In accordance with protocol, Carole Sterling as chair empaneled a resolutions committee to spearhead the process of requesting, formulating and editing possible resolutions to be introduced before the IA at the meeting on 17-May 2017, at 14.00-16.30, in Jerusalem, prior to the opening of CONNECTIONS 2017.
The committee was chaired by Philip Bliss of Australia, and includes the following members: Helen Shardey from Australia, Andrea Kulikovsky from South America, Steve Lurie and Eric Beswick from South Africa, Judy Smith and Ferenc Raj from Europe, Liz Dunst and Susan Rothschild from North America, Dr. Ronen Beeri (chair of IRAC’s Management Committee) and Noa Satat from Israel, and Professor Fuad Aleskerov from the FSU.
The committee reached out to all WUPJ regions requesting resolutions, and then held various meetings to arrive at a final set of suggestions. These suggestions have also been reviewed by the WUPJ Management Committee and Executive Board and are presented below.
Resolutions for Consideration
1. Resolution on refugees
“You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger since you were strangers in the land of Egypt” Exodus 22:20:39 Whereas there has been an enormous rise in refugee numbers in many regions of the world; and Whereas it is the responsibility of governments to protect their own communities from terrorism and acts of violence; and Whereas there has been a huge increase in religious intolerance and xenophobia resulting from the desperate needs of millions of refugees; and Whereas this Assembly recognizes the need to fully vet all refugee applicants, IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that this International Assembly of the World Union for Progressive Judaism calls on all governments to have a non-discriminatory, welcoming immigration and refugee policy, a policy that is not based on the religion, color or race of applicants but on their needs once the applicant has been properly vetted. Furthermore this Assembly calls on all governments to abide by the UN Convention on Refugees.
2. Resolution on establishing international internship programs for students and recently ordained rabbis
Whereas some regions have few rabbis to serve their membership, placing Jewish communities both large and small in non-developed areas at risk; and Whereas the rabbis are free to serve anywhere in the world; and
Whereas it is important for a rabbi to become acquainted with the reality and difficulties of Jewish communities around the world; and
Whereas such communities do not necessarily have the financial means to support a rabbi or have the sufficient knowledge of how to hire such leader, IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that this International Assembly of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, calls upon its member rabbinic seminaries, congregations and constituents to establish a program of internship of students and recently ordained rabbis with communities located in non-developed countries; and IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that there will be a committee established to study means to increase the presence of rabbis in non-developed countries and small communities around the world.
3. Resolution on supporting multiple languages on the WUPJ website
Whereas the World Union for Progressive Judaism has 1.8 million members around the world in all regions and most countries,
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that the Website and other social media of the WUPJ be made available in several languages to reflect our multicultural movement and provide a more welcoming face to potential members
4. Resolution on providing webinars in multiple languages
Whereas the World Union for Progressive Judaism has members in many different time zones and the thirst for knowledge is always present,
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that the WUPJ offer to its members and potential members, educational webinars in multiple languages that would support the work of the regions to provide up-to-date information in the areas of interest to the regions and their members; and
IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that wherever possible, the WUPJ shall record the webinars and make them available at the members convenience.
5. Resolution on Israel, religious freedoms and Jewish peoplehood
Whereas, Reform, Progressive and Liberal Jewish Communities around the world have a commitment to and a love for the state of Israel; and
Whereas WUPJ congregations around the world express grave concern about religious freedoms in Israel and the discrimination against Reform and Progressive Judaism in Israel; and
Whereas the on-going tension around the issues of religious freedoms at the Kotel, the “Who is a Jew question”, and the discrimination against our movement in Israel are causing a rift between diaspora Reform and Progressive communities and the State of Israel
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that this International Assembly calls upon the elected Government of Israel to:
- Immediately implement the Kotel agreement that was historically approved by the Israeli government on January 31st 2016.
- Avoid discriminatory legislation around the “Who is a Jew” question.
- Ensure equality in funding for the Reform movement in Israel, including the salaries of Reform rabbis, the building of Reform synagogues and Ritual baths, and the support for Reform institutions.
6. Resolution on the Strengthening of the State of Israel’s International Legitimacy as a Jewish and Democratic State and the Nurturing of Israeli Democracy
Whereas the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), its congregations and members view the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State as a fundamental right of the Jewish People; and
Whereas as Reform, Liberal and Progressive Jews who promote these values in all countries in which our congregations operate , we believe in the Jewish and Zionist obligation to work towards the fulfillment of an exemplary society in the State of Israel, based on its Declaration of Independence; and
Whereas the State of Israel continues to face a variety of existential threats as well as voices in the international community undermining its legitimacy as a Jewish and democratic state; and
Whereas in recent years political polarization in Israel has continued to grow while at the same time the Israeli Government is promoting legislation and policy which may negatively impact Israel’s democratic and Jewish character;
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that the International Assembly of the World Union for Progressive Judaism hereby declares:
- WUPJ and its congregations will act against public and political measures meant to question the legitimacy of the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, including against the BDS Movement.
