Issue # 81 – August 2014 / Av-Elul, 5774.

 WUPJ takes a position regarding the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip
The WUPJ International issued a statement regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip and has been releasing news and supporting the Israeli population permanently.

In Jerusalem, the WUPJ Shmuel Mercaz Shimshon center of operations is providing shelter and food for the families that had to leave their homes, hit by missiles launched by Hamas or in areas that are the target of attacks.

The center is also organizing educational activities with the objective of releasing a bit of the stress experienced by the Israelis who live in the south of the country.

In a declaration signed jointly by the president elect, Rabbi Daniel H. Freelander; by the chairman Michael Grabiner; and by Dr. Philip Bliss, head of the judiciary committee, the WUPJ "supports Israel in its efforts to maintain the security of all of its citizens and search for peace with all of its neighboring nations and the Palestinian people".

The WUPJ also positioned itself with regards to the repercussions of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, for example, with the condemnation of the attack on a synagogue in Paris by Hamas sympathizers.

The complete declarations of the WUPJ International are available in the website

Operation Quiet Night - Beit Shmuel Providing emergency shelter
 Tributes mark the 20-year anniversary of the attack on the AMIA
Various Jewish entities held tributes for the victims of the car-bomb attack, which left 85 dead, and over 300 wounded on July 18, 1994 at the AMIA – Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

At the entity's re-built headquarters, a ceremony was held with the presence of survivors, families of victims, Jewish community leaders and politicians from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Pope Francis, who was Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires at the time of the attack, recorded a message in Spanish, also asking that the Israeli and Palestinian urgently look for peace.

Click here to see the video.

In Rio de Janeiro, the ARI set up an exhibit with pictures and the names of victims. During the religious Shabbat services, Rabbi Dario Bialer remembered stories of people who were at the AMIA and recited the Kaddish.

 Brasilia says goodbye to Ambassador Rafael Eldad
The Associação Cultural Israelita de Brasília (Acib) held a farewell luncheon for the Israeli Ambassador to Brazil, Rafael Eldad, and his wife Batia. After three years in Brasilia, Eldad is going to the embassy in Chile. The first secretary Alon Lavi and his wife Reina will also leave Brazil and return to Israel.

Eldad emphasized that, different from other posts where he has served, the large Jewish communities in Brazil are not in the country's capital, which makes the feeling of family that he and his wife felt in Brasilia even more important. "We know that this is a relatively small community and we see the ongoing effort to maintain activities and a community life with content", he added. "The key is participation. The biggest enemy of each community is indifference. Thus, it is important to participate in the chaguim and in the children's Kabalat Shabbat ceremonies", he emphasized.

During the lunch, the participants watched the game between Mexico and Holland for the round of 16 of the FIFA World Cup, with the presence of Israeli journalist Idan Kweller, special envoy of radio Galatz 96.6FM, who made live radio interviews with various people directly from the Acib to speak about the world cup.

 In memory of Jane Siegel z'l

The leaders and employees of the WUPJ offer sincere condolences to the family of Jane Siegel. Member of the board of the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), Jane was always very active, specially dedicating herself to Jewish communities in Latin and Central America. Recently, she held the position of Treasurer of the WUPJ's Yad B' Yad Task Force and had an important role in the UJCL conference, held in Costa Rica at the beginning of 2014.

 Zionism for young adults
Class of 2014: representatives from around the world at Joan Garson's Farewell Dinner. The Arzenu, international entity that represents Reform, Progressive and Liberal Jews at the World Zionist Organization, held a meeting on Israel on June 18th to the 21st. The main emphasis of the meetings, lectures and debates was how to take the message of the Arzenu to young adults.

The participants also discussed how Reform Judaism is capable of influencing Israeli politics in the issues that involve religion and the State, such as pluralism, gender equality, conversions, civil weddings, divorce and equal rights for non-orthodox rabbis.

The meeting marked the end of the mandate of Joan Garson as chair of Arzenu, with a tribute to her by Rabbi Joel Oseran, WUPJ Vice President for International Development.

The new chair will be Rabbi Lawrence Englander, who is retiring from the Solel Congregation of Mississauga, Canada, after more than 40 years.

 IMPJ has a new leadership
The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) recently held elections to define its new leaders.

