Issue #516

June 18, 2015 // 1 Tammuz 5775


Spain's Progressive Movement at the Crossroads: Fact-Finding Mission Develops Plan for Communities' Future

Profile in Leadership: Meet Carole Sterling, WUPJ's New Chair

A Star is Born: FSU Integrative Camp Held from June 2-8 in Moscow

Live from Israel
News Bits
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Spain's Progressive Movement at the Crossroads: Fact-Finding Mission Develops Plan for Communities' Future

Over Shabbat Naso at the end of May, European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) rabbis and lay leaders visited the six Spanish communities that are members of the EUPJ with the aim of assessing the current state of the movement in Spain, identifying and developing future growth areas.

Delegates of each community and the EUPJ leadership met in Madrid for Havdalah and an orientation to the issues confronting our movement in Spain. Then, after Shacharit the following day, a second meeting was convened to discuss ways of creating a mechanism for increased communication and co-operation among the Spanish communities.  
Focus on Growth: Members of the six Spanish Progressive
communities meet with EUPJ representatives.

Currently, the movement's presence in the country is comprised of two communities in Barcelona, one in Rota, one in Oviedo, one in Galicia and an emerging Havurah in Madrid.

The two locations that have been identified as key to  the movement’s growth  in Spain are Madrid and Barcelona, mainly because of size and potential. 

For Madrid, a critical factor for the development of this community will be the transformation of the Havurah into a viable congregation.

The Havurah is working closely with congregation Beit Shalom in Barcelona and that community's leader Jai Aguila

Spanish Sunrise: (left to right) Rabbis Ruven Bar-Ephraim,
Alona Lisitsa and Joel Oseran lead the Shacharit
service in Madrid.

Rabbi Joel Oseran, Vice President, International Development for the World Union for Progressive Judaism, works closely with the EUPJ leadership in Europe and has been integrally involved in the development of the Progressive movement in Spain. "The process of developing the Madrid Havurah will require a great deal of careful planning and involvement of the EUPJ," Rabbi Oseran noted.

Oviedo's Kehillat Emunah hosted Rabbi Oseran 
over the Shabbat, who had the opportunity to meet with several prominent city officials and learn about the variety of Jewish-themed events that have recently been held in the city, including a Jewish film series, Shoah commemoration, Jewish book fair and a public Chanukah lighting ceremony. 

Participants in the fact-finding mission to Spain came away with the conclusion that there is currently a gifted group of local leaders committed to Progressive Judaism. What remains to be done, according to Rabbi Oseran is to "find creative ways to integrate these independent communities into a unified movement that will make an impact on Spanish Jewry."

The meeting in Madrid was an important step towards establishing a Progressive movement identity in Spain. 

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Profile in Leadership: Meet Carole Sterling, WUPJ's New Chair

Formerly president of the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism (CCRJ) and Temple Sinai Congregation and a past chair of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Women’s Campaign, Carol Sterling is the first Canadian to head WUPJ in 20 years.

Born in Montreal and a resident of Toronto for the past several decades, Sterling was elected chair in mid-May during CONNECTIONS 2015, the 37th International Convention of the WUPJ.
Northern Exposure: Canada's Carole
Sterling is WUPJ's new chair.

In office but a few weeks, Sterling is quickly establishing herself as an energetic leader with many new ideas... She and Rabbi Daniel Freelander, WUPJ’s president, have established a presidents’ council that will allow WUPJ regional leaders to learn from one other, share opportunities and set standards for Progressive congregations around the world.

In Canada, Sterling says that the focus will be on creating greater awareness and encouraging financial support for other Progressive Jewish communities worldwide, as well as sharing best practices across congregations.

A significant portion of Sterling’s new role will involve visiting places where Progressive Jewish communities are just beginning to grow and fostering support for fledgling congregations.
Tikkun Olam, Rio Style: (corner right) Stephane Beder, Vice
of the EUPJ and Carole Sterling during WUPJ's
37th International Convention, CONNECTIONS 2015.

Further, Sterling says that she and Rabbi Freelander are in the process of trying to find rabbis fluent in the appropriate languages to serve Progressive synagogues in places such as Shanghai, Warsaw, Vienna and Rome.

WUPJ also works to help Progressive synagogues in a number of European countries get recognition from their national governments.

“In many of these countries, the governments like to speak to each religion through one mechanism, for instance [the] Catholic [Church]. It can’t function like that [with Jews]. With so many denominations [within Judaism] – Chabad, Orthodox, progressive – each needs to be recognized and able to share in government funding.”

Read the complete piece as it appears in the Canadian Jewish News.

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A Star is Born: FSU Integrative Camp Held from June 2-8 in Moscow

The "Shalom Star" integrative family camp took place outside of Moscow June 2-8. 130 people took part in this innovative educational program.

