Issue # 110 - January 2017 – Têvet/Shevat 5777.
 Youth in a seminar held at a site of environmental tragedy
“Few are guilty, but all are responsible.” Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel

The WUPJ held, on December 9-11, 2016, the first Seminar Tikkun Olam for young people of Latin America. In this event, thirteen participants from different Brazilian cities met, worked and shared moments of learning, respect and deep connection with activists from the village called Regência Augusta (or, simply known as “Regência”), in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil.

Regência, located at the mouth of Doce River, was affected in late 2015 by the mud from the dam burst of mining company Samarco, which covered the city of Mariana, in Minas Gerais, and was carried by Doce River, causing destruction along its course.

The trip was offered in partnership with Hillel Rio, Hashomer Hatzair and affiliated congregations, and with the support of The Jewish Agency and TaMaR.

Participants visited the city and saw the local reality, repaired doors and sinks, cleaned yards, painted walls, hung shelves, planted gardens, organized materials, studied Jewish texts, sang and prayed together.

They brought books and games collected in their communities, helping the creation of a library in Casa Rosa, the location of the Instituto Unidos pela Vida (IUPV), an institute created about one year ago to help children and young people of Regência.

“I loved all of you! I was affected by the Jewish affection and spirituality. Today, when I woke up, I felt like reading the texts about water in the Old Testament!”

Hauley Valim, university professor and environmental and political activist in Regência.

“Only now in my moment of reflection before I go to bed I could stop and think of what happened in these last three days. I’d never had a close contact with the Jewish people and then I didn’t know what to expect from this experience.

I was surprised by such humanity and I’d like to thank you all for every minute of dedication, for every hug, every smile and affection I received. Everything encouraged me to work more and more for the children who live here. Our love for people will help us live in a better world, thank you from the bottom of my heart!

The doors of my house are open to all of you! A hug with love.“

Marcelo Vilela, President of IUPV, Regência

“It was good to leave my bubble and, even for just one weekend, help and listen to what the population had to say. One year has gone by and they were forgotten, media vehicles lost their interest in them, but they’re strong! And very strong! This experience put my life in perspective.

We have the obligation to help those in need, the way we can, by going there and working hard, or donating or just disseminating what we have seen there to increase visibility. We can’t let this situation to go unpunished!

I thank you for this opportunity and I hope we can keep transforming and improving the world!”

Júlia Herszenhut, Brasília

“I’ve been back to Israel for one day now.
Four days after the end of the seminar.
For three days,
We smiled and worked.
We were a reason of joy,
We were happy too!
For three days,
Judaism and social actions were one thing only.
From Kabalat Shabbat to Havdalah,
Two days of soul elevation.
A soul that felt a connection with the place,
A soul that connected with me and you,
A soul that questioned about what?
And the answer came from the importance of Tikkun Olam
For three days,
The waters dirtied by Samarco became sweat from the work for Casa Rosa.
A partnership between the WUPJ and Jewish Agency, with the support of Hillel, and Youth movements Habonim Dror, Hashomer Hatzair, Chazit Hanoar...
Inspired by leader Hauley Valim, thank you so much!
I hope we have more actions like this one!”

Rodrigo Baumworcel, Jerusalem

“Thank you for this opportunity to participate as a representative of CICAPI (Israeli Congregation from Espírito Santo) in the seminar organized by the WUPJ. The event was very important to understand the challenges of Regência. In addition, the contribution of the group was intense in the reconstruction of an educational and leisure place for local population. This experience was incredible, it touched our hearts.”

Blima Fux, Vitória

 Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year






An interesting coincidence: the celebration of Hanukkah 5777 started Christmas Eve and ended on New Year’s Eve. Many families and friends from other religions joined to celebrate the festive dates, lighting up Hanukkah candles. In the WUPJ congregations, these activities were also well celebrated.

Good humor was present in Hanukkah messages sent by WUPJ congregations worldwide.

Rabbi Marcelo Polakoff and Monsignor Pedro Torres, members of the Interfaith Committee for Peace, in Cordoba, Argentina, made an English version for a video that was a big hit in social media in 2015, but in Spanish version.

Check the video:

Spanish version (2015):

The children made the difference in the message recorded by Professor Joshua Holo, from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, located in Los Angeles, CA.

