10 November 2016 // 9 Heshvan 5777
As the dust settles on the stunning upset in the American Presidential Election, Reform Jews in the U.S. – and across the world – woke up to a new reality, a changing global sentiment. The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) joined the Religious Action Center (RAC), Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and other partners in issuing this statement:
November 9, 2016
WASHINGTON – The people have voted and American democracy is strong. We respect that vote and we extend our hand to President-elect Trump. We also extend our hand to the members of the 115th Congress. These leaders will have critical decisions to make that will weigh on the future of our nation, our communities, our families and the entire world. We hope that they govern with wisdom and righteousness to create a space where all Americans are respected.
President-elect Trump has the opportunity to use his office to bring Americans together, and to move us toward a brighter future. If he does so, we will be ready to work with him for the common good. If he does not, we also stand ready to be fierce advocates for the values that guide us: inclusivity, justice and compassion.
This week we read Parshat Lech Lecha with its clarion call to “go forth.” Just as Abraham went out into a place of great uncertainty, we now find ourselves in an unanticipated time and place. But we know, like Abraham, that our faith and enduring values will be a strong foundation as we move forward. We love the stranger, feed the hungry and care for the orphan and the widow.
Throughout our Reform Movement's history, our congregations, institutions, rabbis, cantors, other professionals and lay leaders have striven to bring all of us together to strengthen and to sustain one another, and to work together in the pursuit of justice for everyone. We welcome all: Jews and non-Jews, people of all races and religions, of all sexual orientations and gender identities and the immigrants among us. That welcome is the essence of who we are as a community, and who we are as a country, and that remains as true today as it has ever been.
As we pray each week in our synagogues on Shabbat in the Prayer for our Nation, we ask God for guidance for ourselves and for our nation, to grant our leaders the wisdom and forbearance to govern with justice and compassion. We ask God to help us appreciate one another and to respect the many ways that we may be faithful to the ways of righteousness, and to keep our country sound in body and spirit.
Union for Reform Judaism
Daryl Messinger, Chair, North American Board of Trustees
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Denise L. Eger, President
Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Isabel P. Dunst, Chair, Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director
Advancing Temple Institutional Development
American Conference of Cantors
Association of Reform Jewish Educators
Association of Reform Zionists of America
Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism
Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
Men of Reform Judaism
National Association for Temple Administration
North American Federation of Temple Youth
Women of Reform Judaism
Women’s Rabbinic Network
World Union for Progressive Judaism
ReformJudaism.org has also collected responses from Reform Rabbis of the URJ as a resource for understanding and responding the impact of this changing face of America from a Progressive Jewish lens. Including:
- Rabbi Paul Kipnes of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA, shared a "Prayer for the Day After the U.S. Presidential Election," referencing that moment at the Red Sea when our people despaired like never before. He writes, “To stand still was not an option.”
- Rabbi Zoë Klein of Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles, CA, wrote an "Open Letter to All Americans Following the Presidential Election," sharing the story of King Solomon, who asked only for a listening heart when God offered him anything he wished. “He didn’t ask for might,” she writes, “He didn’t ask for wealth. He didn’t even ask for wisdom. He asked for a listening heart.”
- Senior Reform Rabbi to the Movement for Reform Judaism in the UK, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, describes how Trump stoked fear to win the election – and how to fight back in this Jewish News article for the Times of Israel, “This is not the day to retreat”.
On November 8, 2016, the Hebrew date of Cheshvan 7, dozens of Reform communities, rabbis, educators, and lay leaders around the world celebrated Diaspora Israel Day, a new Jewish date on the calendar honoring the relationships and strength among our people despite being scattered around the globe.
Diaspora Day in Israel
Now in its second year, DOMIM is a partnership platform of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) together with the government of Israel, led by Rabbi Nir Barkin and Smadar Bilik, that strives to create an open group of progressive Jewish communities around the world, linked to each other and to Israel. Rabbi Barkin and Diaspora Israel Day were featured in this Times of Israel article, “A Holiday is Born!” highlighting initiatives on 7th Cheshvan that honor aliyah, Israel-Diaspora relations and more.
Connect with Diaspora Israel Day online to learn more about this new holiday, including resources and materials for you to download and introduce to your communities.
On Sunday evening, November 6, Kehillat Yedid Nefesh in Carmiel, one of the Reform congregations in northern Israel, dedicated its new congregational building, which was funded in part by the Israel Ministry of Religious Affairs. In attendance were Carmiel’s mayor and other city officials, representatives from Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), along with over 200 congregational members, made up of tzabarim (Israeli natives), and immigrants from the FSU, Argentina and the U.S.
The new synagogue of Kehillat Yedid Nefesh in Carmiel
Besides the general joy of dedicating a new synagogue, the dedication of Yedid Nefesh has added meaning as it was funded in part by the Israeli government, and specifically by the Ministry of Religious Affairs; this being the result of a Supreme Court ruling mandating that the Israeli government support non-Orthodox congregations.
Carmiel’s mayor and other city officials with representatives from
the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ)
The new congregation of Kehillat Yedid Nefesh in Carmiel is one more example of how pluralistic Judaism and the Israel Reform Movement in particular is laying the groundwork for welcoming a growing number of Israelis who are looking for a progressive and egalitarian way to celebrate their Judaism.
“My big learning from all the studies in teen engagement is that one size does NOT fit all. Individually matching each of our young people with an opportunity for deep engagement in a skill that matches their social, intellectual, physical or artistic interest may be the next horizon in maximizing Jewish connections.”
To read the full op-ed piece from Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, click here. Noted US-based educator and author, Dr. Ron Wolfson, will be joining the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ) in Perth, for their upcoming biennial on November 17-20.
Building Synagogues that Relate is Dr. Wolfson’s most recent book which talks about turning a shul from an edifice into a welcoming center of learning and friendship, which is Dr. Ron Wolfson’s specialty.
Click here to read the full interview.
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.
It’s not as easy as it looks!
Beutel Participants 2015 (picture by Bety Dimant)
To nominate individuals from your congregation or find out how the Beutel seminar will transform your community, click here today. The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) is gearing up to launch our CONNECTIONS 2017 website and online registration pages next week. If you already pre-registered, you will receive the links and related materials shortly.
Taking place May 17-20 in Jerusalem, Israel CONNECTIONS 2017 offers deep learning, meaningful leadership development, and engaging events that will inspire Progressive Jews from all facets of communal life – leaders, educators, volunteers, activists, professionals, students, rabbis and more – with workshops, seminars, worship services, tours and much more.
CONNECTIONS 2017 Milestones & Innovation will honor the historical milestones from our Zionist and Progressive history over the past 200 years, while exploring the innovative ways Klal Yisrael and Progressive Judaism have evolved ever since.
Pre-convention programs begin as early as May 11, 2017.
Click here to sign up for news and updates from the WUPJ and about CONNECTIONS.
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