Issue #500 – 06 November 2014 / 13 Heshvan 5775
Among the other notable participants at the Conference were Israeli Ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagal, Israeli Consul to Belarus Anna Keinan, six FSU rabbis, executive directors, Netzer coordinators, community chairs and WUPJ's Vice President of International Development Rabbi Joel Oseran.
Rabbi Oseran was most impressed with the deep pool of talented and inspirational local leaders, noting that, "…all the sessions were led by local rabbis and teachers. When we first began our work in the FSU in the late 1980's, rabbis like myself from Israel and others from North America and the UK were needed to do all the teaching, service leading, etc. Today, as we approach the 25th anniversary of the first FSU congregation to affiliate with the WUPJ, our movement has its own indigenous leadership to carry it forward."
During the Conference, 17 different sessions/lectures were held on a variety of topics, ranging from religious content to current events including: Jewish music, Kashrut, Ben Yehuda, Chanukah, working with people with special needs, intermarriage, economic perspectives for 2015.
In total, over one hundred people from across the region and around the world took part in the WUPJ-FSU Conference, proving the wisdom of holding such a gathering on a more frequent, biennial, basis.
The Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) recently began its latest 'Year-In-Israel' program, which annually attracts students from around the world who are interested in enriching their academic journey through an intensive encounter with the land, culture, and people of the Jewish State.
Below are students' thoughts about what inspired them to study in Jerusalem and their expectations for the year ahead:
Why make Jerusalem your classroom? "This year in Jerusalem is an exciting one. I finally have the opportunity to fill in some of the holes of my personal Jewish education. For the first time, I am immersed in the study of Judaism full time and taking courses such as liturgy, second temple history, Rabbinics, biblical grammar and more. These subjects do not come easily to me but I know that as a future Jewish leader this is the foundation that I need. In addition to my course work I am eager to continuing to explore my own relationship to Israel."
Which elements of the upcoming academic are you most excited about?
From October 16 to October 19, young, Progressive Jewish adults, mostly TaMaR activists, from across Europe engaged in high quality learning at the Jewish Journeys Seminar in Krakow, Poland.
50 people from Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Spain, Britain and Israel enjoyed an enlightening program and a unique opportunity to meet fellow young people in a warm, welcoming Progressive Jewish atmosphere.
Seminar participants sat in a variety of stimulating sessions that were led by lecturers from Poland, Germany, Britain and Israel.
Get a Peak: CONNECTIONS 2015 Begins to Take Shape
With the High Holidays behind us, CONNECTIONS 2015, taking place May 13-16 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and being hosted by the Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI), is rapidly coming into focus.
Recently, COO of the WUPJ Shai Pinto joined members of the ARI and WUPJ Latin America in Brazil for a week's worth of intense planning and discussions aimed at making the 37th international gathering of the World Union for Progressive Judaism an inspirational event to remember.
Grande Templo Israelita: Breathtaking site of the CONNECTIONS 2015 Grand Opening gala ceremony, this beautiful monument to the Jewish community of Rio was founded in 1932 and has conducted High Holiday services since 1987.
The ARI: The heart of CONNECTIONS 2015, the Associação Religiosa Israelita de Rio de Janeiro is the epicenter of Reform Jewish life in the city. The ARI is led by Chairman of WUPJ Latin America and ARI Board member Raul Gottlieb; President of the ARI Ricardo Gorodovits; Rabbis Sergio Margulies and Dario Bailer and Cantors Oren Boljover and Andrea Nudelman.
During CONNECTIONS 2015, the ARI will be the stunning setting for religious services; a Rabbinical Kallah; the Lashir Benefesh Cantors and Musicians Seminar and Tamar Young Adults meeting.
The Road to Tikun Olam: CONNECTIONS 2015 planners got to know the Afroreggae Cultural Group up close, spending time at the Favela Vigario Geral. This community center is dedicated to promoting justice and inclusion through art. CONNECTIONS 2015 participants will have the unique opportunity to experience Tikun Olam, Favela style.
Educating Tomorrow's Leaders Today: Details were ironed out for the important role of visits by CONNECTIONS 2015 attendees to Colegios Liessen and Colégio Eliezer Max Nordau during the convention. Jewish education in Latin America is thriving: CONNECTIONS 2015 will show exactly how.
