Issue # 75 – December 2013 / Tevet 5774

 2013 Activity Report
The WUPJ-LA ends 2013 with a report of all of the activities conducted during the year with its affiliated entities, collaborators and the regional and international Jewish community. The text has a detailed list of the activities that were carried out with the objective of establishing and expanding the presence of the WUPJ in Latin America. This work was achieved due to the efforts and dedication of professionals, lay leaders and volunteers as well the support of sponsors and of the Yad B'Yad Task Force group. To see the report please click here.

 Hanukkah for all
The festival of lights was celebrated in various communities with activities that were especially organized for this festive occasion. The ceremonies were another opportunity to bring together people who, in a friendly atmosphere, sang together, danced and celebrated the remembrance of the Hanukkah miracle.

The collective lighting – and in public places – reinforced the recognition of Liberal Judaism. In Brasilia, the Legislative Assembly of the Distrito Federal (Brasilia) welcomed the Israeli ambassador, Rafael Eldad, and representatives of the ACIB – Associação Cultural Israelita de Brasilia – to light the candles. On another night, the ACIB counted on the participation of Israeli youths who were in the Brazilian capital for the Gymnasiade – International School Games.

In Buenos Aires, various activities brought together the Fundación Judaica, CIRA, NCI-Emanu El and Templo de Paso communities. The inter-religious dialogue was present with the participation of Catholic leaders and a presentation of the Gospel Choir.

Jaim Koritzinsky, from the Ruaj Amí community in Chile, participated in the celebration at the Palacio de La Moneda, headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic. On that day the government announced advances on the path for approval of a law that prohibits arbitrary discrimination and incitement to hatred.

Left: Argentina / Right: Chile

In Belo Horizonte, the rabbi at the CIM – Congregação Israelita Mineira – Leonardo Alanati was present at the lighting of the candles at the Ponteio Shopping Center. A few days before the beginning of Hanukkah, the CIM welcomed the participants of the National Assembly of the CONIB – Confederação Israelita do Brasil – at a special Kabalat Shabbat.

Integration with the Brazilian society was also the mark of the celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, with a concert of the Afro Reggae Strings Orchestra at the ARI - Associação Religiosa Israelita do Rio de Janeiro, interpreting from baroque music to movie soundtracks and current hits by the band Coldplay.

At the Igreja das Dores church in Porto Alegre, Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski of the Sibra - Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura Beneficência –, invited members of the Inter-religious Dialogue Group to light the candles.

In São Paulo, the Jewish Choir of the CIP and the Luther King Choir performed at the Centro de Cultura Judaica at an event organized in partnership with the Comissão Nacional de Diálogo Religioso da CNBB (national committee of inter-religious dialogue at the Brazilian national bishops council), the Conselho de Fraternidade Cristão-Judaica (CFCJ – Christian-Jewish Fraternity Council) and the Casa da Reconciliação (House of Reconciliation), managed by the Archdiocese of São Paulo.

ção Israelita Paulista (CIP), in São Paulo, conducted various Hanukkah Activities with children and young people, including cooking classes for preparation of the delicious sufganiót (doughnuts). The Lafer School conducted a nice tribute for the educator Miriam Gerber Z"L. Also at CIP, the lighting of the 5th candle coincided with the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Avanhandava youth movement.

The First Hanukkiot Competition was the attraction at the Comunidad Israelita de Concepción, in Chile, with two categories: children and adults.

In Fortaleza, another party together with Hanukkah: the 20th anniversary of the Sociedade Israelita do Ceará (SIC), with the participation of many young people.

During the festivities, the AIC – Associação Israelita Catarinense -, of Florianópolis, promoted a debate with Rabbi Michael Leipziger, who trains leaders in Berlin, Germany, and approached the topic "Challenges of yesterday and always: learning with Joseph".

At the Asociación Judia de Guatemala Adat Israel, the big Hanukkah attraction for the children, together with the lighting of the candles, was the distribution of chocolate coins.

The communities of the Asociación Israelita de las Pampas (AIP), in Argentina, also held special activities to celebrate the holiday. In Paraná, the lighting of the candles coincided with the end of the school year at the local school, something that had not happened in quite a while. This became a reason for a celebration with the students and their families. At the occasion, they also held a tribute and goodbye celebration for the sheliach Roy Melamed and his family who are returning to Israel.

At Avellaneda, they held joint activities with the Comunidad Jerusalem for the lighting of the Hanukkah candles with the presentation of choirs and theater groups.

 Congratulations to Rabbi Sergio Bergman!
The WUPJ-LA joins the Fundación Judaica in congratulating Rabbi Sergio Bergman on his election and in taking office as Congressman from the city of Buenos Aires.

His permanent commitment as citizen and which is now renovated through his public office is an integral part of his message, not only within the Fundación Judaica, but also with regards to the community.

Rabbi Sergio Bergman, using his colorful yarmulke (kippah), was inducted to the National Parliament of Argentina and at the occasion took his oath before "God, the country and the sacred scriptures of the Bible, the Tanach".

Bergman, the first rabbi to become Member of Parliament, was just elected one of the 127 new legislators in Argentina. He is believed to be the only rabbi elected to a national Parliament outside of Israel.

Un evangelio según Francisco

Rabbi Sergio Bergman

Bergman, age 51, is also the senior rabbi of the oldest congregation in Argentina, the Congregación Israelita Argentina, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary of its foundation with a series of celebrations, including the launch of the book «Un evangelio según Francisco» (A Gospel according to Francisco), about Pope Francis.

