12 March 2015 / 21 Adar 5775
March 20 is Deadline to Register for CCAR/WUPJ Joint Solidarity Trip to Brussels and Paris
Breaking Out in Rio: CONNECTIONS 2015 Program to Explore Progressive Judaism's Hot Button Issues
Carnival, 5775: Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, New York, USA.
Jewish Freedom, The Puppet Show: Kiev's Hatikva congregation brings the Purim characters to life in a most delightful way.
L'Chaim from St. Petersburg: Congregation Shaarei Shalom knows how to party!
There is little more than a week to sign up for a highly anticipated mission to Europe, a compelling collaboration between the WUPJ and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR).
From April 19 to 24, the Solidarity Trip to Brussels and Paris will explore the impact of anti-Semitism on Western European Jewry and Progressive/Reform congregations.
On April 22, participants will, among many other scheduled stops, visit the mixed neighborhoods of Sarcelles and Creteil, the Parisian suburbs where Jews and Muslims live side by side and where anti-Israel and anti-Semitic protests occurred over the summer. The day's itinerary will also include a meeting with Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur, one of the few women Rabbis in Paris. Rabbi Horvilleur is the rabbi at MJLF, a Jewish liberal cultural and religious association affiliated with the European Union for ProgressiveJudaism.
On April 23, the mission will visit Hyper Cacher, the kosher supermarket recently attacked by terrorists.
During the Paris leg of the trip, participants will gain a comprehensive insight into the current state of French Jewry from Stéphane Beder, Vice Chairman of the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ). Local Progressive synagogue leaders and rabbis will meet group members over dinner at the ULIF Copernic Synagogue (Union Libérale Israélite de France).
The departure flight back to the United States will be on April 24.
This well planned trip will provide you with a thorough understanding of how the local Jewish communities are responding to the recent acts of terror.
Thirty-six members of the Netzer Olami and TaMaR youth movements attended the Klau Conference between February 20 and February 22 in Minsk, Belarus for a series of seminars aimed at young Jewish leaders.
held in Minsk, Belarus.
The program included an in depth analysis of the Reform movement's ideological framework, with a focus on ways to enhance cooperation among the various Reform communities as it pertains to youth outreach.
An additional goal of the conference was to continue the training of future Netzer and TaMaR madrichim to work in local clubs as well as the FSU Summer Camps program.
Netzer coordinators at the conference were Rita Fruman, FSU; Artur Raisky, Belarus, Masha Gutovskaya, Russia and Yuliya Orlova. Rabbi Gregory Abramovich and Rabbi Julia Gris assisted these young leaders.
One of the highlights of the conference was the choosing of a new rabbi to oversee Netzer and provide spiritual and practical advice to the group. This year, Rabbi Julia Gris was selected for this important role. Netzer is positive that Rabbi Gris will inject a variety of new ideas and promote effective initiatives during her tenure.
United Hebrew Congregation Singapore Inducts First Ever Resident Rabbi
On February 27, the United Hebrew Congregation Singapore commemorated a momentous occasion with the induction of its first resident rabbi: Rabbi Nathan Alfred.
In January, Rabbi Alfred arrived in South East Asia from Brussels and is now formally recognized as spiritual leader of the UHC Singapore community.
200 UHC members came together to celebrate this significant event. Rabbi Lennard Thal, who has served the UHC as visiting rabbi for nearly 20 years, came all the way from New York to officially hand over the community to its new rabbi.
Both Rabbis Alfred and Thal spoke eloquently about the kehila in Singapore, and the significance of this greatly anticipated moment in the annals of UHC history.
Special guests also included Carole Sterling, WUPJ Senior Vice Chair and Miriam Kramer, European Union for Progressive Judaism Chair as well as Alexander Dembitz, President of Geneva’s Liberal Congregation (and whose son is a UHC member).
The induction of Rabbi Alfred was a proud moment for the UHC, especially for all those members whose generosity over the past several years has ensured that this momentous day arrived.
