Issue # 51 – August 2011 / Av-Elul 5771 

 Buenos Aires Conference has the first Israeli lecturer confirmed

The steering committee of the 4th Conference of the Jewish Communities in Latin America, which will occur from August 8th to the 13th, 2012 in Buenos Aires, had another meeting last month with the leaders of the WUPJ Latin America to discuss preparations for the event. The conference is being prepared very carefully and the committee has already confirmed the name of one of the main guests: the Rabbi Michael Marmur.

Marmur is vice president for Academic Affairs at the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion. Previously, he served as Dean of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of religion in Jerusalem. In recent years he has taught courses in Theology, Homiletics and Pluralistic Jewish Education.

Rabbi Michael Marmur
 WUPJ leaders visit liberal communities in Latin America

The meeting of the Board of Governors da Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI-BOG) that will be held in November in Argentina will be attended by important leaders of the WUPJ international. Already confirmed are the chairman Mike Grabiner; the president of the institution, Rabbi Stephen Fuchs; Rabbi Joel Oseran, vice president for international development of the WUPJ and Stephen Breslauer, honorary member of the executive board of the WUPJ and co-chairman of the Yad B' Yad Task Force, group that encourages activities in the congregations in Latin America. The representatives of the WUPJ will take advantage of the opportunity to visit other progressive communities in the region, including São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

 A new look on the internet

The WUPJ Latin America has renovated its website, with the objective of increasing the information available, with a section for news, a list of the affiliated institutions and texts that transmit our values on Progressive Judaism.

The electronic address is still and the content is available in Portuguese, Spanish and English. The new look was developed by the designer Rogerio Weikersheimer (, who is responsible for the area of graphic design of the communications team of the WUPJ Latin America.

 Seminar participants emphasize Jewish experience and learning

Read the testimony of the representatives of the institutions affiliated to the WUPJ Latin America who participated in the "The Bergman Seminar for Progressive Jewish Educators" during the month of July, in Israel, that was promoted by the "The Anita Saltz International Education Center".

"The course was intense, both with regard to content, and to the experience and methodology. Some classes, such as history, literature, or Tanach, were conducted in open spaces, at the locations where the events described actually happened. The study transformed itself, thus, into part of ourselves. Another important aspect was the exchange among the participating professors themselves, who came from different places around the world. For me it was a great opportunity for our school to open up a window to the world, since this will be a continuous opportunity for an exchange of ideas, materials and experiences with these communities" , Miriam Gerber, coordinator of the Lafer School of the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP).

"The trip involved a tour through places in Israel, with an emphasis on different time periods, approaches from different areas of knowledge (literature, archeology, art), and with analyses of different sources (biblical texts, Talmudic literature and the contemporary national reality). We reflected on the position of Israel in the development of the curriculum for teaching institutions and I share some thoughts. Israel is an integral part of the experience of the development of the Jewish identity which is offered by the schools. Israel is a powerful symbol that the schools must use to become Jewish institutions. Projects on the Jewish entity will help students learn who they are", Ruth Kraselnik, from the Kol Shearith Israel in Panama.

"In my opinion, the most important aspects of the seminars were three specific things that made the encounter more interesting and significant. First of all, the great masters, madrichim, who had so much knowledge. The second most important thing and that made us "feel" everything we learned was being in the place where everything happened, learning, studying in each place, each historical event, each character. Finally, the interaction with our group of educators from around the world, the sharing of different opinions made the seminar much more complete and rich", Eva Romarowski, professor of Jewish Studies at the Arlene Fern Community School, from the Fundación Judaica in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"One of the most important aspects was the possibility of exchanging experiences with the Jewish educators from the various participating countries, as well as the discussions about the present challenges in Jewish teaching, especially outside Israel. During the closing of the seminar, a lunch was held with the presence of the WUPJ leaders, where we discussed various aspects of the progressive movement and Jewish teaching. The WUPJ representatives made themselves available to provide support for the communities and schools, be it by providing informative materials, or by creating permanent forums for exchange of experiences.

Participating in the Bergman Seminar provided me with a much better view of Israel, its contrasts, its history, the Zionism. Thus it permitted me to have much more clarity regarding the challenges that exist for Jewish education outside Israel, including the strengthening of Liberal Judaism", Selma Rodrigues de Castilho, coordinator of the educational programs at the Associação Religiosa Israelita do Rio de Janeiro (ARI-RJ).

 The work of a WUPJ leader in favor of the Jewish people is recognized

Jerry Tanenbaum, chairman of the Yad B'Yad Task Force of the WUPJ, responsible for supporting actions in Latin America since 2002, recently received the Serut L'Am award from the hands of Rabbi David Ellenson, president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), which instituted the award to recognize the services rendered to the Jewish people by those who were honored by the award. The award ceremony was held at the Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati, Ohio (USA). The award was given to six people, among them the singer Debbie Friedman (z'l) and Ilene Stanley Gold.

Tanenbaum was specifically chosen because of his work in the Yad B'Yad Task Force and his history in the WUPJ, where he has been a part of various committees since 1988. Another project in which he is strongly involved is the Shomrei Torah, created with the objective of asking those congregations with many Torahs to make a donation to a congregation that does not have the opportunity of acquiring their own Torah.

