26 February 2015 / 7 Adar 5775
- Cracking the Code: WUPJ Webinar Makes Sense out of Upcoming Israeli Elections
- Why Vote ARZA? This One Minute Will Explain it All…
- Mother Earth on Sabbatical: IMPJ Community Teaches Children about the Environment
- Sample a Most Extraordinary Life: HUC-JIR's Jerusalem Campus to Conduct Open House
- For Art's Sake: Beit Shmuel Brings 'Good Tidings' in New Exhibit
- Jewish Agency Board of Governors Gathers in Jerusalem to Discuss Anti-Semitism, Jewish Life, Aliyah
Notable attendees included Rabbi Daniel Freelander, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. ForRabbi Freelander, participating in NFTY's 75 birthday brought back many memories: "Forty years ago, as a young NFTY youth advisor, Jeff Klepper and I wrote a melody to the text of Shalom Rav. We hoped our campers and youth group members would enjoy singing it during services and song sessions. Never did we imagine that within a generation it would become a ‘traditional’ melody, sung worldwide.
That is the power of NFTY and Netzer. Young people experiment and re-express Jewish values in their own language and melodies. And if they are successful, their friends and students are transformed by the power of the music, the Jewish learning and community. NFTY and Netzer provide Jewish memories that last a lifetime.
Over 1000 NFTYites, 15 former NFTY presidents and 250 Youth professionals gathered in in Atlanta, Georgia to celebrate NFTY’s 75th anniversary. And Jeff and I were there, honored to sing with the winner of the 2015 NFTY Song Competition, and to lead the crowd in a moving rendition of Shalom Rav. I am grateful to remember and salute the youth movement that allowed us to create and nurture this melody. Happy 75th Birthday, NFTY."
The NFTY Convention enabled Anna Posner, an Etgar Councilor for the Netzer Olami Youth Movement in Israel, to "be surrounded by so many young, engaged and enthusiastic Progressive Jews. The energy created on convention was amazing. It was great to be welcomed in as the representative from Netzer Olami and see how keen many of the members of NFTY are to find more ways to connect with our international network of Progressive youth movements."
At the recent meeting of the World Zionist Organization's (WZO) Va'ad HaPoel (General Council), a joint faction that included the ARZENU International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists passed several important resolutions. Two of these will bring the WZO Settlements Division under closer scrutiny.
This is a major victory for the Progressive movement.
(image courtesy of WZO.org.il).
The Settlement Division has come under public scrutiny in the past, most notably in the Sasson Report regarding unauthorized outposts in the West Bank. In the last several months, investigations by the press and in the Knesset have revealed that hundreds of millions of shekels were channeled through the Division annually, mostly for settlement activities in the West Bank.
In light of these factors, the Meretz faction drafted two resolutions to present to the WZO Va'ad HaPoel, which were amended by ARZENU and supported by Labour representatives, calling upon the WZO to:
- Set up a "special internal auditor within the WZO who will examine the conduct of the Settlement Division."
- Ensure "complete transparency in relation to all the Settlement Division's activities and their financial costs."
- “Restore the authority and complete control over the Settlement Division to the WZO."
- Make information on the Settlement Division available in a timely fashion to leaders of all Knesset factions.
- Implement all these actions within three months.
According to Dalya Levy, Executive Director of ARZENU, "We must now ensure that the terms of the resolution are carried out. We call upon all our Progressive constituents and allies to keep the issue alive. With your help, we can be cautiously optimistic."
Between February 5 and 15, The Anita Saltz International Education Center conducted its thirteenth Beutel Seminar, a prestigious ten-day educational program in Jerusalem that offers the opportunity to study ancient texts and history; discuss current political and social issues; explore spiritual pathways and concepts of Jewish leadership - all within a Progressive Jewish context. .
