Issue # 53 - October 2011 / Tishrei / Cheshvan 5772

 Outstanding Moments of the High Holy Days

Rosh Hashaná and Iom Kipur are holidays that unite a large number of people in the Jewish communities throughout the world. The entities that compose the WUPJ-Latin America celebrated the arrival of 5772 with special activities, joy and reflection.

The collective blowing of the shofar brought cheers from all those who were present at the end of Yom Kippur at the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP) in São Paulo. Before the ceremony, the Rabbis encouraged the members to bring their shofarot, ensuring the involvement and participation of the community. The result was emotional and can be seen here.

From Porto Alegre to the world: the Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência (Sibra) transmitted the ceremonies of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur through the internet, connecting people who were unable to go to the synagogue, such as the elderly and people living in small towns. The initiative had repercussions in different regions of Brazil and the world - from the Vale dos Sinos (state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil) to Montreal, Canada. Starting with this experience, the Sibra began to transmit the Shabbat religious service, always on Fridays at 7:00 pm Brasilia standard time, through the site.

In Fortaleza, close to 90 people were present at the Beit Yaacov synagogue of the Sociedade Israelita of Ceará. Accompanied by a violin and a guitar, the services were conducted by the Chazanim Marcus Strozberg and Pablo Schejtman. From the Congregação Israelita Mineira, the chazzan Phillipe Manuard also participated in the ceremonies and blew the shofar next to Saulo Tavares.

In Florianópolis, the Associação Israelita Catarinense conducted a ceremony on the eve
of Rosh Hashanah at the Pousada dos Sonhos hotel, on the ocean front with the presence
of the Chazzan David Leo and the musician Marcello Frenkiel, both from São Paulo.
After the religious ceremony there was a dinner for over 70 people.

In Ribeirão Preto, interior of the state of São Paulo, a "communitarian" style Rosh Hashanah ceremony was held with all of the members of the Sociedade Israelita de Ribeirão Preto (SIRP). "The community is small, so we got together to make it easier for everybody", commented Moacir Braun, president of the SIRP.

The High Holy Days was also memorable in the small communities that make up the Asociación Israelita de las Pampas (AIP), with headquarters in Coronel Suaréz, in the province of Buenos Aires, in Argentina. Despite the difficulties, including finding a location where they could meet, close to 400 people participated in the religious service in Paraná, conducted in a basketball court. In Posada, over 90 members of the Jewish community participated in the prayers, with special emphasis on the Havdalá at the end of Yom Kippur, registered on a video which can be seen here. In Coronel Suárez, the ceremonies brought together families from nearby towns, with emphasis on the institution's 105th anniversary, which will be celebrated in November with the inauguration of the "Monument to the Holocaust".

 Torah - from around the world Project

The Rabbi Michel Schlesinger, from the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP), congregation affiliated to the WUPJ, participated in September in the "Torah - from around the world" project with a commentary for Rosh Hashanah entitled "Tekiah, Shevarim, Teruah".

The WUPJ's "Torah - from around the world" project has the objective of presenting visions and interpretations of the weekly portions of the Torah from religious leaders of communities with ties to Progressive Judaism throughout the world.

"When I was invited by the WUPJ to write a commentary about Rosh Hashanah to be sent to all of the progressive communities throughout the world, I was very excited. I think that this type of initiative reinforces the feeling of proximity among Jews from different parts of the globe that share a similar view regarding their Judaism", stated the Rabbi Schlesinger.

 WUPJ leaders visit liberal communities in Latin America

Important leader of the WUPJ international will be present at the meeting of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI-BOG) that will be held in November in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The chairman Mike Grabiner; the president of the institution, Rabi Steven 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 that tries to encourage activities within the congregations in Latin America.


Also on the agenda are various meetings with the leaders of the local affiliated communities and with the steering committee of the 4th Conference of the Jewish Communities in Latin America - which will be held in Buenos Aires on August 8th to the 13th, 2012. At these meetings the president of the WUPJ-Latin America, Miriam Vasserman, will also be present as well as the vice-president Raul Gottlieb and the executive secretary Berta Zylberstajn.

The representatives of the WUPJ will take advantage of the opportunity to visit other progressive communities in the region, including those in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

 Scholar in Residence Project - visit from the Rabbi Roberto Graetz

In November the WUPJ-Latin America will promote the visit of the Rabbi Roberto Graetz, from the USA, who will conduct activities in the Brazilian communities of Manaus, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Porto Alegre. Graetz is at the Temple Isaiah in Lafayette, CA since 1991, after having served as Rabbi in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil during almost 20 years. Presently, he is vice-president of the North American Board of the WUPJ and is a member of the Executive Committee of the North American Board of Rabbis for Human Rights.

 WUPJ Statement on the Release of Gilad Shalit

The international Jewish community celebrated in October, the soldier Gilad Shalit back home after five years hijacked. Below is the statement of WUPJ released on the occasion of the release of Shalit

The World Union for Progressive Judaism, representing 1.8 million Jews around the world is delighted to welcome Gilad Shalit back home to Israel and his family. After over five years of captivity the nightmare is finally over and the WUPJ wishes Gilad Shalit and his family and friends an easy passage back to normality.

Many countries and numerous people were involved in the negotiations that lead to Shalit's release and in this spirit of co-operation may we pray that goodwill will be generated for future stability in the region.

In this time of joy, however, we must pause to ponder the enormous prices Israel paid to secure Gilad Shalit's release. Our thoughts turn to the families of the victims of some of the terrorists who have been released in this prisoner exchange. The WUPJ understands their misgivings but we hope that this symbolic gesture can outweigh their fears and concerns.