For years now, the beginning of June has marked the time when many Jewish organizations and foundations, the World Union included, unite to hold a family project integrating children with special needs into the Jewish community.
Fun, Sun and Torah: Shalom Star integrative family
camp, Moscow, June 2015.

Every year, the religious component of the program is led by WUPJ FSU's staff. 

This year, besides the usual socializing with friends, participants attended interesting classes with madrichim (counsellors). There were lectures for parents on Jewish history, tradition and literature. In addition, classes were conducted for children and those with special needs that included consultations with psychologists. 

Everyone enjoyed the joint trips, arts and crafts, songs, evening activities, theater and the traditional final night campfire.

While this year built on previous years' accomplishments, two events made 2015 unforgettable. 

First, Sasha L., a 17-year-old boy who faces multiple challenges (autism and other mental disabilities). Despite this, he is currently learning at school and plans to continue his studies at a college that has a program designed to meet his needs. 

At the camp, Sasha celebrated his Bar Mitzvah. This is the first time that such a ceremony was held. This moving event was witnessed by Sasha's mother, his family and all camp participants. 
Next Stop, Broadway: The Shalom Star talent show
wowed everyone in attendance! 

The second highlight of the 2015 "Shalom Star" program was the talent show held on the last night of the camp. This festive gathering included singing, poetry reading, a violin and string quartet performances. 

On the final day of "Shalom Star", parents and children viewed a photo exhibition that featured a summary of the camp's activities for 2015.

Valeriya Marek, Executive Director of the Russian Reform Movement, summed up the year, noting, "While we are proud, as we are every year, of what we were able to organize, we look forward to developing and improving the program in years to come. Integrating children with special needs into the wider society is both immensely rewarding and very challenging, requiring special skills and a lot of patience. Thanks to Sasha and other inspirational stories, everyone involved with the integration project is more dedicated than ever to the important work we have to do."

Get a glimpse of "Shalom Star" in action.

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World Union for Progressive Judaism Congratulates ARZA on WZO Election Victory 

The entire World Union family extends a hearty 'Mazal Tov!' to The Association of Reform Zionists of America (ARZA), which scored a massive victory in the World Zionist Congress election in the United States. ARZA secured 56 seats out of a possible 145, winning nearly 40 percent of the votes cast – more than the next two slates combined.

Rabbi Daniel Freelander, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, said of the election results: "The ARZA election victory should be seen for what it is: By a wide margin, the American Jewish community supports the Progressive agenda of ARZA and its partner organizations. American Jewry is not monolithic, and this election should serve as a wakeup call to those who claim there is only one way to be Jewish or to support Israel. The result gives us hope that the World Zionist Congress in October will be dominated by delegates who support an Israel that supports that celebrates pluralism, equality and peace.” 

The victory will clearly help Progressive Judaism, both inside Israel and throughout the Diaspora, to better meet the needs of the Jewish People in our communities.

The World Zionist Congress, the democratic body of the Jewish people worldwide, will meet in the fall of 2015 to determine the future course of the Zionist movement and its institutions.

Carole Sterling, Chair of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, noted, "The election results ensure that Israel will continue to grow, thrive and remain a Jewish and democratic state. During these crucial days, The Reform movement in the United States stepped up and made its voice heard. Working through the World Zionist Organization, we are confident that ARZA, as a part of ARZENU and together with the WUPJ, will have substantial influence over the great of issues of our time, including Jewish identity, anti-Semitism, and Israel's future."

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A Credit to our Movement: 2015 Queen's Birthday Honors Celebrates Dr. Phillip Bliss

On June 8, Dr. Phillip Bliss, Honorary Life Member of WUPJ's Exective Board, was recognized by his home country Australia as a distinguished citizen, due to his decades' long service to the Jewish community and on behalf of several multi-faith organizations.
Portrait of a Mensch: Mazal
Tov Dr. Phillip Bliss.

Every year, the Queen's Birthday Honors in Australia help define, encourage and reinforce national aspirations, ideals and standards by identifying role models. 

Dr. Bliss has served his community and country in a wide variety of rolls, including President of the Progressive Judaism in Victoria (PJV) from 2009-2012; Chairman, Council of Christians and Jews (Victoria) and President, Leo Baeck Centre for Progressive Judaism, to name just three.

In his work for the WUPJ, Dr. Bliss has served as Vice Chairman of the WUPJ since 2000; Honorary Secretary; Chairman, Social Justice and Advocacy Committee, since 2000; Member Management Committee and Executive Member, since 1995.

Upon receiving his Queens Honors Award, Dr. Bliss said, "As a little boy from the London suburb of Willesden emigrating to Australia reaching this point would have been the furthest thing from my mind. At this stage I am very proud to have achieved this recognition.”

