Issue # 100 – March 2016 / Adar I – Adar II/ 5776.
 Newsletter #100
The WUPJ Latin America celebrates the 100th issue of this monthly newsletter. Since August 2005, our communications team works to bring you the most important news about Reform Judaism. Check out our first issue:

 São Paulo will once again host the WUPJ-LA Conference in June

The 5th Conference of Jewish Communities in Latin America will be held on June 23rd to the 25th, 2016, in partnership with the Congregação Israelita Paulista and Unibes Cultural.



More information on the hotsite (English version not ready yet)

 Farewell to Berta Zylberstajn
"How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment to start to improve the world." Anne Frank

Berta has been working with us since the first day that we founded our organization in Latin America. She embraced the cause, is a true reformist, rolled up her sleeves and worked, worked, worked tirelessly. At any time of the day or night, always very involved, and willing to do whatever was necessary. There is no person or community that Berta does not know, and if she does not know them she gets to know them in minutes.

In March of this year we are celebrating our Bar Mitzvah (13 years since our organization was founded in Latin America), and it has been 13 years since Berta has been our Executive Secretary. Way beyond her professional competency, Berta committed herself with total conviction to the relevance of our movement, heading the communications department producing a newsletter every month, together with an integrated team. Everything in 3 languages, reaching the 100th issue today. Impeccable work with excellent content, as well as numerous other activities that she conducts for the organization.

This month Berta decided to go in another direction and follow a new path, leaving her position as Executive Secretary of the WUPJ LA, which saddens us tremendously. We do not want to make this letter a farewell because Berta will continue to be one of our volunteers. But we understand that it is time for a change in her life, together with the dear Helio, who also always supported us, and with their children and grandchildren. A beautiful family!

Berta, we want to take this moment to thank you, from the heart, in the name of the WUPJ family, for your unparalleled dedication, commitment and friendship. May we continue our journey together, now in a new way, but always together.

Yasher Koach!

Raul Gottlieb and Miriam Vasserman on behalf of the WUPJ Family

 The Kotel is not a synagogue

In a historical decision, the Israeli government reversed the status quo that existed since 1967, when the Wailing Wall (Kotel Ha'maaravi) was considered an orthodox synagogue.

The new decision, which still has to be implemented with a reallocation of the space, defines that the area in front of the Kotel is not a part of the "orthodox synagogue", thus it can now host national ceremonies without segregation by sex and with feminine voices, and also that a new area will be created for egalitarian religious ceremonies.

This decision is an important step in the direction of recognizing that there is more than one way to pray and connect with the Jewish religion and this is excellent. However, it still maintains the wrong view that the Kotel is a synagogue.

In our view, the Kotel is not a synagogue. It is a national landmark. The most important physical record of our collective history, with a deep meaning for Jews, be they secular or religious, in all of the different shades within these two concepts.

With some imperfection, being that it was not built for this purpose, we can compare the Kotel to a national monument. A monument that belongs spiritually not only to the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel, but also to all Jews in the world. In a broader analysis, it is also a monument for all of humanity, given the fundamental concepts of morality and ethics that are contained in Judaism.

It is valid for a group of Jews to want to pray at a monument, at a park or in any other place, as long as they maintain the public order. Thus it is perfectly possible to pray at the Kotel without having it declared a synagogue. We do not need structures to connect with God.

The Jewish people need to strengthen their unity. Admitting that there is more than one way to be Jewish is a good step in that direction. The next step will be taken when the prayer of one brother does not need to the segregated from the rest. Then the Kotel will go back to being a unified space.

May this happen soon and during our days!

 Brazilian Representatives at the Beutel Seminar 2016 in Israel

The Beutel International Leadership Seminar held in Israel, with participants from Australia, Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom, was a great success. According to Rabbi Steve Burnstein, Director of the Saltz Center, the program was redesigned after feedback from participants from the previous years. "We put an emphasis on the evolution of the needs of the WUPJ communities all over the world", he stated. According to the participants from Latin America:

"Participating in the Beutel Seminar was a gratifying and inspiring experience. We had magnificent sessions, with the participation of the main leaders and educators, who provided us with a complete, deep and up-to-date vision of Reform Judaism in the world and in Israel. We were able to visit some places to observe the programs and activities conducted, and we saw how our Israeli fellows put our values and principles into practice. The group this year was able to witness the special moment of affirmation, legitimization and expansion of Reform Judaism in Israel. Every day the movement reaches new conquests that are transforming Israeli society both in the religious as well as social and political aspects. We all came back with many ideas in our minds and a lot of hope in our hearts to continue to build a fairer and more tolerant world."

