Issue # 345

Issue #345 – 22 January 2009 / 26 Tevet 5769


IN THIS ISSUE:


PROGRESSIVE JEWISH LEADERS HEADLINE AT CONNECTIONS 2009

ISRAELI CONGREGATION RECEIVES TORAH HONORING FALLEN SOLDIER

HANUKAH MIRACLES IN KYIV

UJCL AND NETZER HOLD YOUTH CAMP IN PANAMA

LBC TO AUCTION CHAGALL WORKS TO HELP FUND RABBINIC SCHOLARHSIP AND LIBRARY

UPCOMING EVENTS

 

PROGRESSIVE JEWISH LEADERS HEADLINE AT CONNECTIONS 2009

Major figures in the world of global Progressive Jewry will headline several sessions at this year’s World Union convention, CONNECTIONS 2009.

Rabbi Baroness Julia Neuberger will kick off the first full day of the convention, Thursday, March 19th, with a morning keynote address titled “A New Inclusivity for Jews and Judaism – Stepping Out of the Kosher Closet.” A special presentation on the growth of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism is slated for Friday morning and will be made by the new executive director of the IMPJ, Rabbi Gilad Kariv. Sunday morning begins with a talk by the dean of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem, Rabbi Michael Marmur.

The speaker lineup also includes two prominent leaders of the North American Reform movement, Rabbi Danny Freelander, executive vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, URJ vice president of programming.

For further information about these and other scheduled speakers, please visit the CONNECTIONS 2009 Web site, where the speakers page will soon be completed.

Registration for the convention is still open and filling up quickly, so if you haven’t already done so, log on to the CONNECTIONS 2009 Web site, where you can register online or download the form to complete and fax.




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ISRAELI CONGREGATION RECEIVES TORAH HONORING FALLEN SOLDIER


Kehilat Mevasseret Zion, an affiliate of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism in the Jerusalem suburb of Mevasseret Zion, dedicated a new Torah scroll during a ceremony at Kabbalat Shabbat services on January 2.

The scroll was one of seven commissioned and donated by U.S. Jewish philanthropist, Ira Rennert, in memory of soldiers who fell in the fighting with Hezbollah in the summer of 2006. One of the soldiers was Uri Grossman, son of the world-renowned author David Grossman. The Grossmans are members of Kehilat Mevasseret Zion, and Uri, who died trying to rescue fellow tank crewmen, attended services as much as he could, even during his precious few hours away from the army.

David Grossman and his wife, Michal, were given the Torah at the Netiv Aryeh Yeshiva in Jerusalem's Old City late last year when a total of 12 scrolls donated by Rennert were ceremoniously completed by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former chief rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Aharon Bina, head of the yeshiva, and others. Among the honored guests at the ceremony was Defense Minister Ehud Barak, as well as Rabbi Maya Leibovich, spiritual leader of Kehilat Mevasseret Zion.

The Torah was brought into Kehilat Mevasseret's synagogue building following a procession through the neighborhood, which included the Grossmans, congregational leaders, the congregation’s preschool students and visiting friends from Temple Haverim of Plainview, NY, and their rabbi, Jonathan Hecht. Once inside the sanctuary, it was carried around the bimah three times. According to Leibovich, the first hakafa was in memory of all the soldiers who fell in the 2006 fighting; the second was for the seven soldiers in whose memory the Torah scrolls were written; the third was for Uri.

Afterwards, the Torah was opened to the weekly portion of Vayigash, in which Joseph, in Egypt, reveals himself to his brothers. Several sections were read before the scroll was lifted, rolled, redressed and placed in the ark by Uri’s brothers, Nir and Ariel.

Prior to Kabbalat Shabbat services, Michal Grossman addressed the congregation. She noted that yet again there was warfare, as the ceremony took place after almost a week of aerial bombardments of the Gaza Strip and the evening before Israel began its ground assault.

“When we scheduled the date [for this ceremony],” she said, “we did not know we’d be standing here…when the canons again roar, the IDF has been called in to defend the residents of the south…and the memories of the Second Lebanon War come flooding back. Our hearts today are with the soldiers, with the residents of the south, and with all people whose sole wish is to live in quiet on both sides of the border.”


In a bittersweet ceremony, Israeli author David Grossman carries a Torah donated in honor of his fallen soldier son, Uri, into the Progressive synagogue in Mevasseret Zion.


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HANUKAH MIRACLES IN KYIV


Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny, the World Union’s senior rabbi in Ukraine, lit the menorah candles this past Hanukah together with Chabad Rabbi Jonathan Markowitz during a holiday ceremony in Kyiv, which was sponsored by several Jewish organizations, including the Jewish Agency, the Joint Distribution Committee and the local Israeli cultural center.

“For the modern Jew,” said Dukhovny, “it is difficult to believe in miracles. However…miracles do happen!” He was referring to the often acrimonious relations that Chabad and other Orthodox organizations have with non-Orthodox religious movements working in the former Soviet Union.

Hatikva, Dukhovny’s congregation in Kyiv, held its own celebrations during the eight-day holiday, with over 100 members gathering in one of its preschool classrooms to light the first candle. The evening also included a performance by 25 preschoolers, aged three to six, and an auction to benefit the congregation.

