Issue # 72 - August 2013 / Elul 5773

 Shana Tova

 The difficult reconciliation between religion and the State of Israel

Meeting with youth at CIP

The Executive Director of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, participated in various meetings with leaders and youngsters during the visit that he made to Latin America at the beginning of August. The trip was organized by the World Union for Progressive Judaism, with the support of its affiliates the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP), in São Paulo; the Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI), in Rio de Janeiro; the Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência (Sibra), in Porto Alegre; and the Fundación Judaica, in Buenos Aires.

Kariv spoke about various topics related to everyday life in Israel, with special attention to the acknowledgement of Progressive Judaism by the government. "Unfortunately, in a very strange manner, Israel is the only democracy in the world that inhibits the religious freedom of its own Jews. There is no other democracy in the world that interferes so dramatically in the religious choices of the Jewish citizens. If we are really concerned with the continuity of Judaism, with Judaism in Brazil and in other parts of the world, we cannot ignore what is happening in Israel with regards to the Jewish citizens. Jewish pluralism is a necessity today. It is the only way to maintain religion coexisting with the democratic values defended by the Zionist philosophers, even by the Orthodox Zionists", he stated.

Meeting with Fundación Judaica board

(L-R) Prof. Joshua Holo, Rabbi Ruben Sternschein, Rabbi Gilad Kariv

Meeting with youth at CIP

(L-R) Roberto Ochman, Ricardo Silveira, Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski, Rabbi Gilad Kariv

Busy schedule

• In Rio de Janeiro, Kariv met with leaders of the
local Jewish community and went to all of the Jewish schools to speak with students from kindergarten to middle school. He participated in the Kabalat Shabat service and met with young people from the ARI – Associação Religiosa Israelita.

• In Argentina, he followed the victory at the campaign headquarters of Rabbi Sergio Bergman, of the Fundación Judaica, in the primary elections of Buenos Aires, in the campaign for an unprecedented seat in the Argentinean parliament.

Also in Buenos Aires, Kariv participated in an interreligious encounter and met with leaders, educators, young people and activists from various entities, such as the Fundación Judaica, Arlene Fern Community School, AMIA, Mishkan, Judaica Norte, Gran Templo de Paso, Javurá and IDEL.

• In Porto Alegre, besides participating in events with the Jewish community, he went to the Grêmio soccer team stadium to closely follow the victory of the home team against Cruzeiro by 3 to 1.

• In São Paulo, he attended the religious services at the CIP and at the Communidade Beth-El and met with young people. He participated in a debate with Professor Joshua Holo, Dean of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles. (See text below)

Rabbi Kariv also gave interviews to the O Globo
and Zero Hora.

Meeting with youth from ARI

Meeting with Mishkan board

 The importance of Liberal Jewish Education
Professor Joshua Holo, Dean of the Hebrew Union College (HUC) in Los Angeles (USA), was invited by the WUPJ and the Congregação Israelita Paulista to come to São Paulo to participate in a series of activities with Jewish Education as the main theme.

Holo participated in a panel with Rabbi Gilad Kariv (see text above) with the topic "What is the importance of Liberal Judaism to Israel, the Diaspora and the world?" Another engagement the professor attended was an informal discussion with close to 30 young people from the CIP where they discussed various topics, emphasizing that history teaches that present-day Liberal Judaism is the majority option, thus valid within the communities that used to only consider orthodoxy as the authentic religious practice. Holo also participated in meetings with leaders from the education sector, educators, young leaders and members of the community to talk about educational projects, his experience in the USA, and especially the role of a consistent Jewish education in the legitimization of Liberal Judaism, promoting the involvement of future generations with religion.

Round table with Rabbi Gilad Kariv

Shiur with young adults from CIP

 Mifgash: Conference for Young Latin American Jews
For whom?
For all Young Latin American Jews from the ages of 20 to 35.