The UHC is a vibrant community of 140 families, which for 22 years was primarily led by Rabbi Lennard Thal as its visiting rabbi. As a growing community, and with the retirement of Rabbi Thal, UHC recognized that there was a need for a resident Rabbi.
Therefore, the search began and was concluded with the appointment of Rabbi Nathan Alfred. Since January, he has brought great momentum to the community, meeting all members, preparing for life cycle events, initiating more prayer services and community events, and overseeing the opening of a weekly UHC religious school that is already being attended by 50 students.
In Rabbi Nathan Alfred’s words: “I am delighted to have begun my work in Singapore with such a vibrant community, and hope to serve as a pioneer for Progressive Judaism across South East Asia.”
Netzer South Africa Youth Group Joins Forces with Local Progressive Communities to Clean Up Jewish Cemetery
Netzer South Africa recently organized, in collaboration with the Bet David, Sandton and Beit Emanuel, Johannesburg Progressive synagogues, a cemetery clean up at Johannesburg’s Jewish Westpark Cemetery.
The initiative was inspired by the central idea of Terumah Torah portion: an offering that comes from the heart both creates and sustains a Jewish community's infrastructure.
Held on February 22, this marks the first Netzer South Africa Mitzvah Day. “The idea behind the day is to connect the learning of mitzvot with concrete action”, explained Rabbi Adrian Michael Schell of the Bet David community. “We wanted to be an example of giving that doesn’t require a lot of money or materials. Time is one of the most precious things we can offer: we can change more in this world than many of us can imagine.”
Steven Adler, President of the Chevrah Kadisha, who welcomed the group at the cemetery, thanked Netzer and all the participants for developing this wonderful idea and implementing it.
At the Wall of Remembrance, Simon Hochschild gave a short introduction about the cemetery, before the assembled youth learned more about the origin of mitzvot and the idea of Tikkun Olam.
As part of the day's program, all participants cleaned the memorial plaques and the area around of the Wall of Remembrance.
Rabbi Margolis of Bet David, Rabbi Shaked of Beit Emanuel and Rabbi Schell were visibly moved by the engagement of the Netzer Madrichim and the rest of the group.
The contribution the youth movement is making to the Jewish community in Johannesburg inspired one and all.
Battling Racism is Children's Play: Tel Aviv's Daniel Centers to Premier Exhibit Promoting Tolerance, Openness and Mutual Respect
Daniel Centers representatives are confident that "Different Together" will ultimately evolve into an annual event. There are already plans in development to enhance the displays of art with a variety of educational programs.
This Daniel Centers initiative was made possible by the cooperation and support of the Tel Aviv municipality, which among other things will be advertising the upcoming "Different Together" premier on fifty bus stations around the city.
A Matter of Conscience: Reform Judaism's Flagship Social Justice Event Set to Convene in April
This event is tailored to anyone with a passion for Jewish values and social justice. Activists, social action chairs, agitators for tikkun olam, rabbis, and cantors are invited to hear about the most critical issues of our time.
Topics to be covered at the Consultation will include economic justice and poverty issues, LGBT rights, environmental and sustainability issues, reproductive choice, immigration, health care, Israel, church-state and first amendment issues.
A wide range of elected officials as well as advocacy and activist leaders, journalists, diplomats, and other community leaders will be speaking at this year's Consultation on Conscience.
Changing of the Guard: Jerry Tanenbaum to Step Down as Yad B'Yad Chair, Rabbi Roberto Graetz to Become Next Task Force Leader
All of us connected with the World Union for Progressive Judaism in 50 countries and 1200 communities around the world join in joyful songs of praise for:
Jerry Tanenbaum, Chairman of the WUPJ"s Yad B'Yad Task Force, will step down in May at the WUPJ’s CONNECTIONS 2015 conference. Rabbi Roberto Graetz, a native of Argentina and the rabbi of Temple Isaiah of Lafayette, California will become the new Chairman of Yad B’Yad.
