17 March 2015 / 28 Nisan 5775
The World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) rejoiced in the blessings of freedom by celebrating the rebirth and growth of Progressive Judaism around the world.
In South Africa, the Bet David Progressive Jewish congregation in Sandton, Johannesburg attracted over 100 members and guests. Rabbi Adrian Schell and Rabbi Julia Margolis were delighted to have been joined by such a large, enthusiastic audience for the Festival Evening and Shabbat service. Most of the attendees even stayed on for the Family Seder!
Arthur Lenk, Israeli Ambassador to South Africa, was the guest of honor and opened the Seder by remembering the strong connection of the festival with the Land of Israel, not only in the past, but also today, and how important it is to maintain such connections.
In her sermon, Rabbi Margolis pointed out the important role of women in the Exodus narrative, while Rabbi Schell focused on the personal responsibility everyone has to protect the freedom Jews enjoy today and to take part in the process of expanding this freedom to every human being.
In Israel, hundreds of people participated in this year’s Pesach siyurim (educational tours) held by Mercaz Shimshon-Beit Shmuel, the worldwide headquarters of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
The program included walking tours aimed at adults and families with children, and offered a broad range of topics related to Pesach and Jerusalem, reflecting the city's history, traditions and architecture.
On April 11, the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) hosted its first ever Mimouna celebration. Mimouna is one of five national holidays created after the founding of Israel in 1948. This traditional Moroccan Jewish celebration marks the return to eating chametz after nightfall, on the last day of Passover.
Originally, the Mimouna was a holiday that marked the good relations between the Jews and their Muslim neighbors in Morocco. At the end of the Passover holiday, the Jews would welcome all visitors back into their homes and their Muslim neighbors would bring presents and flour to prepare moflettas.
IRAC organized Mimouna festivities in Jerusalem and Jaffa, where Jews and Arabs were able to join in eating moflettas together.
Over many centuries, the Passover Seder has become the seminal family experience in Jewish tradition. Throughout the generations we, as a family, have told and retold the narrative of leaving Egypt. For the WUPJ, Pessach 5775 was filled with many moments of joy, along with powerful reflections on the true meaning of freedom and the collective responsibility that comes with its blessing.
The Seders and Passover-related activities were a big success because of a hardworking staff and dedicated volunteers who prepared the traditional dishes and brought a festive spirit to all our holiday tables.
Joining our kehilot for the 12th straight year were Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) students from the Jerusalem campus. The WUPJ-HUC Pesach Project for this year was comprised of a group of 10, led by Leah Sternberg. Project participants travelled to congregations in Belarus, Russia and Crimea.
The words of the new edition of the Pesach Haggadah that speak of freedom had a special meaning and were most inspiring this year. This Haggadah was donated by Henry Posner III in honor of his wife Anne Molloy and published by Abraham Geiger College. In total, the Haggadah was distributed to nearly all of our FSU communities
(80 people) took place at the Moscow Center for Progressive Judaism.
Belarus: Over 1,500 People in 10 Cities Attend Sedarim
There's so much more! Read the complete FSU Passover Report here.
Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ)
organized a one-of-kind service at Jaffa Port
Progressive Beats: CONNECTIONS 2015 Will Show How to Incorporate Music into Communal Life
Indeed, the spiritual leader of the German-Jewish congregation, Rabbi Dr. Henrique Lemle, came to Rio de Janeiro during World War II and founded the ARI.
Rabbi Dr. Lemle was actually rescued from the Buchenwald concentration camp by Lady Lilly Montagu, president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, and came to Brazil through London.
The WUPJ's CONNECTIONS 2015 international convention, taking place May 13-16 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will celebrate this historic bond between the World Union and Latin American Jewry with well-known musical performers and energetic performances.
Hosted by the ARI community, CONNECTIONS 2015 will highlight the Latin American Jewish music that can provide an inspirational path to fusing melody with services and activities.
On March 22, Rabbi Daniel Freelander, President of WUPJ, attended the highly successful annual General Assembly of the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ), convened at Geneva's liberal Jewish congregation (GIL).
Dr Jeremy Schonfield from London's Leo Baeck College led the study sessions, along with Professor Admiel Kosman from Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam.
Moreover, a discussion on whether Jews are safe in Europe was led by Maître Alain Bruno Levy, President of CICAD, a Swiss-based non-profit organization whose mission is to combat anti-Semitism.
Similar to the General Assembly, the Rabbinic Kallah was hosted by GIL's Rabbi Garai and President Dembitz.