For what?
To enjoy a unique conference. A trip through time, to converge in our past, present and future as Latin American Jews. To become more familiar with our roots, exchange deep and meaningful experiences, submerged in the beauty of nature.

Tikun Olam, giving back a little love to the inhabitants of this land that gave safe haven and peace to our great grandparents who had to escape from death, a similar reality in all of the Latin American countries.

In the Avigdor Colony in the Province of Entre Rios, Argentina,, One of the last Jewish colonies of German immigrants, in a country house within the Fundación Judaica complex. We will have the opportunity to enjoy a unique Shabat, conduct Tefilah in a synagogue built by the immigrants, read from the Torah that they themselves read from and connect with our roots.
November 1, 2 and 3, 2013

How much?

What does it include?
Transfers, visits, food, accommodation and educational materials.

Who is organizing it?
Fundación Judaica Argentina,, and TaMar, the Young adult movement of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ).

For more information contact:

Rabbi Karina Finkielsztein, of the Fundación Judaica, through this email address:

Anabella Esperanza, TaMaR coordinator for Spanish and Portuguese speaking


 Chilean community gains the support of the WUPJ
The president of the WUPJ Latin America, Miriam Vasserman, participated as a guest in the Kabalat Shabat services at the Ruaj Ami Community in Santiago. In this link, you can see an interview given by Miriam to the local Jewish media, emphasizing the importance of the work conducted by the WUPJ with small Jewish communities.

1 - L –R Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky, Rabbi Roberto Feldmann and daughter Malka with Miriam Vasserman
2 - L– R Patty Thal, Susy Pitchon, Rabbi Chaim Koritzinsky, Erika Wolff, Miriam Vasserman
3 - Miriam Vasserman with Victor Grimblatt (L) and Martin Hirsch
 Rabbi Sergio Bergman is victorious in Argentinean politics

Rabbi Bergman (to the right) with co-religionists

The results of the primary elections in Argentina, with an outstanding position for the Propuesta Republicana Party (PRO) in the capital city, Buenos Aires, left Rabbi Sergio Bergman of the Fundación Judaica, close to a spot in the Lower House of the local Parliament. As one of the leaders of the opposition to the national government of Cristina Kirchner, the rabbi, who already participated in the capital's Municipal Parliament, should have his post in the National Parliament confirmed at the decisive election to be held on October 27th, becoming the first religious leader of the Jewish community to reach such a high post in Argentinean politics.
 Community from Brasilia receives a Sefer Torah
Close to 130 people attended on August 8th the party which celebrated the receipt of the Torah at the ACIB - Associação Cultural Israelita de Brasília.

The president of the entity, Peter Rembischevski, emphasized the campaign for acquisition of the Sefer Torah which lasted only 37 days and remembered, with emotion, that the one who first idealized the campaign was Samuel Szerman (Z"L), president of the ACIB who passed away on July 9, 2013.

Simcha at Brasilia aroubd the Torah.
Photos: Natan Guterman & Camila Nebenzahl

 The historical Jewish presence in Brazil

Hahal Zur Israel Synagogue, Recife, Brazil

The Brazilian media – with echo in international media outlets – published the discovery of a preserved skeleton during the excavation by archeologists in the area of the first synagogue of the Americas, in Recife, for the construction of a tunnel. Marcos Albuquerque, researcher of the Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, told the newspaper O Globo, that he is sure that the man was Jewish and was buried at the location in the middle of the 16th century. To obtain further details they would need to remove part of the mortal remains, but in respect of Jewish tradition, the archeologists left the body intact.

Link Video
The WUPJ Latin America informs with sadness the passing of Morah Miriam Gerber (Z"L). As an educator, she was one of the people responsible for the creation of the education department of the Congregação Israelita Paulista. Always tied to the Progressive movement, she participated in numerous activities and was one of Brazil's representatives in 2011 at the Bergman Seminar, training course for educators organized annually by the WUPJ in Israel.
With David Leo Eisencraft
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World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America