Reuven Marko, activist since the 1960s, is the new chairman. Yair Lootsteen will be the Vice President. Also elected at the occasion were the members of the Management and Auditing Committee of the IMPJ.

Yair Lootsteen / Reuven Marko
 WUPJ Latin America will hold a conference in Porto Alegre, Brazil

The Sociedade Israelita Brasileira do Rio Grande do Sul (SIBRA) will host a WUPJ Latin America conference on August 14th to the 19th.

The opening lecture will address the topic "Practical leadership versus spiritual leadership: long-standing challenges and new solutions", with the presence of Professor Joshua Holo, Dean of the Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles (USA), and Rabbi Joel Oseran, Vice President of the WUPJ.

There will also be activities and special debates for groups of rabbis (Rabbinical Kallah); members of the regional council, leaders of affiliated congregations, and young people ages 20 to 35. Chazzanim, Schlichei Tzibur and musicians will participate in the 8th Lashir Benefesh and will conduct a recital for the community.

The conference shall formalize the creation of a Rabbinical Council for Latin America, with the objective of strengthening the progressive movement in the region, as already happens in other parts of the world.

This is a historical moment for the leaders of the WUPJ Latina America and WUPJ International, and the Rabbinical Council will be able to contribute to the young religious leaders who will work in the regions.

In a letter addressed to the rabbis of the affiliated congregations, the WUPJ mentions the possibility of creating a program for rabbinical education in Brazil, which in turn makes the debate on the future direction of Progressive Judaism even more necessary.

 Documentary shows the career of Rabbi Henry Sobel

The Congregação Israelita Paulista will hold the premiere of the documentary film "Henry Sobel, luz e sombras de um rabino" ("Henry Sobel, light and shadows of a rabbi") by TV Cultura, on August 5th. The documentary shows moments in the rabbi's career, including his childhood in Europe, youth in the United States and over 40 years in Brazil.

The film includes testimonies by personalities such as the Ex-President Fernando Henrique Cardoso; the journalists Juca Kfouri and Audálio Dantas; the actor Dan Stulbach; Cardinal Dom Cláudio Hummes; the playwright Maria Adelaide do Amaral; Clarice Herzog and Ivo Herzog, widow and son of the journalist Vladimir Herzog; Telma Sobolh, volunteer from the Hospital Albert Einstein; Rabbi Michel Schlesinger, of the Congregação Israelita Paulista; and Sérgio Kulikovsky, president of the CIP.

TV Cultura will exhibit the documentary on August 10th at 9:00 PM. Click here to see a part of the film.
 Connections 2015

 Questions and answers about Progressive Judaism

How do Progressive Jews face the festive days of the Jewish calendar?

The Jewish calendar spins a web of beliefs and idealism that connects the individual to the presence of God in the universe. The concept of a Single God, indivisible, transcendent and immanent, is transmitted to Jews, young and old, through the heritage of the Jewish year.

The Shabbat reminds us, week after week, of the mitzvot of rest and happiness, of study and of prayer. The Yamim Noraim (High Holy Days or Days of Awe) bring together the community for repentance (Teshuvah) and spiritual renewal. We have a direct and personal relation with God that can be restored through sincere repentance.

We celebrate the three ancient "Feasts of Pilgrimage": Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot – concluding this cycle with Simchat Torah. Pesach tells us about the spiritual relevance of freedom. Shavuot is the feast of the revelation of the Torah. Sukkot is the celebration of our gratitude for life and for the harvest and it is followed by the feast of the rejoicing of the Torah. All of the Feasts of Pilgrimage were, in their origin, intimately tied to the seasons of the year and to the preservation of nature. These festivities attracted pilgrims to the Temple of Jerusalem, which for a thousand years was the only sanctuary in the world dedicated to the adoration of a single God.

With the passage of time the Jewish year began to include other special days, such as Hanukkah, Purim, Yom Ha'atzmaut (Day of Independence of Israel), Yom HaShoa (Holocaust Remembrance Day) and Tisha B'av (Ninth of Av).

Through prayer and religious services, the individual and the community continue to experience the presence of God and renew the common commitment to a religious Jewish experience. Progressive Jews observe the biblical calendar. Just like the Jews in Israel, we do not celebrate the second day of the holidays, which were added during rabbinical times, when there were doubts regarding the precise moment and day of each of the festivities.

World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America