Issue # 76 – February 2014 / Adar I, 5774

 WUPJ-LA has a new President
Raul Cesar Gottlieb was sworn in as new President of the WUPJ-LA for the 2014/2016 mandate. In the last administrations,
as a member of the Board of Directors, he contributed in the organization of regional events and in the area of communications. Engineer and entrepreneur in the area of technology, activist from the Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI-RJ), from Rio de Janeiro, Raul is also Director of the Devarim Magazine whose main mission is to disseminate and discuss topics related to Progressive Judaism. His message:

Dear Friends,

I am taking office as President of the WUPJ-LA to provide continuity to the work of Miriam Vasserman, who is the main leader of the Reform movement in Latin America.

It was through her enthusiasm, commitment and exceptional capability that the WUPJ structured itself in our region and the continuation of this work still depends greatly on Miriam's support. She will continue to be our main driving force.

We should all thank her immensely for everything she has done, and will continue to do,
on behalf of our movement.

The task that the WUPJ Latin America imposes upon itself is not very easy.

If on the one hand we have an accentuated growth in the number of congregation affiliations and in participation in the educational and experiential events that we promote, on the other hand we still have not been able to find an ideal way to make our congregations collaborate with each other in an effective manner.

We still live in an archipelago of Reform congregations that work very well within their limits, but that maintain little ties with the other "islands" where people practice instigating and inclusive Judaism which is attentive to the desire of Jews who are keen to inserting themselves without restrictions into the modern and democratic world.

The growing affiliation shows that we are on the right path. That Judaism in Latin America understands more and more not only that Reform is a valid form of Judaism, but also that it is the best way to fully and straightforwardly experience the Jewish religion – the most revolutionary message that humanity has ever produced. That the present cultural configuration of a world with open doors, where people exercise their personal choice in all instances of their lives, has changed the "face" of Judaism. Today we are all "Jews by option" and in this configuration neither coercion nor loyalty to the past will maintain Judaism alive. Loyalty to the past is fundamental, but it will only bear fruit if it can find the paths of the present.

What we have left to do – and this is very important – is build better bridges between our communities so that the larger ones can help the smaller ones with their material and spiritual leadership needs, implanting into the communities in Latin America the sublime message that "All of Israel is responsible for each other". May we understand that this "Israel" also includes the communities.

I count on the support of all on this path.

A cordial Shalom,

Raul Cesar Gottlieb

Raul Cesar Gottlieb

Miriam Vasserman
 "Price Tag" extremists vandalize the Kehillat Ra'anan Synagogue

The chairman of the WUPJ, Mike Grabiner, published a note expressing the outrage of the Progressive Judaism movement with regards to the recent attack against the Kehillat Ra'anan Reform congregation, located in the Israeli city of Ra'anana, by Jewish extremists from the group know as "Price Tag".

Grabiner asks the Israeli authorities to use all efforts possible to find those responsible and make them pay for the crime.

According to the chairman, "the WUPJ is united with our community in Ra'anana and with the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ). Read here the declaration of the IMPJ regarding the episode.
 14th UJCL Conference – "Israel and the Diaspora, Strengthening our Ties"
The UJCL (Union of Jewish Congregations of Latin America and the Caribbean) is a network of 14 Progressive and Masorti congregations in Central America and the Caribbean. The program of the 14th Conference, held on January 29th to February 1st, in San José, Costa Rica included debates on topics such as the relationship between Israel and its neighboring countries; Hasbará; what do Jewish organizations do for Israel; and inter-religious dialogue.


Lectures invited from Israel were: Shai Pinto and Rabbi Joel Oseran (WUPJ), Gil Hoffman, Chief Political Correspondent of the Jerusalem Post, Peggy Cidor, Member of the Boar of Directors of the Women of the Wall movement and member of the Progressive Congregation Kol Haneshama in Jerusalem and Dr. David Breakstone, Vice President of the WZO - World Zionist Organization.

(L-R) UJCL outgoing president Ricardo Stanley, Phil Gelman, new president, Gil Hoffman, Correspondente –chefe político do Jerusalém Post, David Feingold, ex presidente da Congregación Bnei Israel, David Breakstone, Vice Presidente do WZO, Rabino Joel Oseran, Vice Presidente da WUPJ

Jeannette Orantes, President of the WUPJ affiliated congregation Adat Israel in Guatemala and Álvaro Orantes also participated.

The Board of the UJCL welcomed a delegation of WUPJ leaders at the conference to discuss efforts for future cooperation. Jerry Tanenbaum, President and Dr. Jane Siegel, Treasurer of the Yad B' Yad Task Force. Other World Union leaders present at the conference were Steve Breslauer and Steve and Laura Olsen.

The Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica concluded the mandate of Mr. Ricardo Stanley (El Salvador) as president of the UJCL and inducted the new President Phil Gelman (Costa Rica).