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Chinese History Made in Rio: Kehillat Shanghai Receives First Torah Scroll at CONNECTIONS 2015

On May 13 2015, hundreds of Jews from all over the world gathered in Rio de Janeiro's largest and oldest synagogue, the Grande Templo Israelita.  They came to kick-off the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s CONNECTIONS 2015 biennial conference, and to witness the gifting of a Torah from one local community - Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI) - to another situated half way around the world – Kehillat Shanghai.

From Rio with Love: Kehillat Shanghai receives a very
special gift from the ARI congregation.

Kehillat Shanghai board member Jeanine Buzali witnessed this historic moment in her community's history: "As I stood on stage and heard the story and significance of KS’s new Torah, I realized that not only was this gift a perfect symbol of Jewish solidarity (kol Israel arevim ze ba ze) but that this Torah is also a profound legacy of Shanghai’s rich Jewish history. This Torah was taken to Rio from Germany via Shanghai by Chazan Joseph Aronsohn, who arrived in Rio’s budding Jewish community in 1949. In the seven decades that followed, ARI grew from a handful of immigrants to the thriving 900-family congregation that it is today."

Read Jeanine's complete essay about Kehillat Shanghai's historic day here.

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Mazal Tov, Manchester! UK Community Inducts New Rabbi

Over three hundred members, guests, civic dignitaries, Christian and Jewish community leaders and many rabbis packed Menorah Synagogue (Cheshire Reform Congregation) for the induction by Rabbi Sybil Sheridan of Menorah’s recently appointed Rabbi Fabian Sborovsky.
Leadership Guided by Torah: Fabian Sborovsky
is inducted as Menorah Synagogue's rabbi.

Menorah’s famous choir, led by Musical Director Ruti Worrall, sang Baruch Ha’ba, as Rabbi Fabian headed the solemn procession of rabbis entering the synagogue. 

Rabbi Fabian was formally welcomed into the European family of Progressive communities by Michael Reik, EUPJ Vice-Chair.

Rabbi Fabian, in his induction address, pointed out that the English tendency to speak constantly about the weather was indicative of a need and ability for people to connect. He quoted eruditely from Torah and Midrash and spoke of his vision for the future of Menorah Synagogue.

Everyone was moved when Rabbi Fabian invited his stepfather, Herman Kahan, present with his mother, Rita Kent, to recite Kaddish d’Rabbanan

The ceremony concluded with a rousing Adon Olam and a glorious afternoon tea prepared by member volunteers.

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Live from Israel

What Rabbinate Do We Need? HUC-JIR/Jerusalem Hosts Conference

From May 31 to June 1 the Jerusalem campus of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) organized a gathering that addressed issues related to the role of – and appropriate training for – the Liberal rabbinate in Israel.

The "What Rabbinate Do We Need?" conference featured a keynote that was delivered by acclaimed Israeli author Haim Beer, who spoke on "The Rabbi as an Agent of Culture." 

Discussing the Fate of Liberal Rabbis in Israel:
HUC-JIR's conference in Jerusalem.

In addition, panel discussions dealt with the question of denominationalism, cultural factors impacting the effectiveness of the Reform rabbinate in Israel, and research on the motivation and training of Reform rabbis.

According to Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean of HUC-JIR: ""What Rabbinate is needed in Israel today?" is a pressing and exciting question. As new models emerge and older ones are revitalized and adapted for Israel, our conference proved relevant and inspiring. We were able to convene speakers from across the Liberal perspective, including two modern Orthodox rabbis. This discussion must continue and deepen as we shape the next generation of rabbis that can and must lead the ongoing search for community and Jewish identity in Israel." 

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Vacation with the Kids? Israeli Reform Movement Summer Camp Open For Registration

The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) is pleased to announce that, for the second year in a row, the Havayah Summer Camp is open for registration.

Campers will gather at Givat Havivah for a summer of fun, games, Jewish learning, engagement and leadership development.

Summer of Smiles: IMPJ gets ready to open
its Havayah Summer Camp.

Last summer, "Havayah" was one of the few summer camps that continued to operate despite the Gaza war. Not only did the camp continue to function, but the older campers stepped up to pack food and aid packages for southern families in need and soldiers serving in the line of fire.

Many soldiers serving during Operation Protective Edge had siblings who were "Havayah" campers.

IMPJ's youth movement, Noar Telem, is hard at work preparing for this summer's camp, which is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

If you are planning to be in Israel over the summer, the IMPJ cordially invites you to sign your child up for an experience of a lifetime. First session begins on July 15.

For more information about registering for the Havayah Summer Camp, contact Damian Kelman, Director of Noar Telem.

News Bits

Going Away for the Summer? Let WUPJ Connect You with Progressive Communities around the World

How does one locate and contact a Progressive/Reform/Liberal congregation when travelling abroad? Let the World Union for Progressive Judaism show you the way. 