The rabbi-legislator founded a network of Jewish institutions including schools and educational and social projects. In May, he received the Micah Award from the World Union for Progressive Judaism for his commitment to social justice at the institution's convention in Jerusalem.

After completing 30 years of Argentina's return to democracy, the fact that a rabbi has been elected to such an important position renews hope for the construction of a fairer and more inclusive country. We hope that Rabbi Bergman can perform his duties, putting into practice the intelligence and social sensibility that characterize him in each of his functions.
 URJ Biannual Conference coincides with the one-hundredth anniversary of the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)
Almost five thousand Jewish leaders got together between December 11th and 15th at the Biannual Meeting of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and for the Assembly and celebration of the one-hundredth anniversary of the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), held simultaneously at the San Diego Convention Center, in San Diego, California (USA).

Led by Miriam Vasserman, a committee representing the WUPJ-LA participated in the events with the following members: Dora Lucia Brenner (CIP), Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski (SIBRA), Flavio Levi Moreira (CIP), Tereza Roth (ARI) and Erika Wolf (CIP); Rabbi Karina Finkielsztein and Miriam Olchansky (Fundación Judaica/Argentina).

In the WUPJ's panel Around the world in 80 minutes, Miriam Vasserman made a presentation on the WUPJ-LA, its history and projects. During her presentation, she emphasized that Brazil will hold three large international events: the 2014 Soccer World Cup, the 2016 Summer Olympics and the WUPJ Connections in 2015 in Rio de Janeiro.

Guershon Kwasniewski, religious leader of the SIBRA/Porto Alegre, showed enthusiasm with what he saw at the URJ conference. "In various opportunities I had heard about the great conferences organized by the URJ in the United States. For the first time I had the opportunity of being in San Diego, California, together with other representatives of the WUPJ-LA. Everything I had heard is little next to what happened. Plenary sessions for five thousand people; a special Shabbat where even in the middle of a crowd there was an opportunity for the individual. The impeccable organization, the Shabbat dinner held in a single location for five thousand people, contagious energy and spirituality", he stated.

For Miriam Olchansky, of the Fundación Judaica, it was a very intense experience, where they were able to share many tefilot, moments of study, discussions and moments in which we all dream of a future for the Jewish people and work together to attain this. "We heard leaders, volunteers and members of the Reform world, mainly from the United states. At these events it becomes clear that the work conducted is what transcends us as professionals and volunteers in our communities. Events like these are an inspiration for us to continue on this task!"

During the WRJ meeting and the celebration of its one hundred anniversary, Rabbi Karina Finkielsztein, of the Fundación Judaica, from Argentina, was one of the guest speakers and she spoke about the advancement of the status of women in Judaism throughout the world, but did not forget to enumerate some challenges faced by the communities in Latin America in accepting and recognizing the presence of female Jewish leaders. Link PDF

A special moment was the ratification of the first group tied to the movement to install itself in Brazil, at the Congregação Israelita Paulista. In the name of the WRJ, Jane Siegel, celebrated the "birth of the first Latin American female group affiliated to the CIP, São Paulo, in our centennial assembly. At the age of 100, the WRJ is proud and touched to be able to connect with progressive Jewish women in the Latin American region.

We are coming together to build our movement and make the world a better place. Women of the WRJ from North and South America will share ideas and strategies to raise funds for rabbinical scholarships, youth activities, community service projects and numerous activities and programs that will reinforce the content and growth of pluralist and egalitarian Judaism in the region. Lynn Magid Lazar presented Dora Brenner of the CIP with a hammer and diploma and we are anxious to learn with Brazil and through mutual support as we enter the second century of the WRJ, where our motto is "stronger together". L'Shalom".

 Tribute to Rabbi Leonardo Alanati

Rabbi Leonardo Alanati

Rabbi Leonardo Alanati, of the Congregação Israelita Mineira, will receive the Doctor of Divinity – "Honoris Causa" Degree from the HUC/JIR in Cincinnati (USA) on March 26, 2014 for the 25th anniversary of his graduation from the same institution and in recognition of his valuable work as rabbi during this period.

 Launch of DEVARIM 22
At the Kabalat Shabbat on December 20th, the ARI launched issue number 22 of the Devarim magazine – the magazine about Brazilian Judaism.

With never-before published texts, the Devarim is one of the demonstrations of the cultural vitality of Jews in Brazil. The one hundred most used words in the texts of this issue, reflected in the cloud to the right, testify to the thematic variety and the centrality on our pages of the important issues that surround contemporary religiosity, the present Jewish identity and the State of Israel.

The Devarim is distributed free of charge to all who register on the website The website also has a complete electronic library of all of the previous issues of the magazine, courtesy of the Docpro and Green Ocean companies.

Thousands of magazine subscribers will begin to receive the magazine in the mail during the last week of the year or first week of 2014. We hope that this issue will be as much appreciated as the previous ones.

You can contact the magazine editors by filling out the form on the website or by email at:


 Upcoming activities

Porto Alegre is preparing for the WUPJ-LA events

The WUPJ Latin America is already preparing the calendar of activities and events for next year. The SIBRA (Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência), in the city of Porto Alegre, state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, will host the meeting of the Regional Board of the WUPJ-LA on August 17th-19th, 2014 plus a Rabbinical Kallah and the 8th edition of the Lashir Benefesh, conference for chazanim, musicians and people interested in the musical aspects of religious services. There will be a big concert for the whole community of Porto Alegre on August 18th.

16th. Annual TaMaR Seminar

Connections 2015 – May 13th to the 16th - Rio de Janeiro /Brazil

World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America