Issue # 71 – July/August 2013 / Av/Elul 5773

 Controversial Progressive Judaism topics on debate in 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 as of August 8.

Main leader of the reform movement in Israel since 2009, Kariv was ordained at the Hebrew Union College and also received 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.

Some of the controversial topics that will be broached during Kariv's visit to Brazil and Argentina are:

Religion and State – the importance of the acceptance of the Progressive Judaism movement by part of the Israeli government, as occurs with the orthodox.

The recent protests of Orthodox Jews against the presence of women who get together to pray at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

The search of young Israelis for spirituality, not necessarily by attending synagogue, but by dedicating themselves to studies and the debate of religious topics.

Geopolitics of the Middle East – the peace process with the Palestinians from the perspective of a liberal Israeli who sees a solution, but without ignoring the concerns with security for Israel and its population.
 Bergman Seminar: the search for new forms of education

Overlooking the Old City from the Beit Shmuel balcony

Exploring the Old City and Market

Tel Aviv Graffiti and Jaffa tours

"hands-on" at Kibbutz Ein-Shemer and visiting the Museum

Once more Latin America had a leading presence at the "Bergman Seminar for Progressive Jewish Educators", in Israel, promoted by the WUPJs Anita Saltz International Education Center.

Three representatives from congregations in the region participated in the event in July, that brought together people from South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, United States, France, Israel, Panama and the Czech Republic.

Deby Malamud, from the Arlene Fern School (Argentina); Joana Rychter, from the ARI (Rio de Janeiro); and Nurit Meresman Azoulay, from the Sherith Kol Israel (Panama), had the opportunity to explore historical locations in Israel with a different perspective and with texts and conversations with WUPJ leaders.

Another positive aspect was the exchange of experiences among the participants, sharing of local customs from their communities as well as different melodies for the most diverse tefilot.

For Nurit, who is from Panama, the seminar was a unique experience in the search for new forms of education. "The participants were very different from each other but at the same time very similar. We were all looking towards the same thing, united by the fact that we are Jewish educators. I think that what impressed me most was the debate on cultural diversity. I belong to a school which is multicultural and open to diversity and, despite being a Jewish school our students are from different religions and social classes. And more than that, our students are also different in their capabilities and needs. After this seminar and the various meetings that we had, I feel that we have to open our minds and hearts and strengthen a more inclusive Judaism, so that everyone feels comfortable in our synagogues and cultural centers".
 A special invitation for young people ages 20 to 35
A first-ever meeting for young people ages 20 to 35 organized by the Fundación Judaica, from Buenos Aires, and the TaMar (the WUPJs young adult movement), will occur on November 1st to the 3rd in Avigdor, province of Entre Ríos, one of the last Jewish colonies in Argentina.

According to Anabella Esperanza, TaMar coordinator for Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries, in addition to experiencing a different Shabbat, the young people will participate in discussions related to the history of Jewish life in Latin America and its relationship with Israel, as well as analyze the possibility of conducting Tikkun Olam projects in the region.

The meeting will also be attended by Rabbi Sebastian Vainstein, President of the AIP, Asociación Israelita
de las Pampas.

For more information send an email to or check the website

 Exchange of experiences
The Centro Israelita de Pernambuco (CIP), located in Recife, Brazil, was visited by Ricardo Jose Rotholtz, member of the Mishkan Center for Jewish Spirituality, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Rotholtz is also a member of the regional board of directors of the WUPL LA. At the CIP, he was welcomed by the President Zeev Katz, with whom he discussed topics common to both entities and was surprised by the efforts of the community of Recife to maintain their activities, despite numerous adversities.

Ricardo Jose Rotholtz (L) and Zeev Katz

 Rabbi Skorka participates in a debate at the ARI-RJ
Over 450 people packed the synagogue at the Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI), in Rio de Janeiro on July 18th to welcome the Argentinean Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who became even more popular in Latin America due to his close relationship with Pope Francis. He participated in a debate with Father Jesus Hortal, which was mediated by the journalist Leila Sterenberg from Globo News.

Before the debate, Skorka attentively autographed over one-hundred copies of the book "Sobre el cielo e la tierra", published by Editora Paralela, written by him together with Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis.

During the debate, Skorka and Hortal discussed topics such as the importance of the Second Vatican Council, the challenges of inter-religious dialogue, the relationship between the Jewish and Catholic communities and the expectations for the World Youth Day 2013, held a few days after the debate.

Priest Jesus Hortal, journalist Leila Sterenberg and rabbi Abraham Skorka. Photos:ARI
 Rabbi who works with Human Rights and HIV/AIDS is coming to Brazil
The Jewish communities in Recife and Florianopolis will be visited by Rabbi
Joseph Edelheit, Director of the Religious and Jewish Studies Program at St. Cloud State University (USA). He is known for his fight for Human Rights and work with people who have the HIV virus, especially in India.

In Recife, Edelheit will conduct the religious services during the High Holidays and in Florianopolis he will participate in meetings to speak about progressive and Reform Judaism.

He was also invited to teach a course about Jewish thinkers from the 20th century at the Social History Post-Graduate Program at the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.

This is not the first time that Rabbi Edelheit comes to Brazil, having been an important speaker at the Rio+20 conference last year.

Here is an interview with Rabbi Edelheit about his impression on Brazil, his work and the WUPJ - LINK.

 The Devarim 21 has arrived

On August 9th the ARI will begin to distribute issue # 21 of its ideas magazine Devarim. The new issue maintains the tradition of previous issues by including new texts.

The articles include current affairs, such as the Oslo Accords with a 20 year perspective; an exclusive interview where Natan Sharansky explains his proposal for religious inclusion at the Kotel (Wailing Wall in Jerusalem); a view on Pope Francis while he was still cardinal of Buenos Aires; and, as always, the thought-provoking ideas of Paulo Geiger.

Along with these articles are the perceptions of Rabbis Stephen Fuchs, Sergio Margulies, Joshua Kullock and Dario Bialer, a delicious story about a very famous Shabbat song and a reform view on the Israeli settlers in the West Bank.

All those interested in receiving the magazine for free need to register on the website Members of the ARI do not need to register.
 Community in Peru is visited by Ernesto Kahan
The Jewish Community of Huánuco, in Peru, welcomed Ernesto Kahan, one of the founders of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear Wars, and who received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985.

Kahan, who is also a poet, was born in Argentina and went to live in Israel in 1976 because of the military regime in his native country.

He was invited to participate in the XI International Art and Literature Conference "La de las Siete Colinas", during the month of July in Peru because of his work with literature. He made sure to visit the local Jewish community where he was welcomed by the president Juan Luis Jimenez Bravo.

Ernesto Kahan (L) and Juan Luis Jimenez Bravo. Photo: Manuel Cervantes - diario Correo
 Save the Date

World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America