By sending the WUPJ office in New York one e-mail, several weeks in advance of your visit, we can arrange for you to be welcomed and treated as honored guests.

First, we encourage you to visit the World Union for Progressive Judaism's Congregations page as you begin to plan your vacation. On the website, you’ll find WUPJ congregations listed by country and city. 

Once you have located a community, contact Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, Vice President, Philanthropy for the World Union for Progressive Judaism. 

To expedite the process of placing you with a Jewish community in one of over 50 countries, please let Gary know where you will be staying, when you would like to visit, number of people travelling with you, and a way to contact you once you are there. 

This is a great way to get to know a country. By contacting the WUPJ, you will have a unique opportunity to meet your international “cousins” who can give you insights into their lives, and the challenges and triumphs of living as Jews in their communities.

Contact Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor.

More information available here.

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Day of Celebration: British Progressive Jews Told to 'Interfere' in Israeli Politics

During Liberal Judaism's (LJ) 2015 Day of Celebration, a succession of speakers urged Britain's Progressive Jewish communities to get more involved in Israeli politics. 

Rabbi Miri Gold, the first non-Orthodox rabbi in Israel to have her salary paid by the government and Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), told delegates how important the support of the Diaspora was to those fighting for religious pluralism and human rights inside Israel.


Rabbi Gold said that support from the UK greatly helped during her battle for official state recognition of her title as Progressive rabbi, as well as in the continuing fight for equality for non-Orthodox strands of Judaism.

Hoffman, who is also a founding member of Women of the Wall, urged British Jews to write to Israeli Ministers and the Israeli Embassy to add to the growing pressure for a pluralistic, open and inclusive Israel.

Held on June 7 at London's St. John’s Wood Liberal Jewish Synagogue (LJS), the Day of Celebration attracted over three hundred Liberal Jews from 40 communities across the United Kingdom.

Read more about the Day of Celebration here.

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Leaders Welcomed: WUPJ-LA Partners with WJC in Latin America

For the first time, the WUPJ-Latin America (WUPJ-LA) collaborated with the Latin American chapter of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) to organize several meetings tailored to young adults and future Jewish leaders. 
This first meeting featured a discussion about Jewish identity that was moderated by noted Jewish educator Rabbi Rogerio Z. Cukierman.

The 15 participants questioned, debated and listened to  different points of views. In essence, the WUPJ-LA and local WJC represtantives created a warm and welcoming Beit Midrash - a house of learning - for all who attended.

In the future, this project will offer opportunities for São Paulo Jews to learn, teach, strengthen their communities and engage one another in developing and implementing programs for Progressive Jewish young adults.

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House of Jewish Learning: London's Leo Baeck College Presents Adult Learning Program for 2015-2016

Looking to feed your enthusiasm for Progressive Jewish learning? Do you have an unquenchable desire to discover yourself in Judaism and Judaism in yourself?

If so, then you should consider studying at the Leo Baeck College Lehrhaus in London, UK.

2014-15 saw the launch of the Leo Baeck College Lehrhaus. It is LBC's new program in Adult Jewish Learning, taught by members of the College faculty. 

Due to the success of the first year, Leo Baeck is delighted to invite you to sign up for the 2015-16 program. 

The richness, variety and quality of the courses are bound inspire and enthuse Progressive-minded people everywhere!

The program for 2015-16 can be found here.

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Dear Congregations, High Holiday Machzorim Prayerbooks Available Free of Charge!

Many Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) congregations will soon begin using the new Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) High Holiday Machzor, Mishkan Hanefesh. As a result, there will be multiple copies of the old Machzor, Gates of Repentance (GOR), which could be sent to WUPJ congregations around the world.
Progressive communities' can thus benefit from having additional copies of the previous Machzor for no charge, other than shipping costs.

If your congregation would like to contribute GOR Machzorim or if your congregation would like to receive copies of GOR, please write directly to Shimrit Levy, administrative assistant in the WUPJ Jerusalem office.  

Thank you in advance to those URJ congregations prepared to do this Mitzvah.

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July 2-12, 2015 - Bergman Seminar for Jewish Educators, Israel

July 2-5, 2015 - UPJ Conference, Berlin, Germany

November 4–8, 2015 – Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) 73rd Biennial Conference, Orlando, Florida

November 5, 2015 - International Humanitarian Award Dinner Honouring Rabbi Lenny Thal & Installation of Rabbi Daniel Freelander,
URJ Biennial Conference, Orlando, Florida

November 8–12, 2015 - Southern Jewish Civil Rights Experience, Atlanta, Georgia - For Registration Please Click Here

July 15-17, 2016 - SAUPJ 2016 Biennial Conference, South Africa

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