The aim of the Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowships is to nurture and inspire young leaders from North America, Israel, and Central and Eastern Europe as they continue to serve their camps and home communities as active change agents who are committed to global Progressive Judaism, Jewish peoplehood, and Israel.
The fellowship includes educational webinars throughout the year as well as three week-long in-person gatherings. The first seminar, in Israel, took place at the end of December, and the third seminar in the United States will take place this coming fall.
The fellows gathered in Budapest for an enriching week of reconnecting, learning, meeting with local leaders, and getting to know Budapest through its Jewish community and stories. Some highlights included:
- Sessions with Sarah Mali, Director of the Global Leadership Project at the Jewish Agency for Israel, about the importance of diversity in developing the characteristics of leadership.
- Discovering Hungary’s Jews in the streets of Budapest with Zsolt Csepregi, coordinator of the Herzl Center at the Israeli Cultural Institute, via visits to the Dohany Synagogue and other local Jewish landmarks.
- Discussion with Rabbi Daniel Freelander, President of the WUPJ, about the opportunities and challenges facing the World Union.
- Inspiring conversations with local leaders such as Zsuzsa Fritz, Director of the Balint Haz, and Sasha Friedman, Director of Szarvas Camp.
- Visit to the Holocaust Shoe Memorial on the banks of the Danube River, followed by a fellow-led memorial service.
- Spending time with Budapest’s two Progressive congregations, Bet Orim and Sim Shalom, for Kabbalat Shabbat and Havdallah, respectively.
The WUPJ would like to take this opportunity to thank Rabbi Steve Burnstein, Director of the Anita Saltz International Education Center, who has been intimately involved with every aspect of the fellowship, from conception to implementation.
For more information about the Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowships, please feel free to contact Rachael Brill, Roswell Project Manager at the URJ.
Pesach Project: Jerusalem's HUC-JIR Collaborates with WUPJ on Service Trip to FSU
For the 12th straight year, World Union staff in Jerusalem, Moscow, Kiev and Minsk coordinated visits by Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) rabbinic, cantorial and education students to Jewish communities that were once under the realm of Soviet oppression.
With the help of a translator, Pessach Project participants experienced the breadth and scope of one country and its culture for the first time. As they made their way through Belarus, Russia, and Crimea, students had the opportunity to both impact and learn from these revitalized Jewish communities.
While experiencing Jewish life and Jewish peoplehood in the Former Soviet Union, Pesach Project participants also had the opportunity to lead Sederim and educational programs.
As future leaders of Progressive Judaism, it is HUC-JIR students' responsibility to understand the Progressive Jewish world outside of their own communities.
Recently, the Jewish News, Britain's biggest Jewish newspaper, in association with the Jewish Leadership Council, announced positions 25 to 11 in its list of 25 young movers and shakers under the age of 25 who are set to define Anglo-Jewry in the decades to come.
WZO Elections: You Don't Have to be Israeli to Influence Israel's Policy Decisions
Diaspora Jews can vote on Israel's future. The World Zionist Congress (WZO) elections let Jews worldwide influence Israeli policy decisions. The WZO Congress meets every five years to discuss issues of importance to Jews around the world, including Jewish identity, anti-Semitism, peace and Israel's future.
As such, the WZO is the mechanism for Jewish participation in Israeli policy decisions. Eligible voters are Jews over the age of 18 who believe that the Jewish state is a place with which every Jew in the world is entitled to engage.
Now more than ever, many Diaspora Jews feel that lobbying Congress or donating to an organization simply isn't enough to address several serious challenges to the democratic character of Israel.
Voting in the WZO elections is an opportunity for American Jews to help elect the party that best epitomizes the Zionism they support.
April 17 to May 25.
For several years, Anis has been a regular participant in drawing workshops held by the artist Sasha Okun, who had been her teacher at Emunah College and whose had a critical role in shaping Anis's artistic career.
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:
Long Time Progressive Jewish Activist Reeva Forman Nominated to be Honorary Life President of South African Zionist Federation
Reeva Forman, who was recently nominated for the position of Honorary Life President of the South African Zionist Federation. Forman's tremendous efforts within and on behalf of the South African Jewish community include a productive two decades tenure as chairperson of Temple Israel Hillbrow, the mother Synagogue of Progressive Judaism in South Africa.
Everyone affiliated with the World Union hopes that Reeva will long continue her work and only see increasing success in all her endeavours.