Chanukkah candle at the Town-Hall in Biobío – Concepción, Chile

The National Office for Religious Affairs linked to the Office of the General Secretary Ministry of the Presidency delivered a document entitled the “Ethics for Dialogue in Democratic Interreligious Coexistence” of the Council for Interreligious Advisor..

 Special Kabalat Shabbat in Porto Alegre for the installation of Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski
An exciting ceremony was held on December 16, 2016 at SIBRA – Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência for the installation of Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski, who was recently ordained in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Daniel Weiss Vilhordo, President of SIBRA, thanked the Israeli Congregation of Minas Gerais for allowing Rabbi Uri Lam to travel from Belo Horizonte to Porto Alegre for the ceremony.

“Thank you for the support we’ve always had from the WUPJ and, even with the tight budgets of each community, I guess we have to invest in mobility and inter-visitation actions,” he said.

The synagogue was full of attendees and had the presence of representatives from Jewish entities located in Rio Grande do Sul and from the local interfaith dialog group, as well as Porto Alegre Mayor José Fortunati.

Miriam Vasserman, Vice President of WUPJ-LA, lit up the Shabbat candles and made a touching speech, showing the connection between SIBRA and Progressive Judaism, and its relation with Rabbi Guershon,” concluded the President of SIBRA.

 President of WUPJ-LA discusses ideas for the community in Recife
Raul Gottlieb, President of WUPJ-LA, visited the Cetro Israelita de Pernambuco (CIP), Recife, where he had the opportunity to present suggestions to strengthen the links between the WUPJ and the community, including the creation of a course on Jewish religion and culture. Recife has the oldest synagogue in the Americas and South Hemisphere - Kahal Zur Israel – which is a mandatory visit to all Jewish people worldwide, but especially to those living in this region.
 Embracing diversity

Hermano Wrobel, President of ACIB - Associação Cultural Israelita de Brasília (Israeli Cultural Association of Brasilia), participated in a meeting held by the Associação Brasileira de Famílias Homoafetivas (Brazilian Association of Homosexual Families) to analyze the position of religious manifestations about the theme of homosexualism.

“It was good to present the position of Reform Judaism. I compared the orthodox position that literally interprets what is written in Torah to a more contemporaneous reform view that respects diversity, is inclusive, has homosexual rabbis and promotes same-sex unions,” said Wrobel.
 New headquarters in Ceará and Rio de Janeiro
The Israeli Society of Ceará re-inaugurated the Noble Room, with a community dinner after Kabalat Shabbat on December 16, 2016.

Thanks to the donation of a property, ARI-RJ, in Rio de Janeiro, announced a new center in Ipanema, a district in the south area of Rio de Janeiro with a larger number of Jews, which may be inaugurated in 2019. With this new center, ARI-RJ will perform its activities in Botafogo and Ipanema, offering more alternatives of Jewish cultural and religious activities to the Jewish population living in Rio de Janeiro.

The WUPJ Latin America congratulates the ARI and SIC on these important progress, which will undoubtedly reinforce the presence of Reform Judaism in Fortaleza and Rio.

ARI-RJ elects new lay leadership board

On December 18, 2016 new board members of ARI-RJ were elected for 2017-2018. We wish new President Flavio Kosminsky; Tamar Messe, First Vice President and Eduardo Rabinovitch, Second Vice President, successful term and community services.

Property donation ceremony
 IDEL Foundation, linked with the Jewish Foundation, is awarded in Argentina

DAIA – Delegación de Asociaciones Iraelitas Argentinas (Delegation of Israeli Associations in Argentina), a political representation of Jewish community in Argentina, granted the 2016 DAIA award to IDEL Foundation in the category of solidarity, after unanimous voting.

Represented in the award ceremony by its President Susy Perelman, the IDEL Foundation, linked with the Jewish Foundation, promotes the inclusion of physically disabled people in the labor market.

The DAIA award has five categories: science and technology, journalism and communications, human rights, inclusion, and solidarity.

“The purpose is to distinguish institutions and companies that work for a fairer and equalitarian society,” said Airel Cohen Sabban, President of DAIA.

 WUPJ-LA welcomed in Vitoria
Representatives from the WUPJ-LA who participated in the first Seminar Tikun Olam for the youth in Latin America were welcomed at the CICAPI, in Vitoria, Espírito Santo, Brazil. They exchanged experiences in two opportunities: in a special breakfast and a pizza dinner. The local community is in development phase and has created connections with the WUPJ. New partnerships are planned for 2017.