Peggy Cidor

Joel Oseran & Marvin Sossin

Steve Breslauer & Steve Olsen

Shai Pinto, Laura Olsen & Jane Siegel

Jerry Tanenbaum

 Youth participate in the Veida Olami worldwide meeting in Israel
Representatives from the congregations in Latin America were present at the Veida Olami conference that the Netzer Olami youth movement holds annually in Israel to discuss the country and Zionism as well as reinforce its ideology and beliefs. This is also an opportunity to go back to their countries with new ideas and new projects.

For Fabiana Freier, madrich of the CIP (Congregação Israelita Paulista) camp and of the Avanhandava youth movement, "besides the incredible experience at a personal level, it was an experience that can greatly enrich what we do at the CIP. It is very rewarding to know that the work we conduct here with our chanichim is also done in many other places around the world and that, despite the cultural differences that exist between the countries, we have so many objectives, beliefs and specially a common identity".


Alfredo e Joel

Alfredo Melhado, from Panama, also gave a report: "One of the things that I liked the most was the people who very receptive. Another thing was to see that the streets were always lively, with picturesque scenes, people dancing, laughing and singing everywhere. The truth is that it was a great experience where anyone could learn to open up his or her mind a little more. Simply you cannot describe it in writing because it is not the same thing as experiencing it".

 Exchange between Brazil and Argentina
The Congregação Israelita Paulista and the Fundación Judaica, from Buenos Aires, conducted an exchange of experiences during its summer camps at the beginning of this year. The presence of Adrian Fada and Samanta, representatives of the Argentinean community, at the CIP summer camp in Campos do Jordão was remarkable for everyone.

"Their presence allowed our children and the madrichim to experience a very unique and enriching situation. We were able to notice that there are people around the world providing the same type of education, by the youth for the youth, teaching through non-formal education, practicing Judaism. This strengthened us and filled us with new ideas", stated Ana Karlik, CIP summer camp coordinator.

 Special moments for the CIP youth
The Congregação Israelita Paulista sent a group of young people to participate in the 1st Shnat of the CIP Youth Camps at a yearlong leadership-training program in Israel. The participants are: Rafael Dzik, Mariana Lederman, Guilherme Pasmanick and Andréa Sacerdote. Also in Israel, a group of young people from the CIP participated in the traditional Yad be Yad program together with Rabbi Ruben Sternschein. Among other places, the Brazilians visited the Reform Kibbutz Lotan, which has an ecological ideology and where Michal Livny, important contemporary philosopher of the progressive movement in Israel lives.

 Annual TaMaR Seminar for Young Adults (ages 20-35)

 Rabbi Sergio Bergman meets with "Women of the Wall" in Israel
Sergio Bergman, founding rabbi of the Fundación Judaica in Buenos Aires and congressman in Argentina, visited Israel at the end of January, with an intense agenda that included conferences, interviews with the press and meetings with important figures in various areas.

One of the most important activities was the visit to the Kotel, where Bergman met with the "Women of the Wall" group, which fights for equal treatment and recognition of all of the forms of Judaism.

The rabbi and congressman's trip was reported in various communications media such as the Jerusalem Post, which published an article available at the following link.

Rabino Sergio Bergman

Women of the Wall
 Adat Israel Congregation – Guatemala receives visitors
The community of the Adat Israel Congregation in Guatemala had a special 2013-year's end with visitors at the last Shabbat celebrations of the year.

On December 21st Rabbi Bruce Elder, from a small and little-known community called Hakafa, in Glencoe, Illinois (USA), participated in the Shacharit ceremony and told stores about his region, where people only meet in private homes, and in this manner have formed a group of approximately 150 families! He also played the guitar, teaching new melodies for old Jewish songs, and participated in a Bat Mitzvah ceremony.

At the following Kabalat Shabbat, on December 27th, a group from the Bet Or community from North Carolina (USA) was in Guatemala. Rabbi Lucy Diner led the religious ceremony and was accompanied by Joel and Cindy Schneider who run a program, which helps people with financial difficulties.

 Bergman Seminar for Jewish educators
Designed to cause a significant impact on our work with formal and informal Jewish education, the program incorporates art & culture, spirituality & liturgy, Hebrew language, history & memory, politics, study of texts, Jewish values, pedagogy and a lot more. Located at the Beit Shmuel-Merkaz Shimshon, general headquarters of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the Saltz Center overlooks the dramatic walls of the old city of Jerusalem.

The faculty includes some of the best professors in Israel, offering an extraordinary opportunity for intellectual exploration.

 WUPJ LA organizes Meetings in Porto Alegre, August 2014
The World Union for Progressive Judaism Latin America will hold at the Sibra, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, during the month of August, four very special meetings: the 8th Edition of the Lashir Benefesh – a seminar for Chazanim, Schlichei Tzibur and musicians; the Board Meeting of the WUPJ LA, which will bring together the members of the regional board of directors and leaders of affiliated congregations; and finally ending the week, young adults – ages 20 to 35 – hall have a unique experience.

There will be a recital on Monday, August 18, organized by the chazzanim and musicians of the Lashir Benefesh for the whole community.

 Save the date:

World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America