The Union for Progressive Judaism (UPJ) covers about one-third of the world’s area.
Progressive Judaism commenced approximately 85 years ago in Melbourne Australia and from there, spread out to cover all major Australian cities and New Zealand. Until World War II, the Australian and New Zealand communities were largely Anglo and nominally Orthodox.
There has been a big growth in population, beginning with refugees from Europe and in particular, from Eastern Europe. The Melbourne Jewish community took in large numbers of Polish Jews whilst Hungarian Jews tended to go to Sydney.
The Asian communities have a very different profile. Originally Hong Kong and Singapore were settled by Sephardi Jews, who went there for trading opportunities. Many of them came from Iraq. Those communities are now largely expat, with significant percentages from North America and Israel.
We have 37 congregations or Kehilot (friendship groups) across our region.
Approximately, 85% of Progressive Jews are in Melbourne and Sydney, where there is very active Jewish life.
Our community tends to be more conservative in outlook and practice than the Reform Movement in North America. Services are more traditional and politically, the community tends to be more conservative than in North America, but the emphasis on Tikkun Olam is just as strong.
Our region is a strong supporter of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. The World Union was supportive of us 85 years ago and we believe that, as a prosperous community, we have an obligation to support the World Union in its various programs. On a per capita basis, we are the most generous financial supporters of the World Union.
If you are visiting our region, we would love to see you and invite you to services in whichever city you visit. You may well find yourself invited home for a Shabbat dinner. Simply go to www.upj.org.au and click on the map, which shows where our congregations are located.
About the author:
Roger Mendelson is the President of the UPJ Australia, New Zealand and Asia