May we see in the New Year with hope and a new beginning.

Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs
President - World Union for Progressive Judaism

Michael Grabiner
Chair - World Union for Progressive Judaism

In addition to this statement, Rabbi Stephen Fuchs joined in a statement made by leaders of the North American reform Jewish community:

Every bee that brings the honey
Needs a sting to be complete
And we all must learn to taste the bitter with the sweet.

These words from Israeli singer Nomi Shemer express our emotions today upon the release of Gilad Shalit.We shall always hold dear those whose lives were cut short by those released from prison today even as we rejoice with the Shalit family, Israel and the Jewish people for the return of Gilad.

Rabbi Eric Yoffie
President - URJ (Union for Reform Judaism)

Rabbi David Ellenson
President - HUC-JIR (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)

Rabbi Steven Fox
Chief Executive - CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis)

Rabbi Daniel Allen
Executive Director - ARZA (Association of Reform Zionists of America)

Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs
President - WUPJ (World Union for Progressive Judaism)

 Activities of the Outreach Program

Assistant to the Rabbinate of the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP) and a student at the Hebrew Union College (HUC), Uri Lam participated recently in two activities of the Reach Program, which provides assistance to small Jewish communities in São Paulo and Brazil. In Florianopolis, with the support of the Conib (Israeli Confederation of Brazil), Uri Lam participated in a Kabbalat Shabbat and a Shacharit service on Saturday morning at the Associação Israelita Catarinense (AIC). "It was a rare opportunity to read the parasha of the week directly from the Sefer Torah", stated Lam, who also participated in a pre Yom Kippur activity with a discussion about the main prayers and specially about the reading of the Book of Jonah - An intense preparation for the Yamim Noraim.

(L-R) Mauro Ostronoff, Uri Lam, Berta Zylberstajn,
Marcelo W. Secemski and Branca Kives Ostronoff

The book was also the theme for a lecture by Lam in Santos, on the coast of the state of São Paulo, at an activity organized in partnership with the FISESP (Israeli Federation of the State of São Paulo) at the Israeli Brazilian Cultural Center (CCBS) in Santos. Present at this even were the president of the CCBS, Branca Kives Ostronoff and its vice-president Ricardo A. Schmitman, as well as the president of the synagogue Bet Jacob, Jaques Zonis among other people from the local community. The WUPL-Latin America was represented by its executive secretary Berta Zylberstajn and the FISESP by the executive assistant, Marcelo W. Secemski.

 Catholic-Jewish Dialogue

The Rabbi Michel Schlesinger, from the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP), represented the CONIB (Israeli Confederation of Brazil) at the XVII National Assembly of the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue, held in Curitiba, state of Paraná.

Regarding the theme of the meeting, "Judaism and Catholicism, challenges in connection with scientific advancement", Schlesinger stated that, through a discussion on bioethics and religions, the convention was a tool in the process of bringing together the Catholic and Jewish communities.

The Rabbi Pablo Berman, from the Comunidade Israelita do Paraná, also participated in the meeting, interpreting biblical texts from the Jewish and Catholic perspectives, together with the priest Jaime Sánchez Bosch. For Berman, each tradition has a different way of knowing God and dialogue only happens thanks to the singularity if each religion and its historical and cultural richness.

For the professor and specialist on Judaism, Antonio Carlos Costa Coelho, one of the event coordinators, both religions move towards overcoming a separation of two thousand years: "There is an 80% similarity and a 20% difference between Catholics and Jews, and that is the difference that must be valued because it enriches each of the communities".

 Convention of the UJCL in Guadalajara

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

The event brings together the main Progressive, Liberal and Conservative Jewish institutions in the whole region and also 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.

More information on the city of Guadalajara and on how to participate in the event are available at this link.

 Buenos Aires: a city that breathes Judaism

The choice of the capital of Argentina to host the 4th Conference of Jewish Communities in Latin America reveals a city that has historical connections with Judaism and a living and thriving today Jewish community, with religious and cultural activities.

Professor Gershon Kwasniewski, religious leader of SIBRA - Israeli Religious and Cultural Society from Porto Alegre, Brazil, organized in 2006 an itinerary to visit the "sights" of Jewish Buenos Aires. Argentine-born, naturalized Brazilian and living in Porto Alegre since 1996, Gershon points out some places.

Temple at Libertad street, built in 1932

Visiting the square where the building of the Embassy of Israel destroyed in 1992 by a terrorist attack, is obviously a remarkable moment of the ride. At the site, 29 trees were planted in memory of the victims of the attack. Emotion even takes care of the visitors in the new AMIA - Asociación Mutual Israeli Argentina, institution also attacked by terrorists in 1994 in one of the greatest tragedies in the history of Argentina, which left 85 dead.

Joyful moments were also part of the itinerary to know the "Jewish Buenos Aires," as the first synagogue in Argentina founded in 1932, still working, shopping and the Abasto Shopping center , where there is the only kosher McDonald's restaurant in Latin America.


There is a lot more to know about Buenos Aires. Participate in the 4th Conference of Jewish Communities in Latin America is a good opportunity to give these and other locations around the city. Save the date: from 8 to 13 August 2012 in Buenos Aires. Follow the information in upcoming issues of WUPJ Latin America News for details about registration and program.

Memorial created
by Israeli artist
Yakov Agam
and intelligent building,
today houses the new AMIA

Sculpture formed with nine columns,
as the visitor moves appear
new images, including symbols
as the Jewish Star of David.

World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America