Progressive Judaism in South Africa, as well as a delegation from the World Union of Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) led by Rabbi Joel Oseran and Chair Carole Sterling

“At a time like this, with the world in turmoil, it is proper that we should focus on justice and our responsibility regarding ensuring justice for all. The commemoration of Temple Israel, taking its history of advocacy against injustice and violation of human rights, provides us with an opportunity to remember where we come from and why we shall never return to that place,” said Public Protector Adv. Mandonsela.

To read more about the event in local press, click here.

Temple Israel of Hillbrow was declared a Johannesburg City Heritage Site
in 2014 to honor its History and Contributions to the City

Following the weekend festivities, Reeva Forman, Chairperson of Temple Israel, joined Jo’burg native and generations-long member of Temple Israel, Darryl Egnal (who now lives in Israel), for a fascinating discussion on local Jewish radio channel The engaging radio interview highlights the history of Progressive Judaism in South Africa and the incredible people and stories that shaped Temple Israel’s legacy over the past 80 years. 

Click here to listen in and enjoy.
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Spotlight on Summer Camps: In the FSU: Memories and Belonging to Last a Lifetime 

Summer Camps in the FSU opened their doors in June 2016 and, over the course of the next few summer months, will welcome more than 1,000 campers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine to its range of summer camps. Below are some highlights from camps already in progress to kick off our Spotlight on Summer Camps series. Stay tuned this summer as we focus in on the individuals and experiences taking place across Netzer summer camps by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) in the FSU, Europe and more.
Moscow, Russia: Integrative Camp for Families and Kids with Special Needs, “Shalom Yerushalaim”

Shalom Yerushalaim! is an integrative camp for families and their children with special needs that hosts 60 families, or 150 people, among them 30 children with special needs, for a one-week experiential camp just outside Moscow. 

Welcoming families and campers with special needs
to Shalom Yerushalaim! Summer Camp in Moscow
This year’s theme explored Jerusalem through arts, drama, outdoor activity, stories and discussions. Simulated trips were created for campers to ride Jerusalem’s new light rail and explore the Old City. This year offered more joint activities for parents and children to experience together, while targeted treatments, such as meetings with psychologists, swimming lessons, and other therapies, were held separately, as were lessons for adults in Hebrew, the history of Jerusalem and Israel, and more. 
Havdalah services for families and campers with special needs
at Shalom Yerushalaim! Summer Camp in Moscow 

The seven-day camp culminated in a celebratory concert in which all campers took part – performing and producing. 

For more photos from Shalom Yerushalaim! Click here.

Odessa, Ukraine: Camp Ivriya 

Ivriya is an educational framework for children and their families of Shirat HaYam Congregation in Odessa to learn more about Judaism. It runs throughout the school year and, during winter and summer vacations, operates as a day camp. On June 13-17, Ivriya opened its fifth summer camp season devoted to the theme of super heroes.

Enjoying the summer as super heroes in Odessa at Ivriya Summer Camp

Five unforgettable days in mid-June 2016 were filled with Judaism, creativity and excursions, including language lessons in Hebrew, English and French. Twenty-seven inquisitive boys and girls ages 7-13 years old were welcomed to “super heroes" school. Every day each of them had to find their “N – factor”, a wordplay on both netzer, or being Jewish, as a super power, and the international reality competition The X Factor, as a quality that makes individuals unique in some special way.
Morning services at Ivriya Summer Camp in Odessa

Netzer madrichim created and managed the whole program with the assistance of CITs, or counselors in training. All were led by the energetic and creative head of the children and youth programs for the community, Elena Ismailova.  

Children visited the city museums and exhibitions, participated in a variety of leadership projects, singing, dancing and art. Every morning camp started with Shacharit led by Rabbi Julia Gris. Children became acquainted with Jewish characters from the Tanakh, Middle Ages and modernity. Their wisdom and knowledge helped to solve problems identified by the children: how to fill the world with goodness and kindness as a way of combatting evil and injustice. At the end of each day, children received an assignment to improve the world, such as: "Call your grandmother and tell her that you love her", "Water your plants", or "Help your parents around the house". 

Campers at Ivriya in Odessa show off their artwork
On the last day of camp, the campers and their parents came together to celebrate Kabbalat Shabbat. Parents enjoyed homemade challah prepared by campers. During Oneg Shabbat the children recounted their favorite activities from camp and what they learned. Campers then received certificates of completion "of the School of Super Heroes", as well as photos and T-shirts they had painted themselves during one of the art classes. Campers and their parents then visited the Odessa Observatory to watch the moon, stars and other planets. 

To view more photos from Ivriya Super Hero Summer Camp, click here.

Olesin, Poland: Summer Camp for Ukrainian Children

In the small village of Olesin, near Warsaw, Poland, thirty children ages 7 – 10, from Progressive congregations in the Ukraine, came together for an experiential and educational Netzer summer camp. Made possible by additional financial support from the Moses Feldman Family Foundation and the Dutch Jewish Humanitarian Fund, the summer camp was created by Netzer madrichim and implemented by professional teachers, including music and arts teachers for creative activities for younger children.

Enjoying Art and Creative Activities at Summer Camp in Olesin

From June 8 – 19, the program included: interactive studies about Judaism, celebrations of Shabbat and Shavuot, evening activities, learning about prayers and blessings, and discussions about the laws of Jewish life, how to follow them and the challenges it brings. 

