Issue # 61 – August 2012 / Av - Elul 5772

Special issue - Buenos Aires 2012 

Buenos Aires 2012

Conference of the Jewish
Communities in the Americas

was a success !

The debate about the future and the dilemmas that are a part of the everyday life of Progressive Judaism in contemporary society was the main topic of the 4th Conference of the Jewish Communities in Latin America, which brought together, on August 8th to the 12th, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, close to 300 representatives of various entities from the host country and also from Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States and Israel.

The meeting was organized by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), together with the Argentinean institutions AIP (Israeli Association of the Pampas); CIRA – Libertad Temple; NCI Emanuel Community; Judaica Foundation; and Mishkan – Center of Jewish Spirituality.

 Authorities attended the event

The conference had over 40 lecturers in 15 panels and four plenary sessions that discussed religious studies as well as topics such as the relationship of young people with Israel; the anti-Israel movements; the equilibrium between tradition and modernity; innovation in the religious services within the synagogue; the vision of Avraham Yeoshua Heschel; Zionism and the social and political panorama in Israel.

In all of the sessions the topics were addressed with respect to the Jewish values and traditions and also with regards to their importance for the concrete Jewish experience nowadays. The combination of these two dimensions resulted in an environment with intense involvement from all of the participants.

The conference began with an emotional celebration of the delivery of the Sefer Torah, donation of Mr. David Igdaloff and his wife Nilma founders of the Asociación de las Pampas, to the Associação Israelita do Ceará, received by Mr. Pablo Shejtman.

Click to watch the conference best moments: Link.

Following the Torah scroll donation ceremony, some pronouncements were made by Michael Grabiner WUPJ world chair, Miriam Vasserman, regional President and Ricardo Rotholtz, president of the organizing committee.

Michael Grabiner

Miriam Vasserman

Ricardo Rotholtz

Rabbi Joel Oseran, Vice President of international development of the WUPJ and Raul C. Gottlieb, Vice President of the WUPJ Latin America also addressed welcome messages.

Rabbi Joel Oseran

Raul C. Gottlieb

The opening of the conference was attended by authorities such as the Subsecretary of Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism of Buenos Aires, Claudio Avruj representing the local government; the Israeli ambassador in Argentina, Daniel Gazit; the president of the DAIA (Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas) umbrella institution of the Jewish community, Aldo Donzis.

Rabbi Marcelo Polakoff, President of the Latin American Rabbinical Assembly, of the Conservative movement, emphasized the importance of integration and joint efforts among the liberal movements in the region. Present, also as lecturer, was Dr. David Breakstone, Vice Chairman of the WZO (World Zionist Organization).

In the first plenary session, Rabbi Michael Marmur of the HUC-JIR and Rabbi Sergio Bergman, of the Judaica Foundation, spoke about the evolution of the role of the rabbi in Jewish tradition.

Rabbi Michael Marmur

Rabbi Sergio Bergman

Rabbi Stephen L. Fuchs

mentioned Rabbis and Steve Breuslauer

 Essential support of various entities

The organizers of the conference considered it essential to have the support and presence of representatives of various entities of the Jewish community in Argentina and Latin America such as AMIA, DAIA, OSA, Chazon Arteinu, Avoda, B'nei Brith, CAMI, CJL – Latin American Jewish Congress, CONIB/Brazil, FISESP/Brazil and UJCL – Union of Jewish Congregations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

 Religious Services: important moments of the conference

The religious services held during the conference were moments filled with great emotions for the participants where they were all able to perceive their common roots and traditions. The religious services also reinforced the feeling of fraternization, integration and exchange among the various institutions and their representatives.

On Friday night, the Kabalat Shabbat was held at the Libertad Temple, first synagogue in Argentina, declared a National Historical Monument. The ceremony was conducted by Rabbi Sergio Bergman who honored Jerry Tanembaum, President of the Yad B'Yad Task Force of the WUPJ, for the contributions to the Judaica Foundation.

Afterwards, a festive dinner expressed the contagious happiness of the conference participants, who in a vibrant manner showed all of the energy of the Latin American "beat". The musical presentation was conducted by Diego Rubinsztein of the band Zamaj.

On Saturday, the Shabbat service was conducted by Rabbi Gabriel Mazer, representing Rabbi Ruben Nisenbom, honored at the occasion, at the Mishkan Center of Jewish Spirituality.

The Havdala, at the Marriott Hotel, was led by Rabbi Joel Oseran, Vice President of International development of the WUPJ, with special emphasis on the attendance of young conference participants and of the Judaica Foundation, coordinated by Adrian Fada, student of the Marshall T. Mayer Rabbinical Seminar in Buenos Aires and by the Chazanim Alexandre Edelstein and Diego Rubinsztein.


 History and debates about religion were emphasized

Before the beginning of the official conference program, two other activities involving a part of the participating public were conducted: a historical trip and a meeting with religious leaders. A group of 35 people from Argentina, Brazil, the United States and the United Kingdom went on an optional trip to the Jewish colonies in the Entre Rios Province, in the interior of Argentina. Organized and accompanied by David Igdaloff, president of the AIP (Asociación Israelita de los Pampas) and by Abel Evelson of the Lamroth Hakol Community, the trip presented historical details about the local Jewish community and included a lecture by Professor Paul Liptz, Director of Education at the Anita Saltz International Education Cent of the WUPJ in Jerusalem. To access the LINK.
Participants at the Synagogue in Dominguez

Rabbinic Kallah participants
A Rabbinical Kallah (study conference) was held on August 8th and 9th in Buenos Aires at the NCI Emanu El Community, under the leadership of Rabbi Michael Marmur. The meeting, exclusive for rabbis and rabbinate students, had the doctrine of Abraham Joshua Heschel as its central theme. Besides studying, the 35 religious leaders present had the opportunity to debate their ideas and fraternize with colleagues from different places in Latin America and from other regions such as Europe and North America.

 Contemporary Judaism and the future

At the conference closing, Rabbi Michael Marmur conducted an excellent presentation with the topic "God in search of man". Marmur is Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, and is responsible for the New York, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Jerusalem campuses. At the lecture, he spoke about the ideas and teachings of the rabbi and philosopher Abraham Joshua Heschel, which combine a profound respect and appreciation for the Jewish tradition with an understanding of the pressures and challenges that the modern Jewish existence faces.

The conference ended with a great fraternization between the attending public, organizers and volunteers, all with the desire to continue the debates and think of the future. The next meeting – of international scope – already has a set date: Connections 2013 WUPJ 36th International Biennial Conference on May 1st to the 5th in Jerusalem, Israel.

 Save the Date!

World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America