WUPJ Brings Together Reform community leaders from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus for Seminar in Israel

Representatives from Reform/Progressive Jewish communities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus have gathered in Israel for an enriching leadership seminar as part of the Shlichei Tzibor program. The program was led by Eyal Ronder, WUPJ Vice President of Operations with programming provided by the WUPJ’s Center for Education and Leadership Development.

Guided by the WUPJ values of fostering a loving relationship with Israel, participants engaged deeply with Israel’s history, society, culture, and achievements. This connection enhanced their sense of Jewish peoplehood and appreciation of Israel’s central role in their traditions, texts, and prayers.

During the first days of the seminar, the group experienced Kabbalat Shabbat at Kehilat Shirat Hayam, Haifa’s Russian-speaking Reform community, and led Shabbat morning prayers at Kehilat Or Hadash. Participants immersed themselves in leadership workshops and Torah study with top Russian-speaking Israeli rabbis and educators at Mishkenot Ruth in Jaffa and Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem. Embracing WUPJ values, they connected deeply with Israel’s diverse communities. They learned about support for Russian-speaking olim since October 7 at Shishi Shabbat Yisraeli and visited Tzippori National Park, where they prayed in the ancient synagogue, and had a profound experience at Hostage Square in Tel Aviv. In Jerusalem, participants toured the ruins of the Second Temple and led prayers at the Egalitarian Kotel. They concluded the seminar by delving into the history and realization of Zionism at Mount Herzl.

Eyal Ronder said: “The Shlichei Tzibor was a seminar of courageous community leaders who came to acquire leadership knowledge and experience. Participants enlarged their community toolbox and enriched their spiritual Jewish knowledge. A big thank-you to the rabbis and teachers of the course and all the dear participants who came to Israel. We must continue to strengthen community lay leadership and the connection to Israel.”

WUPJ President Rabbi Sergio Bergman shared: “The Shlichei Tzibor from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine who participated in the training seminar in Israel represent the continuation of our Progressive community leadership support in communities where the trauma of war and displacement does not deter the aspirations of those who continue to build Progressive Jewish continuity and respond with hope and promoting our values. These were days of shared learning, attentive listening, and mutual support among all of us who are part of the extended family of the WUPJ.”