Outdoor Activities and Discussions at Summer Camp in Olesin 

The goal of all Jewish-related activities was to generate the feeling of being one, big Jewish family – exploring the ideas of community, responsibilities towards others and more – also through a focus on tikkun olam and tikkun atzmi (repairing oneself). There were fireside singing activities in the woods nearby, field trips, a talent show, sports competitions, horseback riding and more. 

Roasting Marshmallows at Summer Camp, Fireside in Olesin
For some campers this was their first time being in a Jewish environment, and for all it was a step toward belonging to Klal Yisrael.
For more photos from the summer camp in Olesin, click here.

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Netzer News

Shnattim Begin Volunteer Service in Israel: Giving and Growing from Within 

Starting in July 2016, Netzer Shnat participants began their volunteering placements in Tel Aviv, which will last for a month and a half. They selected two programs that best suited their skills and interests from a range of options including working with animals in a rescue shelter, and teaching and tutoring children of refugees of all ages in schools such as the Bialik Rogozin School in south Tel Aviv for at-risk youth – many of whom have fled poverty, persecution and even genocide.  Participants will alternate mornings and afternoons with each program.  

Shnattim discussing their volunteer options in Tel Aviv

Volunteering is an integral and important component of Shnat, as it offers valuable opportunities for growth, leadership development, recognition of one’s ability to contribute and change, and a sense of accomplishment. Every Sunday, Shnat participants gather with staff to reflect on incidents that affected them, for better or worse; to contextualize the issues in the larger sense of Israeli society and politics; and to talk about social inequality, social justice, social action, accepting others, and more. 
Another option for Shnattim is to volunteer as leaders in Israeli summer camps as counselors in training, where they can gain leadership and education or teaching skills. Three Shnat participants decided to join Machaneh Chavayah, the summer camp of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ). Orientation has already begun and on July 13, campers will arrive, eager for an incredible summer experience. At the end of July, two Shnattim will travel abroad to lead Netzer camps – one to an RSY – Netzer camp in the UK and another to a Netzer camp in Germany. 

If you were once a Netzernik we’d like to hear from you! Please click through to complete the survey and reconnect with us!

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Leadership Opportunities

Open Call: Beutel Leadership Seminar

“Israel became our classroom as we explored centuries of its history
alongside its rapid-fire changes to society, politics and peoplehood.”
-- 2013 Beutel Leadership Seminar participant

The Beutel Leadership Seminar, run by the Saltz International Educational Center of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), is opening its application process for nominations of congregational and community leaders to join its prestigious ten-day seminar in Jerusalem in February 2017. Courses explore Jewish texts, current political and social issues across world Jewry and Israel, spiritual pathways and concepts of Jewish leadership, and more, all within an interactive and experiential Progressive Jewish context. Scholarships are now available for applicants and nominees.
Inquire about opportunities via e-mail to Rabbi Steve Burstein.

To nominate leadership from your congregation or find out how the Beutel seminar will transform your community, click here today.

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Live from our Regions

Extended Registration: Join the UPJ Biennial in Perth, Australia on November 17 – 20, 2016

More than 100 attendants have signed up from Australia, Asia, New Zealand, the US, Israel and Indonesia – don’t miss your chance to be a part of this inspiring convention! Join the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ) for its upcoming biennial in November 2016 to explore “Looking Back and to the Future” – the history and impact of Progressive Judaism across the continent. Co-hosted by Temple David, the biennial will be preceded by three days of optional touring around the Perth region, and will also include an optional one-day, post-Biennial tour of the Margaret River region. Tours will provide an opportunity to get to know fellow conference attendees, build friendships and visit some of the beautiful attractions in and around Perth. Scholar in residence Dr. Ron Wolfson will be speaking about the future of Australian Progressive congregations and strengthening the movement in the region. 

For more information, including how you can still register to join, click here.

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Live from Israel

Beit Shmuel exhibition: Sara Strassberg-Dayan 

View of Gilo at Sunset, 2016, Oil on Canvas by Sara Strassberg-Dayan

Sara Strassberg-Dayan is a playwright, lecturer on Jewish Modern Thought and artist who moved to Israel in 1975 from Argentina. She has participated in many group exhibitions in Buenos Aires, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Her current exhibition, “Inside Outside,” now on view at Beit Shmuel-Merkaz Shimshon through August 2016, presents paintings of flowers in vases next to open landscapes. Using different media – from acrylics to water colors – Strassberg-Dayan explores the contrasts on the streets of Jerusalem between the built (city) and the organic (nature) as symbols of the struggles and history of the city itself.

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Condolences to Helena Glaser on the Passing of her Mother 


The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) extends its deepest sympathies to Helena Glaser, Chairperson of the Zionist General Council of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) on the death of her mother Raisa Klein z”l

May Raisa’s memory be for a blessing and may the entire family be comforted amongst the mourners of Zion.

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Dear Reader

Stay current with newsletters from our regions. Click here for more details.

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July 14-24, 2016, Bergman Seminar for Jewish Educators, Anita Saltz International Education Center, Jerusalem, Israel

July 28-31, 2016 - UPJ Germany annual conference, Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Germany

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

February 16-26, 2017 - The Beutel Seminar For Progressive Jewish Leadership, Jerusalem, Israel

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