Issue #495 – 21 August 2014 / 25 Av 5774
Up Close: Bergman 2014 Seminar for Progressive Jewish Educators
Kehilat Shanghai Launches Kasahun Baynesian Memorial Fund
UPJ Germany Teaches, Worships and Inspires at 20th Annual Conference
Czech Jewry Gets a Dose of Yedishkeit at 8th Reform Shabbaton
Can WUPJ Rally to Save a Texas Boy's Bar Mitzvah?h
Ending on a High: IMPJ's Havaya Summer Camp Session Concludes
Spanish Solidarity: Netzer Barcelona Visits Israel
Bonding in Bomb Shelters: RRA Rabbis Take Part in Intense, Stimulating Seminar
I: Seminar under the Cloud of War
By Rabbi Steve Burnstein, Director Anita Saltz International Education Center
Participants in this year's Bergman Seminar for Jewish Educators received and gave much more than they expected. Meeting with innovative educators and cutting-edge projects, and learning how to use these experiences to enhance their own communities, was all part of the itinerary. However, being in Israel during Operation Protective Edge was an unforeseen development that added an extra layer of meaning to the Seminar.
the Seminar participants met, taxi drivers, waiters, shopkeepers, and
educators, expressed tremendous gratitude for being in Israel during this
period. Seminar attendees learned firsthand about the resilience, courage,
compassion and strength of Israelis. They saw how life continues in tense
two days before the program was to begin, international airlines cancelled
flights to Israel. As a result, many of our participants were unable to get to
Israel for the Seminar.
Our first morning as a group, we explored Jerusalem with master educator Alexandra Benjamin who discussed different approaches to Jerusalem, exile and the Diaspora. Then, we continued to a street fair on Emek Refaim street, where merchants from the south of Israel had come to Jerusalem to sell their products.
For our first Kabbalat Shabbat we were joined by Rabbi Ada Zavidov, Cantor Evan Cohen and their community, the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism's (IMPJ) Kehilat Har El, for a lively service followed by Shabbat dinner at Mercaz Shimshon /Beit Shmuel, the World Union for Progressive Judaism's (WUPJ) headquarters. We spent our second Shabbat at the Beit Tfila HaYisraeli in Tel Aviv…
What adventures await the Bergman Seminar 13? Stay tuned for the next installment!
On July 17, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Officer Kasahun Baynesian was killed when his brigade’s jeep was struck by an anti-tank missile fired by terrorists from Gaza. Three of Kasahun's fellow soldiers also perished in the attack. What exacerbates this tragedy is that Kasahun’s wife, Galeitu, was nine-months pregnant with the couple's fourth child when her husband was killed.
In response, Kehilat Shanghai has launched an initiative to support the widow Galeitu and her four young children. The Kasahun family immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia and currently live in Netivot - a small town in the south of Israel.
Unfortunately, many Ethiopian Jews serving with honor in the IDF do not have the financial resources that the wider Israeli society does.
Kehilat Shanghai's goal is to present a substantial financial contribution to the Kasahun family in an attempt to secure, at least in part, its financial future. All monies raised will be given directly to the family. Specifically, a savings account will be opened for the Kasahun family children. As such, all contributions will ultimately be divided among the five surviving members of Kasahun's family.
Kehilat Shanghai is coordinating this effort directly with the Danny Adenaw Abebe, an award-winning journalist with Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.
The 20th annual conference of the Union for
Progressive Judaism in Germany took place in
Berlin-Spandau. Participants from each of the UPJ's 24 congregations took part.
More than 30 workshop sessions in German, English and Russian about practical
community work, liturgy and music, rabbinical tops were conducted.
In response to the situation in the Middle East, Rabbi Dr. Henry Brandt and Guenther Ginzel gave an insightful overview of the latest developments as well as advice on how German Jewish communities should address such issues as anti-Semitism.
Shabbat services were led by Rabbi Reuven Bar-Ephraim. On Shabbat morning, the rabbinical and cantorial students of the Abraham Geiger College made the service a memorable one.