"The Shomrei Torah program is a wonderful service that he has conducted with our people", stated Rabbi David Ellenson.

(l-r) Rabbi David Ellenson, president of HUC-JIR giving the prize to Jerry Tanenbaum, chairman of Yad B'Yad Task Force. Rabbi Gary Zola, executive director of American Jewish Archives.

 WUPJ supports protests in Israel

IMPJ - Sukkat Tzedek in Tel Aviv

The whole world followed the news about the demonstrations of thousands of Israelis who went out on the streets in the last few months to protest against the cost of living. The WUPJ, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) and the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) officially supported the protests.

The WUPJ issued a statement to all of its members, stating that "Upwards of 300,000 Israelis, young and old, poor and comfortable, religious and secular, right and left have united in the call that Israel must not just be about the establishment of a Jewish State, but that the state of the Jews living there (as well as all who choose to live there) must be dignified and affordable. We are witnessing, not a political divide, but a demand for social justice".

The letter, titled "Listening to the Voices of the People in Israel: Reflections on Tisha B'Av", was signed by the main leaders of the WUPJ and be read in full at this link (in English).

 "Torah - from around the world" Project

The WUPJ began the project "Torah from around the world" with the objective of presenting the vision and interpretation of religious leaders from Progressive Judaism throughout the world regarding the weekly portions of the Torah.

"With this initiative, we are able to offer a global connection to all of our rabbis and scholars", stated Rabbi Rich Kirschen, director of the "The Anita Saltz International Education Center" and creator of the project.

According to him, "every week we will have a different professor unraveling the meaning and relevance of the parashah with modern texts on the perspective of Progressive Judaism".

Brazil – The religious leader of the Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência (SIBRA), Guershon Kwasniewski, from Porto Alegre, wrote a commentary about the Devarim parashah in the month of August for the "Torah from around the world" project.

"It is good that people in other parts of the world know that we exist; nothing better than to do this with our own work. It is very good for our members to know and feel that they are a part of the WUPJ", stated Kwasniewski.

 Small communities in Argentina in the news

The Asociación Israelita de las Pampas (AIP), with headquarters in Coronel Suarez, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was founded in 2003 by a north American together with a team of professionals trained in various areas, has the objective of ensuring a support system for religious, educational and social activities for the Jewish families that live in regions where there is no community infrastructure available.

In March that year they organized the first meeting with representatives of small Jewish communities from the interior of the country. Delegations from Bahía Blanca, Bernasconi, Carhué, Coronel Pringles, General Pico, Pigüé, Rivera and Santa Rosa participated in the reunion. The meeting was a mark on the existence of the AIP.

The idea is to fulfill the specific needs of each individual, family or community, giving them the opportunity of becoming protagonists in the preservation and transmission of Jewish values. The growth of the AIP is constant and there are already over one thousand families from the interior of Argentina that participate in its activities.

 UJCL Convention celebrates bar-mitzvah taking adults into account

The Union of Jewish Congregations of Latin America and the Caribbean (UJCL) will host its 13th convention from January 25th to the 29th, 2012 in Guadalajara, Mexico. The theme of the meeting will be "Judaism for Adults - Complex Questions, Honest Answers".

The event brings together the main Jewish institutions from the progressive, liberal and Masorti movements in the region as well as representatives from the United States. Besides the WUPJ, the Joint Distribution Committee, the Latin American Jewish Congress, the B'nai B'rith and the Masorti Olami have confirmed their presence.

The convention intends to provide a space for reflection and exchange of experiences, so that all participants can share not only their projects, but also their challenges and dilemas. The organizers of the event reached an agreement with Copa Airlines that provides a 15% discount on the flights to Guadalajara or Mexico City during the period of the convention. To have a right to this discount, you have to provide the fair code C3592 (for flights to Guadalajara) and C3615 (for flights through Mexico city). The company's website is

The convention will he held at the NH Hotel and more information is available through the email:


 Devarim Magazine in its 15th. edicion

Issue number 15 of the Devarim magazine, published for the last five years by ARI – Rio de Janeiro, was launched at the beginning of the month of September. The magazine is dedicated to modern day Jewish thinking and is distributed freely to all those who send an email with their name, address and information regarding how they heard about the magazine to

The complete contents of all of the issues of the magazine can be consulted on the internet at the address

 Beutel Leadership Seminar – few spots left for 2012

There are only a few spots left for the 10th annual Beutel Seminar for Progressive Jewish Leadership, an important 10 day conference promoted by the WUPJ's Anita Saltz International Education Center in Israel, destined to promote progressive Jewish leadership. The seminar will be held from January 12th to the 23rd, 2012 at the headquarters of the WUPJ in Jerusalem.

The target audience of this conference is lay reform leaders and activist of the institutions affiliated to the WUPJ that are committed to working in their synagogues and communities in the following years. Besides developing leadership capabilities, the seminar offers the opportunity to study ancient texts and history, discuss current political and social issues and explore spiritual pathways within a Reform and Progressive Jewish context.

Candidates must be fluent in English and be recommended by a local rabbi. More information can be obtained at this link. Statements from participants of the 2010 seminar, including those from Latin America, show that it is worth participating in. Check it out at the link:

World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America