Issue # 70 – June 2013 / Tamuz 5773

 The Strength of Jewish education
The next edition of the "The Bergman Seminar for Progressive Jewish Educators", from July 4th to the 14th, in Israel, will bring together Jewish educators from the reform, progressive and liberal movements, with the theme "Creating Meaningful Connections". Communities from all over the world send their representatives to participate in classroom and text studies and visits to various sites where the content of the studies can be experienced and brought to life. In this edition, four participants from Latin America (Panama, Brazil and Argentina) will be present.

For more information by e-mail: and

 Prize values inclusion of disabled people in the Jewish community

The Arlene Fern Community School, of the Fundación Judaica, in Buenos Aires, is among the projects awarded the Ruderman Foundation Awards Disability Prizes this year and which were announced in the United States at the end of June. The award recognizes the innovative initiatives that enable the inclusion of disabled people in the Jewish community. Video Link

Also receiving the award were schools from Cape Town (South Africa) and from Israel that conduct differentiated activities in the classroom. Other projects that were recognized are from the synagogue in St. Louis (USA), which helps young people with disabilities celebrate their bar-mitzvah, and a Maryland bakery which provides professional opportunities for people with developmental difficulties.

The award was featured in major media of the Jewish community in the United States and in Israel, as you can see in the links below:

Ruderman prize recognizes organizations with programs, services for disabled

Jerusalem Post
Winners of 2013 Ruderman Prize in Disability announced

N.Y. Jewish Week
The Ruderman Prize Winners: A Bakery, Schools
And A Shul
 Rabbi Sergio Bergman gets space in Argentinean politics
The Haaretz, one of the most important newspapers in Israel, published at the end of June an interview with the Argentinean Rabbi Sergio Bergman, highlighting his political activity and the possibility of being elected to the National Legislature in the elections that will be held in October.

In the introduction, the article recalls the controversy two years ago, when Bergman won a seat in the Buenos Aires city council, whether the title "rabbi" could appear on the voting ballot. The local court did not allow it because it could benefit him in the election.

Rabbi Sergio Bergman

Now, he has gained more space in the PRO, opposition party to President Cristina Kirchner, and occupies first place on the list of the party's candidates for the national parliamentary election. For Bergman, "It's a great honor for me, a big challenge and responsibility. To take part in politics on the national level is to be a part of Argentinean history as well as Jewish history, of integration in society".

Among other topics covered – such as the agreement between Argentina and Iran restricting investigations on the attempt on Amia in 1994 and the time when Bergman studied in Israel – the Rabbi also spoke about how the Israeli government and the Chief Rabbinate treat the reform and conservative movements. According to him, "The Israeli government cannot maintain its current positions, to deny or delay full recognition for the Conservative and Reform movements. There has been progress, but it's not enough. Orthodoxy has to preserve its rights, but it doesn't have the right to impose anything on others' liberty".
 An important representative of Progressive Jewish leadership in Israel visits Latin America
The executive director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), Rabbi Gilad Kariv, will visit Jewish communities affiliated to the WUPJ in Latin America in August. The agenda is still being prepared and should include participation in religious services and debates on Reform Judaism in Brazil and Argentina. Main leader of the reform movement in Israel since 2009, Kariv was ordained at the Hebrew Union College and also has a Law Degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, also having studied in the USA and dedicated part of his academic career to Jewish philosophy.

 Reach Project: Online Judaism in the South of Brazil

The Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência de Porto Alegre – SIBRA, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, will soon begin judaism courses on the internet with members of Jewish communities from the other states in the South of Brazil: Parana and Santa Catarina.

The idea came about in April when the Associação Israelita Catarinense began its activities in their new headquarters with a special weekend in which Guershon Kwasniewski, from the Sibra, was present and led the religious services of the Kabalat Shabat and on Saturday morning.

One of the highlights of the new AIC venue is a work of art by the renowned artist Marc Chagall in the Aron Kodesh of the synagogue. The activities at the AIC are part of the WUPJ's Reach Project which is dedicated to helping small Jewish communities in Latin America.

 Devarim Magazine: Brazilian Jews in the world
The center pages of the twentieth issue of the Devarim magazine, which is issued once every four months by the ARI in Rio de Janeiro, show a cloud which puts into proportion the words most used in the hundreds of texts already published in the richly-edited pages of the magazine.

The verb which denotes belonging: "being", is highlighted, together with nouns that define the Jews in Brazil. Many conclusions can be made based on the analysis of the cloud, however it seems peaceful that the topic that most stimulates the interest of Jews in Brazil is their place as human beings in the world.

The articles in issue number 20 include a delicious look at Judaism at the beginning of the 20th century in Rio de Janeiro through the work of João do Rio; important reflections and debates on Judaism, in the traditional manner of constant reflection and the path that we have been following for thousands of years; a pragmatic and original look at the education in Jewish school and a didactic analysis of the operations of the Israeli democracy.

On the internet
The complete content of the Devarim magazine – including previous issues – is available in the new website You can register online to receive the printed version for free at home. Registration must also be done by those who already receive the publication. The only exception is for ARI members.

 The First Female Rabbi celebrates 30 years of ordination
Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, who presently works in guidance and spiritual support for the Asociación Judia Reformista de Guatemala, Adat Israel, in Latin America, celebrates her thirty year graduation from the Hebrew College-Jewish Institute of Religion Union, in New York in 1983. Officially, she is the first woman to be ordained a rabbi. During a good part of her career as religious leader, Elyse worked in Toronto, Canada.

It is from there that she received some tributes for her 30 years as rabbi: "Her life is a model of activism inspired by our sacred values. She is active in community boards, is deeply concerned with the schools in our community and with issues of poverty and hunger, is dedicated to the rabbinical community and publishes books and articles on her ideas and thoughts", states Seymour Epstein, Senior Vice President–Jewish Education and Identity UJA Federation Toronto.

Jeannette de Orantes, president of the Asociación Judia Reformista of Guatemala, says "we had a meeting with Rabbi Goldstein a few years ago and were impressed by her enthusiasm on Judaism, but especially with her commitment to our youth. She is an example of life that must be followed by all Jews who want to follow a modern, incredible Jewish way of life".

 Current events in the Shavuot debates
The dedication to study is one of the main traditions of the feast of Shavuot, being celebrated this month of June. The progressive communities in Latin America have the habit of conducting debates on contemporary topics, such as what happened at the Congregação Israelita Mineira (CIM), which addressed the topic "Sanctity and beauty of the body – aesthetic plastic surgery, piercings and tattoos", with the presence of Dermatologist Ana Carolina Carvalho together with Rabbi Leonardo Alanati.

At the Fundación Judaica in Argentina a group of people spent the night studying religious texts and remembering the delivery of the tablets of the law to Moses. At the Arlene Fern community school, the 4th grade students had a special moment receiving their first Tanakh.

 Porto Alegre is preparing for the events of the WUPJ in 2014
The WUPJ Latin America is preparing the calendar of activities and special events for next year. The SIBRA, in the city of Porto Alegre, capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil, will host the meeting of the Regional Board of the WUPJ, and the Rabbinical Kallah and the 8th edition of the Lashir BeNefesh, conference with chazzanim, musicians and people interested in the musical aspect of religious services.

 Save the date – Connections 2015 – Rio de Janeiro

World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America