Issue #543

July 28, 2016 // 22 Tammuz 5776


Responding to the Mikvah Bill: A Statement by Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, President, World Union of Progressive Judaism

SACRED Succeeds in Pursuing Justice for Women’s Rights in Public Jewish Ceremonies in South Africa

Rabbi Fred Morgan Appointed First Movement Rabbi for the Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific Region

Chaverim Project: Houston Teens Support Netzer Summer Camps in FSU
Live from Israel
Netzer News
Dear Reader

Upcoming Events


Responding to the Mikvah Bill: A Statement by Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, President, World Union of Progressive Judaism

It is incredulous that the Knesset of our Jewish state actually passed a bill denying Reform and Conservative Jews access to state funded mikvaot in Israel for purposes of conversion. The government also refused to release promised funds to build four mikvaot for use by non-Orthodox Jews.  


That a majority of the Knesset, for political reasons, allowed a small Haredi (Ultra-Orthodox) minority to insist on alienating millions of devoted Jews is outrageous.  

We Progressive Jews assert: There is more than one way to be Jewish. We insist: The Israeli government must cease to delegitimize our millions of Jews. 

Devotion to Israel is woven into our Progressive Jewish identity. We demand that the government of Israel uphold our rights to live as Progressive Jews in our Jewish state.  

For other statements from the World Union, click here.
To read the URJ and IMPJ joint statement regarding the Mikvah bill click here.

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SACRED Succeeds in Pursuing Justice for Women’s Rights in Public Jewish Ceremonies in South Africa

The South African Centre for Religious Equality and Diversity (SACRED) and [its] co-applicants in the Equality Court case against the South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies are delighted to announce that a settlement has been reached in the case concerning the exclusion of women from singing at the annual Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony in Cape Town. In the settlement, the SA Jewish Board of Deputies has agreed to end its ban on women singing at such a ceremony and has committed that future ceremonies will be restructured so as to include women singing.


Rabbi Julia Margolis, chairperson of SACRED’s board, explains: “We are glad to know that all future SA Jewish Board of Deputies ceremonies and events will be infused with respect for the equal treatment of all on grounds of sex and gender, and that no members of the community will be treated as second-class Jews. SACRED became involved in this issue as it is deeply committed to the values of our Constitution and ensuring the elimination of unfair discrimination within the Jewish community of South Africa (and beyond)”.

The agreement has also brought an end to the unacceptable situation of there being officially-sanctioned discrimination at the Holocaust memorial ceremonies in South Africa. Whilst the agreement has been reached with the Board of Deputies in the Western Cape, SACRED expects all chapters of the Board of Deputies across South Africa to include women singing in their Holocaust memorial ceremonies.

Having just visited the region and attended its recent biennial, WUPJ Chair Carole Sterling noted, “What impresses me most about this achievement for SACRED is how the community stood up for an issue that they felt was unfair and discriminatory, and by respectful debate and discussion were able to reach a consensus.”

For more on this achievement by SACRED read their full press release here.

For a statement from the South African Union for Progressive Judaism, please click here.

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Rabbi Fred Morgan Appointed First Movement Rabbi for the Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific Region

Written by Peter Kohn; Reprinted with permission of The Australian Jewish News

The Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ), which resources 27 congregations, schools, youth groups and communal organisations in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific region – has appointed Rabbi Fred Morgan as its first-ever movement rabbi. Rabbi Morgan is Temple Beth Israel’s emeritus rabbi, and he served that congregation as senior rabbi for 16 years. 

Rabbi Fred Morgan was appointed the first movement rabbi
for the UPJ serving Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the Pacific region

His brief in the new role is to express the UPJ’s ideas, philosophies and plans both to the constituent organisations within the movement and to the wider Jewish and non-Jewish worlds. Describing his role as “a facilitator” to encourage leaders within the movement to become more vocal, Rabbi Morgan told The AJN: “I’m there to enable the rest of the movement to express itself, including my colleagues and lay leaders, to get the message of Progressive Judaism out there to the wider Jewish community and the wider community at large.

“The other part of my role is to enable our constituents to express themselves in the best possible way they can, through increasing communication, enabling people to get their successes out into the public domain, to share best practice, and projects that have really achieved something special,” he added.

Rabbi Morgan will kick off his role with a 10-day trip to Kehilat Shanghai, the Progressive congregation in China’s largest metropolis, where he will meet its president Arie Schreier, a previous visitor to Australia, and other congregants. He will also lead a seder for the congregation.