On the last day of the conference, elections were held. In a landslide victory, Sonja Guentner, Chairperson of UPJ Germany, garnered 75 out of the 77 votes cast by delegates. Deborah Tal-Ruettger was also confirmed as Vice-Chair. The UPJ's other board members are Alexandra Khariakova, Verena Menn, Michaela Michalowitz, Rabbi Dr. Walter Rothschild and Benno Simoni.
Over 250 participants, from member congregations as well as those that are organized under the Central Council of Jews in Germany, attended UPJ's inspirational four-day gathering.
The 2015 conference will be held from July 2 to July 5 in Berlin.
The 8th Reform Shabbaton for Czech Jewry, under the auspices of Prague's Bejt Simcha community, was held from August 15 to 17 in the beautiful town of Karlovy Vary/Carlsbad. The 70 participants enjoyed a multi-faceted weekend where services were held in the synagogue of the local Jewish community, with the cooperation of Pavel Rubin, Chairman of the Karlovy Vary Community.
Bejt Simcha cantor Ivan Kohout led the Erev Shabbat services that included a Dvar torah by Professor Paul Liptz, Director of Education at the Anita Saltz International Education Center.
On Saturday afternoon, Professor Liptz gave a presentation on Israel and the contemporary Middle East that was followed by a Q and A session that evening.
While Czech Jews have long been committed to learning, their positive feelings towards Israel are also a testament to the Czech government's supportive stance.
An afternoon walk through the quaint town was led by local congregants who also took the group on Sunday morning to the Hroznetin cemetery, which is located on the top of an isolated hill. This strangely placed final resting place is the result of 18th century legislation restricting the burial activities of Jews.
The Shabbaton concluded with a visit to the two synagogues in Pilsen/Plzen. Both have been restored and the Great Synagogue is now used as a concert hall. The synagogue's renovation was part of the "10 Stars Revitalization of Jewish Monuments", an initiative aided by European Union funds.
Michal Spevak, Chairman of Bejt Simcha, together with Olga Melzochova, organized a marvelous weekend that enabled Czech Jews to experience an all-encompassing Jewish atmosphere.
The community has developed considerably in the last decade, largely due to the generous financial assistance of Liz and Jim Breslauer.
By Barbara Boyd Cohen, Proud Mother of Cameron.
Recent events in far off Israel had a direct impact on our son Camron's long-planned Bar Mitzvah. When Cameron asked me and my husband two years ago to be Bar Mitvahed in Israel, we were thrilled. Having visited the country twice before our kids were born, we had always hoped for an opportunity that would allow them to fall in love with Israel the way we did.
Focused on a Jerusalem Bar Mitzvah, we got busy. First, we contacted Rabbi Wilfond in Jerusalem, who would go on to work as Cameron’s tutor. Next, we lined up a guide who would take us all over Israel.
(Image courtesy of israelstreet.org)
We were all set to fly to Tel Aviv on July 26. Then, came the news reports about the killing of three Israeli teenagers and the subsequent murder of a Palestinian teenager. Despite the growing tension, our plans remained unaffected until days before our departure, when the FAA announced it was suspending all flights to Tel Aviv.
Time for Plan B. What Plan B? We frantically decided on what
to do next: Cameron's Jerusalem Bar-Mitzvah would have to be held somewhere in
Finding a European Reform congregation to celebrate our son's Bar Mitzvah was a long shot. Still, I contacted our rabbi in Texas, who suggested we get in touch with the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
One day before our scheduled departure, I visited the WUPJ web site and sent out an SOS e-mail. I was not optimistic about getting a reply.
However, within a few short minutes I received a response from Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, Vice President, Philanthropy for the World Union for Progressive Judaism, who quickly put me in touch with Miriam Kramer, Chairman of the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) and a London resident.
Still, we were skeptical. We departed Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport convinced that Cameron's Bar Mitzvah was not going to happen…
Will Cameron Cohen be Bar-Mitvahed? Will WUPJ save the day? Keep an eye out for the next newsletter, where all shall be revealed!
There is sure to be something for you at CONNECTIONS 2015. Seize this opportunity to meet with our global leadership and hear about exciting and innovative programs that are taking place in communities near and far.
Time to connect: visit the just launched CONNECTIONS 2015 page on Facebook!
Another one of the IMPJ's Havaya Summer Camp sessions has come to a successful end.