Rabbi Steve Burnstein, Director of the Anita Saltz International Education Center, files this report:
"Participants in this year’s Beutel Seminar joined us from Spain, Italy, France, Canada, Hungary, Poland, Australia, Costa Rica, Germany, Israel and the United States for 10 days of workshops, site visits, discussions, and networking with Reform Jewish leaders from around the world.
These experiences were supplemented by encounters with educators, activists, and leaders from the Israel Reform Movement. We learned much from Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Sally Klein-Katz, Kehilat Kol Haneshama, the IMPJ's Mechina program, Rabbi Benjie Gruber, Kibbutz Yahel and Kibbutz Lotan.
It was a wonderful bonus that Austin Beutel joined this year’s seminar. Austin was pleased to see the program attracting such talented leaders from across the globe.
We extend our special appreciation to Austin and Nani Beutel for their dedication to the leadership of our movement."
From February 15 to February 17, ARZENU met in Israel to address many of the most pertinent issues in the Progressive Zionist world. In addition, participants had the opportunity to visit innovative Progressive communities around the country. Below, is a summary of ARZENU Chair Rabbi Larry Englander's full report.
"Our first activity was a visit to a detention centre in Holot, in the Negev. This facility holds over 2,000 men who escaped the slaughter in Darfur and traversed hostile countries to arrive at the border between Egypt and Israel.
To date, Israel has declined to grant refugee status to them, which means that they cannot receive a work permit. We heard from a few young men how they slept in a park in Tel Aviv, finding the odd menial job, until they were rounded up by the Israeli police and taken to Holot.
Israel offers each of them US $3500 as a stipend to return to their country of origin and to their families. However, the men know that they would face arrest -- and perhaps death -- if they set foot in Sudan. This places the State of Israel in a quandary.
Next, we witnessed the same phenomenon in Gedera, where Rabbi Miri Hovav serves a fledgling congregation of young families who conduct creative Shabbat services and engage in acts of Tikkun Olam in their community.
After our own meetings were concluded, we attended the sessions of the World Zionist Organization, where Arzenu represents the worldwide Reform movements. We discussed resolutions that challenged us to chart the future for Zionism both within Israel and abroad."
Cracking the Code: WUPJ Webinar Makes Sense out of Upcoming Israeli Elections
On February 18, The WUPJ's Anita Saltz International Education Center broadcast the premier webinar in its series, 'Dateline Everywhere: Getting Briefed on the Latest News from the Progressive Jewish World.' This first presentation, 'The Politics of Contradiction,' featured Professor Paul Liptz guiding viewers through the byzantine Israeli electoral system.
The next 'Dateline Everywhere' webinar is titled 'Straight Talk Express: New WUPJ President Rabbi Daniel Freelander's Innovative Plan for Progressive Jewry.' Rabbi Freelander will discuss a wide range of hot button issues affecting the Progressive Jewish World.
Stay tuned for more information about this exciting new webinar!
Beginning this past January, elections have been taking place at the World Zionist Organization to decide which organizations will represent Zionism at this international institution. Ballots close at the end of April.
You are invited to watch a message by Rabbi Gilad Kariv, IMPJ Executive Director, on why it's important to make your voice heard by taking part in this Zionist democratic process.
The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) is using the Sabbatical Year as an educational opportunity. In light of this year being a Shnat Shmita, the children at Gan Zait of Modi'in's Kehillat Yozma community learned all about environmental sustainability and ecology by making recycled paper.
The children separated trash into recyclable and non-recyclable items, and experimented with the Gan’s compost. The result was the creation of three A4 sheets, all made out of recycled materials.
During Shmita, the land is left to lie fallow and all agricultural activity, including plowing, planting, pruning and harvesting, is forbidden by halakha.
On March 26, Jerusalem's Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) will be opening its doors to prospective students. Participants will have the opportunity to meet current students and study with HUC-JIR's exceptional faculty.
Jewish leaders from around the world, members of the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency for Israel, convened in Jerusalem from February 22 to February 24 to discuss the most pressing issues affecting the Jewish world, including rising anti-Semitism in Europe and increasing Aliyah from France and Ukraine.