The visit has a personal dimension for the rabbi and his wife Sue, whose maternal grandparents crossed the Soviet Union from war-ravaged Europe to reach refuge in Shanghai in 1941.

UPJ president Roger Mendelson told The AJN the decision to appoint a movement rabbi emerged from a strategic review that began two years ago, which recommended the UPJ adopt the model of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) and the United States’ Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), which both have rabbis as their major spokespeople.

“We welcome Rabbi Morgan, who has the wide support of the movement, as a representative of Progressive Judaism, not just in Australia but across the entire region,” Mendelson said.


Join the UPJ in Perth this November to learn more about and experience Progressive life down under first hand. Discounts are still available for WUPJ members! For more information, including how you can still register to join, click here.

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Chaverim Project: Houston Teens Support Netzer Summer Camps in FSU
By Alyson Malinger

While serving on the North American Advisory Board (NAAB) of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), Linda Zoll was asked how she planned to use her position to help Progressive Judaism. Having the opportunity to help young people embrace their Judaism was exactly how she wanted to assist the movement – and so started the Chaverim Project. 

Started by Temple Emanu El’s senior youth group, TEFTY, in Houston, the Chaverim Project, the Hebrew word “chaverim” for friends, is a partnership platform of North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY) with communities around the world, specifically in the Former Soviet Union, to send youth to summer camps run by the WUPJ. “I did this for the young people in North America to recognize they have the opportunity to impact and the ability to change the future of Reform Judaism,” Zoll said. 

From left-to-right: Rabbi Kahn, Kendrick Reyes (Communications
Vice President), Linda Zoll, Marisa Papell (President),
and Paige Robbins (Social Action Vice President). 

TEFTY, under advisor Megan Brown and President Marisa Papell, raised $1,000 USD – enough to send one child to attend a twelve-day camp in the FSU. The idea came to Zoll after attending CONNECTIONS 2011 in San Francisco, and learning about the efforts of the World Union to introduce Judaism in an area of the world where the majority of Jews are living with little to no knowledge of their Jewish roots. Zoll is also a member of the WUPJ’s International Assembly, in addition to her position on the NAAB.

“Students coming from the FSU have little to no Jewish background as a base,” Zoll said. “When it stopped being a crime to pursue Judaism, the previous generation didn’t have anything to pass on.” These camps, Zoll explained, grant opportunities to families as a whole, and to parents and children individually; allowing parents to learn and teach Jewish traditions with their children as they grow to learn about their heritage together.  

When Zoll proposed this fundraising idea to the youth group, it was immediately approved by the young adults involved in TEFTY. “They didn’t have much information about Jews in the FSU and the impact of these summer camps before Linda came to spoke to them,” Brown said. “And right away they were immediately motivated to set and achieve their goal.”

Through a series of bake sales, TEFTY raised the $1,000 target. Throughout the process participants also learned more about the summer camps, reading biographies from campers and doing personal research on the diaspora of Jews in the region. 

TEFTY is considered the “pioneer group” of the project, as the first youth group in North America to fundraise and reach their target funding to send a child to summer camp. The Chaverim project is currently being considered for inclusion on the agenda of the upcoming NFTY convention in Chicago, scheduled for February 2017. With this on the agenda, it is the goal for the project to then be carried out by youth groups across North America, continuing the international connection. 

As a result of the success of the youth group, other members of the congregation also felt motivated and matched their fundraising amounts, sending more and more children to the camps. “I hope this will be part of a long time result,” Zoll said. “The goal includes that our youngsters recognize that their support is vitally necessary to the other young people in the FSU in learning Progressive Judaism.”

Reaching the fundraising goal was for the kids themselves the highlight of their year, Brown said.

“The kids walked away from this knowing that they gave the experience of a Jewish summer camp to somebody else, which is really what this is all about,” Brown said. 

About the author:
Originally from New Jersey and a member of Congregation Temple Shalom in Aberdeen, Alyson Malinger is currently working as a Summer Associate in the Marketing and Fundraising Departments of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) in New York. Alyson is a rising senior at Indiana University studying journalism and political science. She also serves as the Region Editor of the Indiana Daily Student focusing on the election cycle.