In spite of the recent tensions in Israel, close to 20 Netzer Barcelona madrichim recently flew into and spent time in the country. This group of friends and future leaders landed in Israel on August 14.
The Spanish delegation was escorted by two Australian participants in the current Shnat program to Shabbat services at congregation Kol Haneshama. Following the service, these same 'Shnatties' organized and ran an oneg (Shabbat activity) in honor of the madrichim from Barcelona at the nearby Yitzhak Rabin Youth Hostel.
On Sunday, the madrichim had an important meeting with Maoz Haviv, Executive Director of Netzer Olami, Michael Vainberg, Director of Netzer's Shnat Program and Anna Posner, who is currently acting as Educational Director of Netzer Olami.
The Netzer Barcelona madrichim then visited Yad Vashem, the nation's official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
Next, the visitors from Spain left Israel's capital city to explore other parts of the country. The group is scheduled to fly back home on August 24.
Twenty-five members of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association recently came to Israel for an intensive eight-day seminar.
The rabbis were told about the challenges facing the Reform Movement in Israel. Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Executive Director of the IMPJ, Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean of HUC-JIR/Jerusalem and Anat Hoffman, Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, provided insights into both the difficulties faced by the Movement as well as its many successes and opportunities going forward.
This exploration continued with in a meeting with Rabbi
During the course of an intense eight days, seminar participants bonded in stairwells and bomb shelters while learning firsthand about the tense realty of life inside the Jewish State.
Webinar Alert: Make Sense of the Latest Developments in the Middle East
Recent events in the Middle East have once again thrust this volatile region onto the world's headlines. The speed in which new developments occur in this troubled part of the world can often times confuse even the most educated person.
ARZENU and the WUPJ will be holding a special webinar on Sunday, August 24 at 8:00 pm (Israel time) that will consider the myriad of challenges that recent events have presented Israel, as well as global Jewry, with. Please note that as space is limited, you are advised to reserve your spot as soon as possible.
Full content and registration details about the webinar are available here.
Looking for a place to attend High Holiday services this year? With over 1,200
Progressive, Liberal, Reform and Reconstructionist congregations in close to 50
countries, the WUPJ probably has you covered.
Our worldwide family of close to 2,000,000 people looks forward to welcoming you, your loved ones and significant others. Our global community is comprised of singles, families, interfaith couples, young professionals, teachers, students, artists and many more.
So, if you are seeking a traditional yet contemporary expression of Jewish spiritual and cultural identity, look no further: you have found a home for the High Holidays.
Interested? Please contact us.
leadership and staff of the World Union offer their sincerest condolences to
the Beutel family following the loss of Irwin G. Beutel, who passed
away on August 19, 2014 at the age of 78 after a brief illness he fought
bravely. Irwin was the beloved
brother and brother-in-law of Austin and Nani, longtime supporters and members
of the WUPJ currently serving on its Executive Board.
Funeral services will be held from Paperman & Sons (3888 Jean Talon St. W.; Montreal, Canada) on Friday, August 22 at 12:00 noon. Burial will follow at the Congregation Shaar Hashomayim Cemetery (1250 Chemin de la Foret; Outremont). The family will sit Shiva at Irwin’s home from Friday, August 22 through Thursday, August 28. Notes of condolence may be sent to Austin, Nani and family at their residence (33 Gardiner Rd.; Toronto, ON M5P 3B6, Canada) or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
May his memory be for a blessing.
November 20–23, 2014 – Union for Progressive Judaism in Australia, Asia and New Zealand (UPJ) Biennial - "You and I Will Change the World", Adelaide, Australia
January 8-15, 2015 - The Roswell Seminar for Social Justice, Israel
February 5-15, 2015 - Beutel Seminar, Israel
March 22-25, 2015 - Pursue Justice: Seminar for Legal Professionals, Israel
May 13-16, 2015 – Connections 2015, World Union for Progressive Judaism(WUPJ) 37th Biennial Conference, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
May 28-June 7, 2015 - The Israel Study Kallah, Israel
July 2-12, 2015 - Bergman Seminar for Jewish Educators, Israel
June 9-19, 2015 - Australian Council of Christians and Jews Multi-Faith Seminar, Israel
November 4–8, 2015 – Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) 73rd Biennial Conference, Orlando, Florida