- WUPJ and its congregations support the tireless effort by the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) in strengthening the democratic character of the State of Israel and will assist actively.
- WUPJ calls upon the Israeli Government to refrain from enacting legislation and other measures which may negatively impact Israel’s democratic character
- WUPJ and its congregations will work to ensure the pluralistic, inclusive and diverse character of dialogue in the Jewish world on matters relating to Israel, allowing for criticism, and debate, presented out of a commitment to the future of the Jewish people and the State of Israel and out of adherence to the Jewish principle of machloket l’shem shamayim “controversy for the sake of heaven.
7. Resolution on the Strengthening of the relationship and bonds between congregations and members of the WUPJ, the state of Israel and the congregations and members of the IMPJ
Whereas Reform, Liberal and Progressive Jews in all countries in which our congregations operate, believe strongly in the Jewish and Zionist obligation to work towards the development of vibrant Jewish communities and congregations in Israel and throughout the world based on values of Judaism, democracy, pluralism, tolerance, and tikun olam; and
Whereas Reform, Liberal and Progressive Jews see a creative and strong relationship between Israel and world Jewish communities as crucial not only to Israel’s existence but to the future of the Jewish people; and
Whereas there is concern about the weakening of ties between Israel and World Jewry due both to internally and externally based trends especially in the younger generation.
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that The International Assembly of the World Union for Progressive Judaism hereby declares:
- WUPJ calls upon its congregations and members around the world to work towards the nurturing of their relationship with the State of Israel as a high priority, with an emphasis on the younger generation, and strengthening the connection and bond between Reform congregations in Israel and Reform, Progressive and Liberal congregations in the diaspora through the Domim-Alike initiative as well as other projects.
- WUPJ calls upon its congregations and members to support the efforts of the IMPJ in building and expanding our movement in Israel.
- WUPJ calls on its congregations and members, to join the Zionist Movement through “ARZENU” and thereby strengthen the liberal and pluralistic forces in Israeli society through democratic processes.
- WUPJ calls upon its congregations and members to celebrate Israel’s 70th Independence Day in a variety of cultural, musical, educational, dialogue, and prayer activities as well as by visiting Israel.
8. Resolution on a shared society between Arabs and Jews in Israel
Whereas Progressive, Reform, Liberal Jews we believe that “loving the stranger as yourself” is a sacred Jewish command and value; and
Whereas we view with great concern the rise in racist incitement in the name of Judaism in Israel, and we are particularly alarmed by racist incitement by state-employed rabbis; and
Whereas we view a vital shared society between Jews and Arabs as essential to Israel’s future; and
Whereas the work promoting a shared society between Jews and Arabs is central to the mission of our movement in Israel,
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that this International Assembly condemns all racist incitement in the name of Judaism. This Assembly states that the Judaism we believe in values every person as created in God’s image, and commands us to treat every individual with respect and equality,
IT IS FURTHER RESOLVED that this International Assembly calls upon the elected Government of Israel to address the issue of incitement to racism and promote equality between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
9. Resolution on Supporting Hungarian Reform Judaism
Whereas in 2011, the Hungarian Parliament modified the previous church law and enacted the new CCVI of 2011 on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion and the Legal Status of Churches, Denominations and Religious Communities (“Religious Freedom Law”); and
Whereas since January 1 2012, apart from the recognized churches listed in the Appendix of the Religious Freedom Law, all other religious communities that were excluded from the list – among them the two Hungarian Reform Jewish “churches,” Bet Orim and Sim Shalom – both members of the European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ) were denied their status as churches, lost State subsidies, and were forced to continue their activities only as associations; and
Whereas the two Hungarian Progressive Jewish “churches” and the EUPJ appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, stating their rights under the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms were violated; and
Whereas the ECHR made the judgment stating that the Hungarian government had breached their rights and obliged the government to certain damage payment and legislative acts,
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that this International Assembly of the World Union for Progressive Judaism calls upon the Parliament of Hungary to act in accordance with the ECHR’s judgment and make the certain modification of the Church Law which results that the two Reform congregations in Budapest, Hungary, Bet Orim and Sim Shalom regain their adopted church status with all and equal rights as every recognized church is entitled. We call upon the government of Hungary to restore the government funding denied to them and to restore to them the funds which they would have received since the time their church status was denied.
10. Resolution on antisemitism and racism
Whereas over the last few years there has been a significant rise in antisemitism and acts of violence against Jews and Jewish property in many cities around the world and
Whereas there has been a promotion of extremist ideology on both the right and left wings of politics and
Whereas there have been numerous politicians and community leaders who have encouraged a populist, racist and discriminatory agenda to gain power and privilege
IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED that the International Assembly of the World Union for Progressive Judaism representing 2 million Jews on every continent of the world, calls on all other religious bodies to work to create a greater understanding between the faiths in order to try and reduce the level of hate and violence permeating our world and further call upon governments to act promptly, effectively and unequivocally against such deeds.