Issue # 102 – May 2016 / Nissan-Iyar / 5776..
 "The continuity of democracy as a Jewish value"
Topic will be debated during the 5th Conference of the Jewish Communities in Latin America

June 23 to 25, 2016, in São Paulo - Registration is open!
Special discounts deadline extended until May 15th!

The president of the WUPJ-LA, Raul Gottlieb, shows conviction and enthusiasm when speaking about the conference that the institution is organizing in June. As president since 2004, the engineer and entrepreneur in the area of technology is also an activist at the ARI-RJ and Director of the Devarim magazine. In this interview, he states that the event will be a success.

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How was the theme of the conference chosen: "The continuity of democracy as a Jewish value"?

There is a question as to whether it is possible to be Jewish and democratic at the same time. That is because, when Judaism was created around the idea of monotheism, democracy was not a political practice. Democracy is more modern. But, it is evident that basic concepts of democracy are contained in Judaism. For example, the fact that humanity was created from a single root means that everyone has the same value. No one person is better than the other. This is a concept of democratic equality. The laws are for everyone. Furthermore, we, that suffered persecutions during centuries in Europe and in the Islamic countries of the Middle East because they were not democratic, have to value democracy. Thus, the theme of our conference discusses this concern. The defense of democracy, which many people think is already absolute, but which needs to be cared for, just like Jewish values.

Which WUPJ Latin America actions do you highlight?

Before the WUPJ established itself in the region, a little over 10 years ago, the communities lived like islands. The WUPJ builds bridges between these communities so that people can work on topics of common interest. And it is exactly here that the conference we are organizing in São Paulo fits is. We have various projects in common, but I highlight two large initiatives. One of them is the translation into Portuguese on the Chumash (the Torah and the Haftarot) by Rabbi Gunther Plaut, with support texts that are in line with the reality and values of Reform Judaism and contemporary life. The second initiative is the Mikra, the pre-rabbinical course, offered by the Fundación Judaica in Buenos Aires, in partnership with the HUC-JIR (largest Liberal Seminar in the world) and with the support of the WUPJ Latin America.

What is the differentiating factor of Reform Judaism?

Judaism is Judaism. It is one single thing. The reform movement has been in Latin America for 80 years, since before the World War II. Many Germans founded reform communities because it was adequate for them. And this continues to be adequate for all of us. The Reform movement modernizes itself. We are always in turmoil. We do not have the luxury of saying: this was always like this so we are going to continue to do it. Sometimes it is a very comfortable position. Reform forces one to question all of the time.

 WUPJ International celebrates.... with representatives from Latin America
Dale Lasar

The 90th anniversary of the WUPJ was celebrated in London, cradle of the institution, during the biennial conference of the EUPJ, European branch of the entity, with the theme "Building Bridges – Spanning the Jewish World and Beyond. Presently, the WUPJ is the largest body of synagogues in the world, with over 1.8 million members in 50 countries.

The activist Erika Wolff, from Brazil, was delighted with the synagogues chosen for the religious ceremonies, especially The Liberal Jewish Synagogue, St. John's Wood. Erika remembers that this location was bombed during World War II and renovated in a very modern style, is considered the largest liberal synagogue in the United Kingdom, with capacity for 2,000 people. "It was a beautiful religious service, a wonderful sanctuary and with an excellent choir".

Miriam Olchansky / Dale Lasar

Miriam Vasserman, Erika Wolff, Miriam Olchansky and Wilkenfeld Seminare Group

For Miriam Olchansky, Communications Secretary of the Fundación Judaica and member of the CD de NCI-Emanu El, "The interaction with colleagues and friends from various parts of the world, with common visions, accomplishments and problems, helps us to understand the primordial place that the reform synagogues have in the global Jewish life".

Dale Lasar
Anat Hoffman, Miriam Vasserman, Raul Gottlieb, Ida Katz and Ruth Bohm

Taking advantage that the EUPJ conference was being held, the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) held the first Wilkenfeld seminar. "During the seminar, there were many moments when all of the participants were moved and felt like they were participating in a unique moment. We bring back in our suitcases a lot of experience, many ideas and connections so that we may improve activities in our community and in the WUPJ", evaluates Ida Katz, representative of the Centro Israelita de Pernambuco, in Recife.

 Excitement in the 1st religious wedding of people from the same gender in Latin America

Read the testimony of Romina Charur, wife of Victoria Escobar. The two lawyers officiated their civil marriage in 2014, but want to educate their children according to Jewish values.

"Vicky and I met in 2009 and after the transcendent law of egalitarian marriage in Argentina and after having grown as a couple, we got legally married in 2014. From the beginning it was our desire to form a home and constitute a Jewish family.

So it was after a lot of studying and community work, both from the volunteers of the community as well as the rabbinical team, together with the work being conducted by the JAG (Judíos Argentinos Gays) for over 10 years, an institution of which I am a member since the last term, last April 10, 2016 we were married under the Chupah in our community, NCI- Emanu-El, according to the Jewish law and ritual.

We are very happy and proud to have constituted a Jewish marriage and of this great step for the community and the full recognition of all of the religious rights for all of the members of the community."

 Launch of the Devarim magazine – issue 29

The newest edition of the DEVARIM magazine, produced by the ARI, is being distributed. The publication enters its 10th year conserving the foundations which made it an important reference for Brazilian Judaism and for the Jewish cultural production in the country.

This publication presents texts, a majority of which is unprecedented, mixed with some texts of great interest from the international press, always focused on current Judaism and its evolution.

The magazine is distributed free of charge to the members of the ARI and to all those interested who register on the website
 Community in Chile celebrates its 100 anniversary

The Sociedad Israelita de Instrucción y Beneficencia Max Nordau, in Valparaiso, Chile, was founded on April 29, 1916, consisting of Sephardic Jews who had immigrated mainly from Smirna in Turkey and by Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. After some years the Ashkenazi Jews moved to Viña del Mar, thus the community is now only consists of Sephardic Jews. It has the oldest Sefer Torah in Chile, over 100 years old and brought from Smirna and which is still conserved in a good state.

 College Commons
The HUC-JIR in Los Angeles is producing material on Judaism in Dialogue with modern society. This material is available for free on the web and is worth accessing. Listen:

"The confusion we feel when we find out that someone we like has positions that we find despicable is understandable. We want the people that we like to share the same moral values as us.

Some may suggest that the best (and easiest) answer to this dilemma is to simply ignore the subject and focus on problems that are important to you and to people that share those same values. But our thousand-year-old wisdom, preserved by the Torah, teaches us that to build an ideal society we have the responsibility of trying to influence those who surround us when we feel that they are doing something wrong..." Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi.

See the pictures from the Passover festivities at the congregations affiliated to the WUPJ Latin America.



Bet Chadash


Seder inter-religioso


Adat Israel