Hélio Zylberstajn

"The activities of the Beutel Seminar allowed us, in 10 days, to become deeply in touch with Progressive Judaism in Israel and interact with representatives from progressive communities around the world. It was an excellent opportunity to get an up-to-date panorama of the main initiatives and coordinated actions of Progressive Judaism, and at the same time exchange experiences as a community. Furthermore, it added value in terms of Jewish education, ethical discussions, contact with Israeli society, volunteerism and creative tefilá initiatives".

Daniel Weiss Vilhordo – SIBRA

"Participating in the Beutel Seminar 2016 was an excellent opportunity to learn about community leadership and strengthen our ties with Judaism and with Israel. We had the opportunity to experience the different conflicts that Israel and Progressive Judaism go through, at the same time emphasizing the various initiatives to build bridges for intra and inter-religious dialogue. It was a few days with intense and dense programming and I bring this experience to the members of my congregation in Fortaleza. Days that will be remembered"...

Marcus Strozberg - Sociedade Israelita do Ceará - SIC

"Discovering Israel, experiencing Judaism in its full meaning, being in contact with leaders who are concerned with the development of their communities and becoming acquainted with people who have the will to bring about the changes that society needs. These were the great legacies that the Beutel Seminar left after 10 days of activities. We came back thankful for the people we met, for the Jewish and social experiences we witnesses and continue to reflect on the many dialogues and ideas that we had together. It was a very special 10 days that certainly need to be shared in our communities so that the message of the WUPJ is multiplied and bears good fruit".

Matheus Neves – SIBRA

"As a collaborator of the WUPJ Latin America since 2005, I followed the previous editions of the Beutel Seminar through its publicity and results. This time I had the opportunity, also as a member of my Congregation, to be one of the participants and live this notable experience. Personally the Beutel Seminar was a unique meeting with regards to a Jewish spiritual experience and with regards to the programs being developed in Israel. The knowledge and interaction among scholars, the leaders of the movement and the various communities represented at the conference permitted the creation of an informal communication channel among them, with the objective of mutual collaboration and development".

Berta Zylberstajn – CIP/WUPJ-LA

 WUPJ holds the first international symposium on Beit Din (rabbinical tribunal)
Rabbi Uri Lam, from the Congregação Israelita Mineira, represented Latin America at the first symposium on Beit Din – rabbinical tribunal – for Reform and Progressive Judaism. A group of twenty rabbis from congregations affiliated to the WUPJ in 12 countries participated in the conference in Israel, for an intense dialogue on topics related to conversion to Judaism, including topics such as the use of technology in the conversion process, pre-requisites for aliyah and marriage among people of the same sex.

 Congressman Jean Wyllys speaks about his trip to Israel to young adults from the CJL and the WUPJ
At the end of February, Congressman Jean Wylles (PSOL-RJ) participated in a meeting with over 40 young adults from the Novas Gerações group from the Jewish Latin-American Congress (CJL) and the WUPJ at the home of Miriam Vasserman.

He spoke about a trip he took to Israel in January and other topics, remembering his trajectory from Alagoinhas (Bahia), where he was born into a family that lived below the poverty line, to his current battles against homophobia and discrimination.

His trip to Israel came about after an invitation to conduct a lecture at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. According to him, even before he left Brazil, he was approached by a few groups asking him not to accept the invitation and to join forces in the boycott against Israel, which he did not do.

Regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he stated that, in his opinion, "the solution resides in the recognition of two states with a map similar to that proposed in 1967". And he added, citing a metaphor by Amós Oz about the division of an apartment after a divorce. When one side keeps the dining room and the other the living room, but the bathroom and the kitchen are common areas and need to be shared so that they can continue to coexist. "Nobody expects there to be love", he concluded with a citation to Lulu Santos: "it is still gong to take some time to heal what is hurt from the inside".

 Ruaj Ami Community in Chile has a new spiritual leader
Founded on April 2, 1979, Ruaj Ami is a meeting place for modern, pluralist and inclusive Judaism. A space for inclusion, respect and tolerance; a place where one can have a spiritual life with a realist, Chilean and worldly expression; an alternative and egalitarian community.

Diego Edelberg, educated as a chazzan and educator, is the new spiritual leader of the Ruaj Ami community in Chile. After working at the Grande Templo Israelita, in Rio de Janeiro, he was invited by Rabbi Sergio Bergman to return to Buenos Aires and work at the Congregación Israelita de la República Argentina (CIRA), where he stayed for nine years.

Learn more about Diego at and

 ARZENU chooses representative in Argentina

Ricardo José Rotholtz, from Buenos Aires, was appointed as ARZENU representative in Argentina. ARZENU is an organization that brings together Reform and Progressive Zionist Jews, founded in 1980, and represents their interests in the governing bodies of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Learn more at

 WUJP International announces changes in the Marketing and Communications team

Ziva Haller Rubenstein is the new Marketing and Communications Director of the WUPJ International in Jerusalem. With experience in profit and non-profit organizations in the USA and Israel, she is also a member of the YOZMA community, in Modiin, Israel where she lives with her family.

 Bergman Seminar for educators /Jerusalem/ July 14-24, 2016

"Creating meaningful connections"

The Bergman Seminar is an intensive 10-day program for educators from Jewish schools and Progressive and Liberal congregations from around the world, combining classroom and text study with site visits in Jerusalem and throughout Israel that will bring the texts and ideas to life.

• Spend 10 days with exceptional Progressive / Liberal Jewish educators from around the world

• Discuss critical problems faced by Israel and the Jewish people

• Use the locations in Israel to learn in detail about the topics vital for Jewish education

• Hear the voice of our traditions take on a life

• Meet with the main leaders in Jewish Education

• Explore history, culture, Hebrew, politics, education and much more

For more information, program and registration: and

Subsidies available

 Q&A about Progressive Judaism
When and how do we celebrate Purim?

Purim is celebrated on Adar II 13/14, march 23/24, by the reading of the Scroll of Esther, known in Hebrew as the Megillat Esther, which relates the basic story of Purim. Under the rule of King Ahashuerus, Haman, the King's prime minister, plots to exterminate all of the Jews of Persia. Queen Esther and her cousin Mordechai, who ultimately save the Jews of the land from destruction, foil his plan. The reading of the Megillat is typically a rowdy affair, punctuated by booing and noise making when Haman's name is read aloud. Purim is an unusual holiday in many respects. First, Esther is the only Book of the Bible in which God is not mentioned. Second, Purim, like Chanukah, is viewed traditionally as a minor festival, but elevated to a major holiday because of the Jewish historical experience. Over the centuries, Haman became the embodiment of every anti-Semite in every land where Jews were oppressed. The significance in Purim lies not so much in how it began, but in what it has become - a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival against all odds.

See more at

And "Beit Haam - Purim" en Español
 Próximos eventos WUPJ
WUPJ Seminars Trips in 2016 – Live this unforgettable experience!

• Kenes TaMaR – March 30 – April 3, Israel:

• Berlin & London: Celebrating 90 Years of the WUPJ, April 7-14. Click here for details.

• European Union for Progressive Judaism (EUPJ), Biennial Conference, April 14-17, England.

• The Law under the Israeli perspective: Searching for Justice, May 11-16. Click here for details.

• Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) Conference, May 27-28, Israel.

• Israel: Israeli Reform Judaism through an internal perspective, May 19-26. Click here for details.

• South Africa: An Adventure through Africa & Safari, July 6-17. Click here for details.

• The Bergman Seminar for Jewish Educators July 14-24, Israel.

• Far East: China Singapore, November 9-18. Click here for details.

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