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Live from Israel

Calling all Community and Congregational Leaders: Success Starts with the Beutel Leadership Seminar in Jerusalem
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 provide practical tools as they 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. 

For a hands-on workshop that provides tools in leadership, apply for the Beutel Seminar

To inquire about opportunities via e-mail, write 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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Netzer News

Spotlight on Summer Camps: Netzer Heats up July Winter Camps Down Under 

Just because it’s winter in Australia doesn’t mean our Netzer camps are hibernating! In fact, quite the opposite: across Australia coordinated efforts to introduce congregants and community members to Netzer camps – their goals, counselors and activities – have generated increased interest and recruitment across the country! 

In Sydney, July 5 – 10 2016, Netzer Winter Camp – Machane Olympia welcomed 97 participants to its five-day “summer” camp experience – a significant increase over its 70 participants in last year’s winter camp. For 22 participants, or chanichim, this was their first Netzer camp experience; most of these new campers – 20% of the total camper population – noted that they heard about Netzer and were drawn to the winter camps through their synagogues or by their parents who once participated in the movement themselves. 

Click here to watch Shabbat Shalom greetings from
Machane Olympia, Netzer Winter Camp, in Sydney

Congregational support – and recruitment – was particularly strong across the country, with larger groups of campers coming together from: North Shore Temple Emanuel in Sydney, Emanuel Synagogue in Woollhara, New South Wales, the ACT Jewish Community (ACTJC) in Canberra, Beit Shalom Synagogue in Adelaide, and Temple David serving Western Australia.

Leading the camp were two graduates of Netzer and recent returnees from Netzer Shnat in Israel: Nicki Braun and Jordan Werner-Hall. They planned and oversaw all logistical and programming elements of the camp, from educational content and entertainment to managing volunteers, kitchen staff and medics. Braun and Werner-Hall also collaborated with, and welcomed on-site, two additional Netzer graduates from the UK to visit and contribute to the Netzer camp experience: Dan Pollock from LJY-Netzer and Annie Levy from RSY-Netzer, as well as Shaliach David Gottlieb. 

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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Shabbat and High Holiday Prayer Books Seeking New Homes in WUPJ Congregations

Just in time for the high holidays, congregations from the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) have generously offered to donate thousands of copies of Gates of Prayer for Shabbat and Weekdays and/or the high holiday Machzor Gates of Repentance to synagogues of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) that are in need of such prayer books for their congregations. 

Other than paying for shipping costs to your doorstep, these prayer books are being donated free of charge. If you are interested in acquiring some of these books for your congregation, please contact Shimrit Levy in our Jerusalem office to coordinate. 

Thank you in advance to the URJ congregations who volunteered for this Mitzvah.

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Catch Up with Temple Israel on its 80th: Purchase the Commemorative Magazine Today

Straight from the gala celebrations of its 80th anniversary on July 9, 2016, Temple Israel Hillbrow, the founding synagogue of the South African Progressive Jewish Movement is offering its commemorative magazine for purchase to World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) members. 

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

The magazine is bound to take you down memory lane if you grew up in South Africa, and even if you didn’t, it is a fascinating, anecdotal history for anyone interested in the past – showcasing the history of Progressive Judaism in the country, the founding of Temple Israel and the Sisterhoods, and the new Heritage Centre with its permanent exhibition on Progressive synagogues in South Africa. 

To purchase your copy for $25 USD, including postage, please email Darryl Egnal or Jacob Hurwitz today.
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Monica Solomon Appointed New Incoming Chairperson of South African Union for Progressive Judaism
The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) extends its congratulations in welcoming Monica Solomon as the incoming Chairperson of the South African Union for Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ). Monica’s appointment signals the completion of Alvin Kushner’s two-year term as Chair, to whom the World Union extends its gratitude for his dedication and service, and marks the first time a woman will hold this position. 

Monica Solomon appointed new incoming chair of SAUPJ

“I am proud to head up this wonderful organisation with its rich history of commitment and dedication to the Progressive communities in the country,” Solomon said. “In addition to the cohesive role the SAUPJ fulfils within our community, we have a long tradition of working for the less privileged in our society. Solomon is ‘no stranger to the world of Progressive Judaism’”, said SAUPJ in a press release. She has been active in the SAUPJ since 1997 and is also a member of the board of Women of Reform Judaism, headquartered in New York.
Read more about Monica and the SAUPJ in the South Africa Jewish Report.

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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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