Progressive Jewish leaders from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia and Israel attended the three-day gathering. ARZENU, the umbrella organization of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists, ably represented the interests of the movement in Israel.
Participants also heard from Damian Pachter, the Argentine journalist who reported on the mysterious death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman last month in Buenos Aires.
A Monumental Bat Mitvah at Sim Shalom Progressive Jewish Congregation, Budapest
Sim Shalom is led by Rabbi Katalin Kelemen, Hungary's first and only female rabbi.
On the second Shabbat of January, a very special event took place at Sim Shalom: the double Bat Mitzvah of the Miklos twins, Lili and Hajni. The twin milestones' wider importance was that they marked the first B'nai Mitzvah where the life cycle of an entire family took place within the congregation's walls.
Parents Ili and Gabor met at Sim Shalom about 15 years ago. Their two girls were raised in Budapest after the family had returned from the United States, educated in the Sim Shalom Talmud Torah, trained by Rabbi Kelemen for their ceremony, and - of course - the Bat Mitzvah ceremonies took place inside Sim Shalom's Synagogue.
The twin daughters delivered two very thoughtful drashot. Along with younger sister Vera reading the portions in Hungarian and parents Ili and Gabor speaking about their journey from the United States to Hungary, this was indeed a family affair.
In addition, Lili and Hajni's ceremonies were watershed events for yet another reason: the two girls were twinned with two Bar Mitzvah boys from the West London Synagogue, marking a new relationship between the two congregations.
The CCAR, established in 1889, represents approximately 2,000 rabbis and the 1.5 million Jews they serve.
Leo Baeck College Rabbinical Student Channels Progressive Jewish Values to Fight on Behalf of Society's Most Vulnerable
WUPJ-affiliated Leo Baeck College is a pre-eminent institution of Jewish scholarship and learning that is open to all. Leo Baeck College combines inspirational, high calibre teaching with a commitment to enriching the intellectual and spiritual lives of the Progressive Jewish Community. Below, third year rabbinical student Naomi Goldman explains her dramatic transformation into a social justice advocate.
"It was the day after National Holocaust Memorial Day and many of us were still feeling shaken by the recent murder of Jews in Paris, only three hours from London by train.
So some might have thought it counter-intuitive that more than 60 rabbis and cantors gathered at the House of Commons, not to discuss anti-Semitism, but to launch a new cross-communal organisation, called Tzelem: The Rabbinic Call for Social and Economic Justice in the UK.
I am in the middle of my third year of rabbinic studies at Leo Baeck College, exactly half-way through my training. It seems an appropriate time to take stock and think about what I really want to achieve in the future as a British Progressive Rabbi.
It is time I think, to bring the two traditions together; to use our Progressive Jewish voice to campaign in the secular world for the vulnerable and the socially marginalized.
As Heschel once said: in a free society, some are guilty, all are responsible."
Why was Abraham chosen? Why did God laugh? When did God cry? Just how heavy were the Ten Commandments? The Torah is written in such a spare style that it leaves us with many questions unanswered. Midrash aims to flesh out what is in the Torah. It is where Jews find spirituality within theology.
The Leo Baeck College Lehrhaus 2015 is pleased to present four sessions that will explore the fascinating world of Midrash with Rabbi Colin Eimer.
'Why Did God Laugh?' Will take place Tuesday evenings, March 3-March 24, 19:45-21:15.
You may register by phone by calling +44 (0)20 8349 5600.
The meeting took place at Beit Shmuel-Mercaz Shimshon, the World Union for Progressive Judaism's headquarters.
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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
October 7-22, 2015 - Israel - Poland Mission, Israel & Poland
November 4–8, 2015 – Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) 73rd Biennial Conference, Orlando, Florida
April 15-17, 2016 - European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ), Biennial Conference, London, UK
May 27-28, 2016 - Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) Conference, Israel