Issue #500

Issue #500 – 06 November 2014 / 13 Heshvan 5775

CONNECTING to Latin America:
Dateline: New York City
Community Spotlight: South Africa
Live from Israel:
Dear Reader

Upcoming Events

WUPJ-FSU Conference Spotlights Movement Strength in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus

For the first time in four years, the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) convened a regional conference that brought together Reform Jews from across the Former Soviet Union (FSU). Members of Progressive communities from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus had the opportunity to meet, talk, debate and connect over issues of common importance.

The WUPJ-FSU Conference took place between October 23 and October 26 outside of Minsk, Belarus. The gathering was especially pertinent in light of the unrest that has recently gripped the region. 

Four Years in the Making: Top (left to right): Rabbi Leonid Bimbat (Moscow), Alex Kagan (Director of FSU), Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny (Kiev), Rabbi Sasha Lyskovoi (Moscow), Rabbi Grisha Abramovich (Minsk), Bottom (left to right): Rabbi Yulia Grise (Odessa), Rabbi Daniel Freelander (President, WUPJ), Rabbi Yelena Rubenstein (St. Petersburg), Rabbi Joel Oseran (VP-International Development).

WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander met with representatives from the different regions, as well as members of Netzer Olami. After hearing detailed updates about the regions and their programs, Rabbi Freelander outlined his vision for the future of the FSU Movement.

Rabbi Freelander noted that he was, "…honored to have participated in the first conference of our congregational and movement leaders in the FSU in over four years. The reality on the ground has changed, with our congregations becoming leading voices on the local Jewish scene.  I was inspired by these communities' pride and creativity."

Making Music in Minsk: View Rabbi Freelander's 
Participation in Shabbat Services  Now.

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. 
Thumbs Up! WUPJ-FSU Conference Participants Celebrate a Job Well Done.

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.

Honor Thy Father: Galina Levin Attends the Dedication of Beit Simcha's Library, Named in Memory of her Father, Leonid.

Following the Conference, everyone travelled to Beit Simcha in Minsk to take part, along with congregation members and honored guests, in a dedication ceremony for the congregational library in memory of Leonid Levin, former chair of the Jewish community in Belarus and member of the Reform congregation, who passed away recently. 

View the WUPJ-FSU Conference Photo Gallery and Read Testimonials Here.

Back to Featuring

Class Act: Incoming HUC-JIR Students in Jerusalem Excited about 5775/2015

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:

Sasha Kopp, Harriet Dunkerley, Isaama Stoll and Bailey Romano.

Prior to embarking on the path of Jewish leadership, what previous professional lives did you lead?

"Before heading on the path towards the rabbinate, I worked on my MA in Jewish Studies at the college where I studied American Jewish history with Dr. Gary P. Zola. In addition to my academic pursuits, I worked as a Religious School and Hebrew School teacher at Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati, where I primarily focused my attention on expanded experiential and program based learning and deepening 5th and 6th graders’ engagements with conversations about God and Jewish prayer."
- Bailey Romano, Rabbinical Student. 

What attracted you to HUC? "The school welcomes students from a diverse array of backgrounds. I have been raised Jewish my entire life and have aspired to the rabbinate since I was a little kid. Nonetheless, while my father was born Jewish, my mother did not convert to Judaism until I was eight. With my background, at many other Jewish institutions, my Judaism would be questioned or I would be asked to convert in order to enter into the rabbinate. At HUC, my Jewish identity is celebrated and legitimated as is." 
- Isaama Stoll, Rabbinical Student. Isaama will be receiving a Masters in Hebrew Letters as well as a rabbinic ordination. 

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."
Sasha Kopp, Studying Towards a Dual Degree in Jewish Educational Leadership and Nonprofit Management.

Which elements of the upcoming academic are you most excited about? 
"I am thrilled to be deepening my musical knowledge and improving my musicianship. It is challenging for me as I come from a performance background and I lack this strong foundation. I am also in love with Hebrew and feel so blessed to be here studying the language of our people. Finally, learning the art of Cantillation of the Torah and Haftorah along with Weekday and Shabbat Nusach is tantamount to being given a key to a treasure vault for me!"
- Harriet Dunkerley, First Year Cantorial Student at HUC-JIR's Debbie Freidman School of Sacred Music.

Back to Featuring

Young, Jewish and Progressive: Krakow Seminar Attracts Europe's Best and Brightest Minds

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.  

In the Shadows of Auschwitz: Jewish Journeys Participants Mourn…and Learn.

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.

Brain Trust: European Jewry's Best and Brightest Young Minds.