Amid Security Concerns, South African Communities Have Much to Celebrate
National Chairman of the South African Union for Progressive Judaism (SAUPJ) Alvin Kushner is pleased to share some of his thoughts on observing the High Holidays during an especially tense period for his country, and its Jewish population:
"Once again, our Shuls were packed to capacity, our choirs were at their best and we were enriched by some wonderful Dvar Torahs and sermons by our Rabbis and lay readers.
Security over High Holy Days in South Africa was taken very seriously. The Community Security Organisation (CSO) was amazing and looked after our Shuls at all times. No incidents were reported from any of our ten synagogues.
This holiday season was especially festive with the ordination of Rabbi Julia Margolis in Poland a few weeks ago. Rabbi Julia Margolis has joined the rabbinic team at Bet David congregation in Johannesburg. Bet David has also appointed Rabbi Adrian Shell, who commenced his leadership role in the community before the High Holidays. We wish them both success in their appointments to our community.
I had a lengthy meeting with the Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, Arthur Lenk, a member of the Progressive Jewish movement who is deeply interested in the activities of our synagogues in the Gauteng region where he resides.
This is also the year that we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of Temple Israel, Cape Town, as well as the 60th Anniversary of Temple Beit Emanuel, in Johannesburg.
Both congregations have a proud history. We must never forget the early pioneers who established the Progressive community in South Africa."
On 19 October, Temple Israel Cape Town celebrated 70 years of Progressive Judaism at one of the city’s premier establishments, the Grand Cafe and Beach. The beautiful venue and spring weather ensured that all who attended were able to kick off their shoes, relax and enjoy the wonderful food and drink on offer.
The day's entertainment included a musical interlude, courtesy of the temple's newly formed Shira Chadasha singing group. Rabbi Greg Alexander then presented his compelling d’var torah. Next, Temple Israel Cape Town President Roy Fine gave a moving speech marking the congregation’s achievements that included a tribute to the temple's founders, Rabbi Dr David Sherman (z”l) and his wife Bertha.
To close this unforgettable day, Rabbi Malcolm Matitiani conducted a raffle in which participants won some impressive prizes!
Reform Movement Leaders Participate in JAFI Meeting Evaluating the Ramifications of Operation Protective Edge
Representatives of the Reform Movement from Israel and the Diaspora discussed the political and diplomatic aftermath of Operation Protective Edge at a meeting of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), October 26-28 in Ashkelon.
Representatives from ARZENU, the umbrella organization of Reform and Progressive religious Zionists, participated in the meeting, which was held in this southern city as a gesture of support for the communities in the region that suffered during Operation Protective Edge.
Specifically, JAFI's initiatives to assist lone immigrant soldiers; the work of the organization's emissaries around the world in creating dialogue opportunities in their communities and raising awareness about the situation facing Israel today as well as the ongoing efforts to strengthen and support vulnerable communities in the south was the focus of the three-day meeting.
The BOG meeting engaged Board members in a direct dialogue with residents of communities that border the Gaza Strip. WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander was among the participating Reform Movement representatives. Freelander, along with many other Board members expressed their admiration for these vulnerable Israeli residents.
Executive Director of ARZENU Dalya Levy noted, "The residents are nearly unanimous in their support for a peaceful solution to the conflict. As an Israeli, I understand their desire for peace, even as they stand firm in their homes and settlements and refuse to consider moving anywhere else."
Mercaz Shimshon / Beit Shmuel, headquarters of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, went through with a series of highly anticipated walking tours of Jerusalem, despite the recent escalation in violence in the eastern part of the city.
During Sukkot, a number of well-attended day trips covered many parts of Israel's capital city. Another tour held more recently included historic King David Street, location of the WUPJ's headquarters, and incorporated the lovely nearby HUC-JIR campus on to the itinerary.
Beit Shmuel operators are optimistic that eastern Jerusalem will soon return to being a major part of many organized walking tours through the city.
The Anita Saltz International Education Center cordially invites you to attend the Roswell Social Justice Seminar, from January 8 to January 15, 2015.
An intensive program run in cooperation with the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), the seminar will explore issues of religion and state in Israel, as well as socioeconomic issues, engaging participants in social action projects.
The Roswell Social Justice Seminar will first delve into the basis of the Jewish concern for a just society and then walk through the streets of Israel in an attempt to turn that vision into a reality.
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January 8-15, 2015 - The Roswell Seminar for Social Justice, Israel
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 2015 - Netzer Veida Olamit, 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