Issue # 58 – April 2012 / Nissan - Iyar 5772

 Torah from around the world - WUPJ

Dvar Torah for Second day of Pesach // Eliyahu's Cup
by Rabbi Michel Schlesinger

Rabbi of Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP), São Paulo, Brazil

In his book, How to Cure a Fanatic, Israeli novelist Amos Oz tells that his "wise grandma" explained the difference between a Jew and a Christian. "Look," she said, "Christians believe the Messiah had been here and will certainly come back someday. Jews claim that the Messiah is yet to come. There already was," she continued, "so much rage, persecution, bloodshed and hatred about it ... Why? If the Messiah will come and say 'Hi, it's so good to see you again', the Jews will have to acknowledge their mistake. But if otherwise, the Messiah comes and says 'Nice to meet you', the whole Christian world will have to apologize to Jews. Between our days and that moment to come, just live and let live". Read more...

 Buenos Aires: topics and guests have been defined

The steering committee of the 4th Conference of the Jewish Communities in Latin America already announced the topics of the main plenary sessions of the conference and confirmed the presence of two important speakers: the Rabbis Stephen Fuchs and Michael Marmur.

The conference will be conducted by the WUPJ Latin America, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on August 8th to the 12th, and the main theme in "The New Paths of Judaism in Latin America". This is a unique opportunity to share experiences and the knowledge developed in the various Jewish communities in the region.

The program of the event includes four plenary sessions: "The role of the Rabbi in Jewish tradition, up to the modern day"; "Following the prophetic view in Israel"; "Assimilation, inter-religious marriages, the changes in the Jewish family – what can the congregations do to guarantee Jewish continuity?"; and "The wisdom of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and his message for our times".

Lecturers – The conference will be attended by Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs, president of the WUPJ since the beginning of 2011. Before taking on this role, he was Senior Rabbi of the Beth Israel Congregation in West Hartford, Connecticut since 1997 and Adjunct Professor at the Hartford Seminary. His curriculum includes positions in congregations in Nashville, Tennessee and Columbia, Maryland.

Rabbi Michael Marmur, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, also confirmed his participation. Previously, he served as Dean of the same institution in Jerusalem. In recent years he has taught courses in Theology, Homiletics, and Pluralistic Jewish Education.

 The vision of Reform / Progressive Judaism on the legal world

The IRAC – Israel Religious Action Center is the legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel and is dedicated to combating religious intolerance and inequalities of all nature in Israel. It operates based on
the vision of the prophets of the Tanach who emphasize the urgent need of society to care for the fragile and impose social justice. According to our prophets a religion that does not admit these objectives in a central manner
is futile and empty and does not tread the paths of God.

It has been led for the past ten years by the charismatic Anat Hoffman – who has already been to Brazil for our regional conference in 2008 – and who is also leader of the Women of the Wall, a group of women committed to obtaining space equal to that of men in one of the most symbolic locations for Judaism, the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

In this period, the IRAC obtained important achievements and its work is changing the face of Judaism in Israel and of the state of Israel as a whole.

The IRAC publishes a weekly newsletter, and all those concerned with the survival of Israel as a democratic and egalitarian Jewish state that respects all of the cultural and religious aspects of our people, recommend it. To register and learn more about IRAC check the website

 The history of Brazil and contemporary Judaism

Raul Golinelli/Futura Press

Recently, information related to Judaism came from two important locations within the history of Brazil. In Salvador, Bahia, in the Pelourinho neighborhood, an area that was supposedly a mikvah was found in a building that was constructed in the 15th or 16th century. The building is presently a hotel. The importance of this discovery, if confirmed, is the fact that the first synagogue in the country is from the 17th century and located in Recife.

In the city Petropolis, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, which had an important role at the time of the establishment of the royal Portuguese family in Brazil in the 19th century, the Pnei Or synagogue held a special Kabbalat Shabbat in March with the presence of Rabbi Dario Bialer and the chazzan André Nudelman, from the ARI in Rio de Janeiro.

The Pnei Or is a small congregation that is affiliating itself to the WUPJ – to which the ARI is already affiliated – and the closeness between the two communities is an enriching experience for both.

 Sixth Edition of the Lashir Benefesh was a success

The Lashir Benefesh – Singing with the Soul meeting, which had the support of the WUPJ Latin America, brought together dozens of participants in March at the Congregação Israelita Mineira congregation in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais.

The Lashir Benefesh is a group that travels around and that brings together Chazanim professionals as well as sympathizers to participate in training activities as well reflect on Chazanim and Jewish culture.

The sixth edition of the event was organized by Phillip Manuard and discussed topics related to repertoire, musical scores, rhythm, the transformation of the written text to the spoken language, techniques related to voice and the rest of the body, group experience and the study of Chazanim who were important in the past.

The next meeting will be held at the ARI congregation in Rio de Janeiro on March 10, 11 and 12, 2013.

 Devarim Magazine

The ARI – Religious Israeli Association of Rio de Janeiro – is going to launch at the Kabbalat Shabbat on April 13 the issue number 17 of the Devarim magazine. The copies for subscriber and members of the ARI will be posted right after Pesach.

The publication is exclusively dedicated to Jewish thinking, broadly addressing religious, cultural and political themes. The Devarim proves once again that Progressive Brazilian Judaism is creative, conscious, committed and thus guarantor of the continuity of our people.

The magazine is in its seventh year and is distributed to a growing interested public throughout Brazil and abroad. The smashing majority of its texts are produced exclusively for its readers in Brazil. In this manner, reading the magazine never leaves a sense of "déjà vu". The reader may not agree with what he/she is reading, may think the style is poor or deficient, but the work is always innovative and creative.


To receive a free copy of the Devarim, just send an email with your name and address to The institutions that wish to receive the magazine to distribute among its members can also do so sending an email where they must add the quantity of members they have.

Contributions to support the magazine are also welcome. If you wish to do this, also send an email in this regard.

Finally, note that the magazine enters its seventh year precisely on Friday the 13th. There is a subliminal message in this: Judaism is social responsibility; it is taking on for itself the commitment of building, in partnership with God, a better world. Numerology not associated to a prophetic message is nothing more than superstition.

 How is Reform Judaism different in Latin America

Second year student at the Rabbinical course of the HUC-JIR, in Cincinnati, Ohio, United states, Beni Wajnberg from Rio de Janeiro, writes about the challenges and peculiarities of Reform Judaism in the region.

See the text by clicking on this link.


World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America