Program highlights included:

Every Day Yiddish – by Bary Smerin.
The Jewish Heritage of Galicia – by Professor Edyta Gawron.
Managing Israel's Economy Between Wars – by Matan Hodorov, Channel 10, Israel.
Progressive Judaism in Poland – by Rabbi Tanya Segal.
70 Years Since the Establishment of Tnuat Hameri – by Maoz Haviv, TaMaR Executive Director.
What Really Happened During the Last War in Gaza:  – by Maoz Haviv.
Jewish Reform Movement Prewar History in Poland – by Hartmut Bomhoff.

Jewish Journeys 2014 would not have been possible without the talents and dedication of Rotem Mal'ach, the TaMaR and World Zionist Organization (WZO) Shaliach to Germany and the support of Rabbi Tania Segal, the Krakow Progressive community's spiritual leader.

CONNECTING to Latin America

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.

We'll Save a Seat For You: The ARI Congregation, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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.

Among the highlights of this most busy and productive of weeks:

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.

Grande Templo Israelita, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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.

Full House: The ARI Congregation During the Recent High Holidays.

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.

In the Ghetto: Talking Tikun Olam at a Local Favela.

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.

Simcha, Soul and Solidarity at the Sofitel Hotel: The official hotel of CONNECTIONS 2015, Sofitel is located right on the legendary Copacabana Beach. An amazing setting to learn, study, pray, sing and get to know one another! 

Jewish Tradition, Latin Rhythms: Havdallah at Copacabana Beach.

See you at CONNECTIONS 2015 in Rio!

Dateline: New York City

Reform Movement Confronts Global Anti-Semitism at New York Forum

On November 2, The North American Advisory Board (NAAB) of the WUPJ sponsored a Forum on Global Anti-Semitism that was held at Temple Israel of the City of New York. The evening time gathering was the kickoff event of a two-day meeting of the newly organized NAAB that was open to the public.

WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander moderated a probing discussion of anti-Semitism as the phenomenon manifests itself in Europe, the Former Soviet Union (FSU) and Latin America. European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) Chairman Miriam Kramer then explored the issue with a presentation that analyzed Jew hatred as experienced within certain European nations. 

WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander, Ben Cohen Expert on Anti-Semitism, and Chief Progressive Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine Alexander Dukhovny.

Chief Progressive Rabbi of Kiev and Ukraine Alexander Dukhovny captivated the large crowd with his experiences in Ukraine during the recent political turmoil in the region, including the annexation of Crimea. Rabbi Dukhovny also spoke about the current situation for Jews living in Russia and Belarus.  

Senior Rabbi of Temple Israel David Gelfand, a frequent traveler to Latin America, shared his first hand experiences with anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the region. Rabbi Gelfand noted that such prejudices manifest themselves politically and are often tied to a broader anti-American sentiment.

Opening and closing the event, Ben Cohen, noted expert on anti-Semitism and well-known writer, shared his latest research on modern strains of anti-Semitism and how they might be countered. 

Community Spotlight: South Africa

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:

Dancing with Torah: Simchat Torah at the Green Point Synagogue, Cape Town

"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.

Shake that Lulav: Newly Ordained Rabbi Julia Margolis Explains the Sukkot symbols at Temple Israel Hillbrow, Johannesburg.

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.

Tashlich Service with a View: Temple Israel, Cape Town.

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."

70 Years Young: Temple Israel Cape Town Sings, Dances, and Reminisces 

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. 

So Much to Sing About: Temple Israel Cape Town Celebrates 70 Years in Grand Style!

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! 

Back to Featuring

Live from Israel 

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.

Red Alert: Israelis Hiding Inside a Bomb Shelter During Operation Protective Edge.

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.

Remembering the South: JAFI President Natan Sharansky and IDF GOC Southern Command Major General Shlomo (Sami) Turgeman at the BOG Meeting in Ashkelon.

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."

Back to Featuring

Walking Jerusalem: Despite Tensions, Beit Shmuel Conducts Tours All Over City

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.

Step into Sukkot: Beit Shmuel Taking Visitors to Jerusalem on Walking Tours.

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.

Back to Featuring

Tikun Olam is Only a Seminar Away…Let’s Get Busy!

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.

Fight Discrimination: The Roswell Social Justice Seminar Will Show You How.

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. 

For more information contact Rabbi Steve Burnstein

Back to Featuring

Job Hunting? Netzer Wants you!
Are you is looking for meaningful work in the field of education that is guided by the Reform Movement's values?

Job description:

1.     Coordinate Netzer Olami (Zionist Youth Movement) activities.
2.      Development and delivery of educational content.
3.      Work with a team of young leaders.
4.      Work is entirely in English.
5.      Work is based in Jerusalem.
6.      Suitable for students.
7.      This is a full-time position.
8.      Estimated start date: November 2014.

Interested or know someone who may be? Please send a resume 

Back to Featuring

Dear Reader

Stay current with newsletters from our regions. Click here for more details.

What do you think about our newsletter? 
Please click here to send your comments or suggestions.

Back to Featuring

Upcoming Events

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

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

Back To Featuring

Recent Issues