The items for the auction were donated by London’s Harrow and Wembley Progressive Synagogue and by Temple Shalom of Naples, Florida, Hatikva’s two sister congregations. Dukhovny thanked Rita Asbury, Hanna Schlesinger and Judi and Howard Palay, members of the U.S. and British congregations, for sending the items to Kyiv “to make the Hanukah miracles real.”

Hatikva opened its doors to the entire Jewish community of Kyiv on the Friday night of Hanukah, inviting everyone to light the sixth candle and participate in Kabbalat Shabbat services before sitting down to a meal of traditional holiday food. Dukhovny lit the final Hanukah candle at a ceremony sponsored by the Jewish Agency to close the festival of lights in Kyiv. “Miracles are about all of us who make them a reality every day!” he said.


Members of Congregation Hatikva in Kyiv gather with their preschoolers to light Hanukah candles.


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UJCL AND NETZER HOLD YOUTH CAMP IN PANAMA

The Union of Jewish Congregations of Latin America and the Caribbean (UJCL) and Netzer Olami, the World Union’s international Zionist youth movement, sponsored a winter camp in Panama, December 26-31, for 35 youths aged 10-16 from that country and El Salvador. In addition, 15 children, aged five to nine, took part in activities on the last day of the camp, which was held near the coast at Santa Clara, about 60 miles away from Panama City.

The camp was called “Mahanesh,” a play on the Hebrew words machane (camp) and esh (fire). According to Igal Entenberg, Netzer Olami’s Panama City-based regional shaliach (emissary) and camp director, the name symbolized the candles of Hanukah, the holiday on which the camp took place, and the bonfire, “where, after a day full of activities, all of the campers came together to share their experiences and get to know each other.”

Assisting Entenberg were Miri Nachmias, as well as five counselors from Panama and two – Teffy Lipquin and Daniel Sanchez, both highly experienced Netzer leaders - from ATID Comunitat Jueva de Catalunya, the World Union affiliate in Barcelona, Spain.

“Most of our chanichim {campers) were already leading younger kvutzot (groups) themselves in their respective communities,” writes Sanchez. “However, due to the fact that Netzer is still relatively new in these communities, most had not had the opportunity of experiencing a machane as chanichim. Therefore, we had the challenge of making this group have a joyful and fun experience as chanichim.”

He also praised the “exchange” aspect of bringing camp staff from abroad, calling it “the most concrete proof of the fact that Netzer is a global movement, [making] all of us realize that we are just a small part of a much greater educational Jewish project.”

The camp program included studies focusing on Hanukah and other aspects of Judaism, Shabbat and daily worship, as well as sports and games. Rabbi Gustavo Kraselnik, spiritual leader of Panama City’s Kol Shearith Israel Congregation (and formerly rabbi at Comunidad Israelita de El Salvador in San Salvador), oversaw the program and called it “extraordinary,” saying the campers were “overjoyed by the shared experience.”

The camp was made possible thanks to funding from the UJCL and Netzer through a grant from Michele and Martin Cohen for developing Netzer in South and Central America. Kraselnik said he hopes the camp won’t be the last of its kind. “We face the enormous challenge of keeping these activities going to provide our youngsters a place for interaction,” he said. “I’m sure that after this first and unforgettable machane, it will be much easier.”


Participants in the recent Progressive Jewish youth camp held last month in Panama.


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LBC TO AUCTION CHAGALL WORKS TO HELP FUND RABBINIC SCHOLARHSIP AND LIBRARY

London’s Leo Baeck College, which trains rabbis and educators for Britain, continental Europe and the FSU, will be auctioning 49 books about Marc Chagall that were signed and specially illustrated by the artist. The collection was donated to the college in 1993 in recognition of its role in training rabbis for an emerging Jewish Europe by Alfred and Irmgard Neuman, who had been neighbors of Chagall in St. Paul de Vence, France, for 30 years.

The collection was exhibited once after its arrival, and was then stored in a room for rare books in the LBC library. As it is not directly relevant to the college’s work or studies, LBC’s Board of Governors decided to offer it to a wider audience. The proceeds from the sale will help the college expand and enhance its work, which now includes the training and post-graduate continuing development of rabbis across the whole of Europe, as well as an internationally recognized education department for the training of teachers and educators for Jewish schools and communities.

The auction will take place at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 29 at Bloomsbury Auctions, 24 Maddox Street, London, W1S 1PP. The catalogue can be viewed at www.bloomsburyauctions.com, where there are online bidding facilities. For additional information, contact Arlene Rose, LBC’s fund-raising and development officer, at arlene.rose@lbc.ac.uk.


1974 "Self-portrait Painting with Red Sun" and dedication to the donors on the title page of
Chagall Lithographie volume IV, to be auctioned for the benefit of Leo Baeck College.


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UPCOMING EVENTS

January 29-February 7, 2009
– Beutel Seminar for Progressive Jewish Leadership at the World Union's Anita Saltz International Education Center in Jerusalem.

March 18-23, 2009
CONNECTIONS 2009 – The 34th international convention of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

March 29-April 2, 2009
Riding4Reform – Sixth annual IMPJ countrywide bicycle fund-raising tour.


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