30 March 2017 // 3 Nisan 5777
Spend your first evening of CONNECTIONS 17 with friends and family
at Olmaya, overlooking Jerusalem Stav Shaffir is the youngest female Knesset member in Israel's history, outspoken for demanding fiscal oversight of settlement funding and supporting a wide array of social justice issues: from affordable housing for young Israelis to the rights of Women of the Wall. Shaffir placed second in the January 2015 primaries of the Labor Party and holds the third place in the internal Labor list (or alternatively the fourth place on the combined Labor–Hatnuah list). Shaffir was one of a small group of leaders of the 2011 Israeli social justice protests, Israel's largest-ever protest, focusing on housing, public services, income inequality and democracy – and eventually rose to become spokeswoman of the movement.
A video of Shaffir's speech at the Knesset on January 21, 2015 went viral. In it, Shaffir sharply attacks Israel's right wing politicians, saying, "Don't preach to us about Zionism, because real Zionism means dividing the budget equally among all the citizens of the country. Real Zionism is taking care of the weak. Real Zionism is solidarity, not only in battle but in everyday life." Shaffir was one of only eight MKs to forgo their 2015 pay raise calling it "distasteful" in light of wage stagnation in the Israeli job market.
Most recently, Shaffir was appointed Chair of the newly established Committee of Government transparency in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Committee is a joint initiative led by Shaffir, the Israeli Foreign Affairs ministry, and the OECD representative in Israel. The task of this committee is to share knowledge, research, and methods between different parliaments across the world, in a mission to expose and end political corruption. The first meeting took place in Paris on the February 12, 2017 and there were representatives from more than 90 different countries in attendance.
Shaffir is an inspiration to upstart activists and social justice advocates across the Israeli religious and social spectrum. The World Union looks forward to attending Shaffir’s plenary session on Inspiring the Next Generation at CONNECTIONS 2017, where she will talk about her experience and advice for mobilizing younger segments of society to generate significant change at the highest levels of government.
For more about CONNECTIONS 2017, including how you can register to join, click here today! Professor Tsvia Walden, renowned educator and linguist, and daughter of the late Shimon Peres, along with her husband Professor Raphael Walden, a high-profile medico and activist, visited Australia as part of a United Israel Appeal’s Progressive Trust campaign. From their arrival on March 3 until their departure on March 12, leadership of the Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ), Helen Shardey, former parliamentarian and member of the UPJ Executive, Brian Samuel, Vice-President, and Roger Mendelson, President, welcomed, hosted and led the Waldens on tours and site visits of key Jewish schools and communities in Sydney and Melbourne.
Victrorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel with Professors Tzvi and Rafi Walden
A highlight of the trip was a visit to the State Parliament where the Waldens, along with UPJ and other Jewish community leaders, had afternoon tea with a contingent of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel. The visit was organised by Helen Shardey, who was, for many years, a member of State parliament and one of the founders of the Victorian Parliamentary Friends of Israel. During the meeting, Professors Tzvia and Rafi Walden provided overviews of their backgrounds before presenting how and why they became involved with Progressive Judaism, the importance of its philosophy and how they integrate those values into their individual public and professional lives.
Professor Rafi Walden outlined much of the work he and his colleagues were performing both in the Ramallah region, as well as Gaza. In addition, he informed them about the medical assistance provided to injured Syrians on the border with Israel, where the wounded are initially treated before being moved to the larger hospitals in Tel Aviv, if required. This information was gracefully welcomed by all present, as much of what was communicated by the Waldens is not openly expressed in our Australian news services.
As their trip coincided with Purim, the Waldens attended Megillah reading at Temple Beth Israel in Melbourne. To read more about the Waldens' visit to Jewish communities and Reform congregations in Australia, including an interview with Professor Tsvia Walden in the Australian Jewish News, click here.
The Debbie Friedman z”l Memorial Concert at Beit Shmuel February 2017
A member of the HUC-JIR faculty from 2007 until her passing in 2011, Debbie Friedman inspired students through her creativity and musical talents, helped guide their spiritual and leadership development, and provided them with innovative strategies to transform congregations into communities of learning and meaning. In 2011, the School of Sacred Music was renamed the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music so as to honor her legacy.
Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, President of the WUPJ, speaking
to the crowd at the Debbie Friedman z”l Memorial Concert
at Beit Shmuel in February 2017
Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, President of the WUPJ and an alumnus of HUC-JIR, addressed the crowd during the concert, recalling Debbie and her unique song-leading style. WUPJ guests in attendance included participants of the EIE Heller High School program of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and of Shnat Netzer, a post-high-school program for British, Australian and South African teens from Netzer Olami, the global Reform Youth movement of the World Union; along with lay leaders from Australia, North America and Europe participating in the Beutel Leadership Seminar 2017.
Rabbi Haim Shalom from HUC-JIR closed the evening, thanking the community for their warm participation and urging all present to carry on Debbie's mission of healing and leadership through elevating our spirits, for as she sang, "Not by Might and not by Power, but by Spirit alone, shall we all live in peace."
As the Passover holiday nears - April 10-17 (in Israel), we’ve been gathering articles, recipes and printables to help enhance your celebration of this experiential holiday. Follow our Passover Pinterest board for ideas and inspiration for everything from your Seder, to the Haggadah, to the last days of matzah-eating - or click through for additional resources below.
- The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) in North America has this holiday resource on their website with everything from activities and explanations about Seder objects to thought pieces that explore Passover’s implications for today’s issues - social justice and gender equality among them.