A decade ago, there were just a few Progressive / Reform congregations in Latin America. Today, there are so many more. This growth has occurred as a result of the tenacity of the WUPJ's leadership in the region, as well as the dedication of a North America-based WUPJ support team, Yad B’Yad (Hand -in-Hand) that was created by Steve and Sandy z”l Breslauer and Jerry and Pat z”l Tanenbaum.
During the Tanenbaum era, Yad B’Yad has facilitated the flowering of the Latin American community through missions, fundraising and strategic planning.
With the help of Yad B’Yad, the WUPJ-Latin America region has been able to send emerging leaders to the Saltz Center in Jerusalem for training.
In addition, Yad B'Yad has provided the means for cantors to establish the La Shir B’Nefesh cantorial chorale, which travels throughout Latin America, performing Judaic music.
Other highlights of Jerry Tanenbaum's tenure include the beginning of the translation of the Plaut Torah Commentary into Portuguese; the hiring a full-time executive director and working with Fundacion Judaica in Argentina to expand the WUPJ's impact in the community.
Jerry Tanenbaum has chaired Yad B’Yad since its inception, and has supported, sustained and led the task force with verve and dynamism. Jerry Tanenbaum, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, also served as the Chair of the North American Board of the World Union.
He will be honored for his leadership and vision at a festive program on May 14. At that time, the Yad B’Yad Fund will officially be changed to the Jerry and Pat (z”l) Tanenbaum Yad B’Yad Fund for Latin America.
The celebration will include tributes from long-time friends and associates, musical performances by Latin American performers and by Jerry’s grandson, a noted musician.
Rabbi Roberto Graetz.
Regarding Rabbi Graetz, he served as rabbi in Bueno Aires and Rio de Janeiro and was the WUPJ’s first Director for Latin America, prior to arriving at Temple Isaiah 1991.
As one who is intimately involved in Progressive Jewish life in Latin America, Rabbi Graetz is uniquely positioned to take the reins of Yad B’Yad and lead it to an even greater impact in the region.
The World Union and its leadership expresses profound gratitude for the selfless work of Jerry Tanenbaum and sends hearty congratulations to Rabbi Roberto Graetz.
We know that our Latin American congregations will benefit and prosper from the continued contributions of Yad B’Yad.
Rabbi Walter Homolka, rector of the WUPJ-affiliated Abraham Geiger College for the training of rabbis and a professor of Jewish Studies at Potsdam University in Germany, who was honored by Joachim Gauck, President of the Federal Republic of Germany, with the Officers Cross of the Federal Merit Order.
Man of the Hour: Rabbi Walter Homolka receives prestigious award from Prime Minister of the State of Brandenburg Dr.
It's worth noting that the conferral of this honor upon Rabbi Homolka had been successfully blocked by the Central Council of Jews in Germany for 14 consecutive years.
"Overcoming this veto means that Progressive Judaism is now perceived as an independent entity. We now have a marker of where we are in German society: the power of the Central Council to stop us or make things difficult for us has been diminished," Rabbi Homolka stated.
Woidke thanked Rabbi Homolka for the establishment of the Abraham Geiger College in 1999, the first rabbinical school in continental Europe after the Holocaust.
Homolka’ s initiative also led to the founding in 2013 of the School of Jewish Theology of the University of Potsdam. Rabbi Homolka is professor of Modern Jewish Thought at this Jewish Divinity School.
Rabbi Richard Hirsch, Honoray Life President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, noted that "Our world movement has for many years now recognized Rabbi Homolka for his countless creative initiatives in revivifying German Jewry. It is good to see that the government considers his work to be of such merit that it enhances German society as a whole. To honor Rabbi Homolka is also to honor our movement and the role of the larger Jewish community in a new Germany."
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.
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
July 15-17, 2016 - SAUPJ 2016 Biennial Conference, South Africa