- The URJ is also hosting a live Passover Cooking Facebook event to chat with Chef Tina Wasserman on Tuesday March 30, 10am EDT. Tina Wasserman will answer all your questions about matzah balls and brisket - and even demonstrate how to prepare her famous Passover granola! Visit their Facebook page to join.
- For Hebrew readers, the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) put together these resources for Seder leaders and participants. They also welcome donations for their Kamcha de Pascha food drive for families in need across Israel - click through for details and how you can contribute.
If you have a special recipe or tradition to share, please visit our Facebook page to post on our wall and share your customs with our global family.
Spend five days meeting with leading politicians, judges, legislators, professors, attorneys and activists, each presenting a different facet of the prism that comprises Israel’s national and international law. Tour Israel’s Supreme Court and meet with justices; visit the Knesset and debate legislation with ministers.
Click here for details and to sign up today!
This July, join Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) on a special ten-day mission to experience and learn more about Netzer Summer camps across Ukraine, Germany and France. See first-hand how we’re reviving Jewish identity and engagement through camping among the next generation.
Join the WUPJ Summer Mission in July 2017 to Netzer Summer Camps in Ukraine, Germany and France.
Click here for details, including fees and itinerary.
The story of Jewish ties to the Caribbean is a fascinating one, dating back to Christopher Columbus and his first trans-Atlantic voyage. Home to some of the oldest Jewish communities in the Americas, the Caribbean also lays claim to synagogues with sandy floors, cemeteries that date back hundreds of years, and Jewish families who still call the islands home. Join the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) for a relaxing and historically stimulating trip to the Islands, featuring Jewish music, shared song and prayer.
Josh Nelson, pictured here performing at the World Union biennial in Rio,
will be joining the WUPJ 2018 Caribbean cruise for special performances
(Photo © Courtesy of Dale Lazar)
Click here for details, including fees and itinerary. After four years working as Netzer Coordinator in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), and the past 12 years as Director of Operations and Programs in the FSU, Dr. Alex Kagan has been appointed Head of Global Strategic Planning and Rector of the Institute for Modern Jewish Studies in Moscow. His new responsibilities will include research and development of long-term strategies for regions of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) regions and maintaining strong connections with them. Alex will also direct the Institute for Modern Jewish Studies in Moscow. In addition, he will represent the World Union at the World Zionist Organization (WZO).
Dr. Alex Kagan
"It is a big honor for me to continue to serve the World Union in these new positions. I am grateful to the leadership for their faith in me. Until now, my tenure as Director of Operations and Programs in the FSU has been the most significant position in my professional career, with solid achievements and quite a few ongoing plans for the future. However, the greatest successes for me are the strong ties I have established with the many people whom I hope to further advance in the future in my new positions. I thank the entire staff in the FSU for these incredible years of productive cooperation."
Rabbi Steve Burnstein will become the Head of Global Leadership Development and Education of the World Union, expanding his responsibilities after five years as Director of the Anita Saltz International Education Center. Rabbi Burnstein will be responsible for cultivating lay and professional leadership, working closely with our regional leadership, rabbinic councils and rabbinic seminaries. He will also serve as the key contact for rabbinic placement with congregations around the world.
Rabbi Steve Burnstein
“It’s inspiring to see the alumni of our WUPJ leadership and education seminars around the world engaged in meaningful work on the boards of our regions and communities – and teaching in our schools. I’m excited for the opportunity to expand the reach of our work by taking a more active role with our regional leadership and seminaries, working closely to further strengthen Progressive Judaism for the future.“
Margarita (Rita) Feitzer (Fruman) will assume the position of Director of Operations and Programs in the Former Soviet Union (FSU) after more than ten successful years as Coordinator of Netzer/TaMaR and MASA programming in the FSU.
Within the framework of her new position, she will be in charge of World Union activities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, responsible for staffing, fundraising, creating a budget and developing twinning congregations.
“It’s very important to me to carry on my professional development at the World Union, and I am thankful to the leadership for choosing me to continue my work in enhancing the movements' achievements in the FSU. Over the past ten years as Coordinator of Netzer in the FSU, I learned a great deal, acquired considerable professional experience, and implemented many interesting projects. I am grateful to Netzer staff for our great work together, and hope to continue it.”
Debbie Ben-Zvi (Pulik) will be leaving her position as Project Developer for the World Union. Following the birth of her twin boys, who joined two sisters, she has decided to devote more time to her family. Debbie's investment in the development of activities in the FSU has been significant, including leading the Passover and twinning projects. Her active involvement and devotion ensured the success of the FSU Department. We thank Debbie for her 14 years of hard work and dedication, and wish her success in all of her future endeavors.
"I thank all of the FSU staff for more than 10 years of fulfilling work and memories that I will cherish always."
Israel’s foremost writer and intellectual, Amos Oz, will be honored with the Abraham Geiger Award in a ceremony to be held on May 25, 2017 in Berlin. The award recognizes persons who have made outstanding contributions with regard to pluralism and who have shown great commitment towards openness, courage, tolerance, and freedom of thought. The laudatory speech shall be delivered by Dr. Klaus Lederer, Senator for Culture and Europe of the State of Berlin. Rabbi Walter Homolka, Rector of Abraham Geiger College, noted, ”With Amos Oz, we honor a man who is a firm believer in human beings and their ability to change the world for the better. His confidence is our consolation. Therefore, the jury decided to award Amos Oz with the Abraham Geiger Award.” Click here to read the full press release.
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