Issue # 84 – November 2014 /Cheshvan-Kislêv, 5775.

 High Holy Days: vibrant Judaism in Latin America
The congregations affiliated to the WUPJ Latin America experienced some special moments during the High Holy Days, Sukkot and Simchat Torah that were very meaningful, full of feeling, participation, positive energy and enthusiasm. Thousands of people attended the religious ceremonies and remarkable activities, with dinners and debates on topics related to religion and the contemporary world.

In Porto Alegre (RS), the services at the SIBRA were once again transmitted through the Internet, with over 20,000 minutes of live transmissions, reaching an audience all over Brazil, Israel, Canada, United States, Mexico and Argentina. The SIBRA also has these live transmissions during the Kabalat Shabbat, every Friday at 7:00 PM (Brasília standard time) on the website

In São Paulo (SP), the Congregação Israelita Paulista brought together close to 3,500 people during the High Holy Days. During Sukkot various actives were held at the congregation. The sukkah was the background for a meeting between young Jews, Muslims and Christians. Also in the sukkah, the Madrichim from the CIP's Avanhandava, Chazit Hanoar and Colônia Fritz Pinkuss youth movements welcomed 65 Holocaust survivors at an emotional gathering among generations. Also during Sukkot, a dinner and discussion was held with Clarice Niskier, a prize winning actress and director, who presented bits of her new play, The List, which addresses topics related to the "festival of the huts".

In Rio de Janeiro (RJ), besides the traditional religious services of the Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI-RJ), representatives of the institution participated in activities conducted at the Lar União da Amizade, Associação Beneficente Israelita, which offers housing for senior citizens. The students from the Department of Education decorated the sukkah at the ARI with drawings. During Simchat Torah, besides dancing with the Torah scrolls, people of all ages participated in a lively falafel party.

In Belo Horizonte (MG), the celebration of the High Holy Days, Sukkot and Simchat Torah at the Congregação Israelita Mineira (CIM) were attended by hundreds of people.

The community in Florianópolis (SC) gathered its members with the support of the WUPJ Latin America, CONIB, Wizo and the Hashomer. During Rosh Hashanah the Associação Israelita Catarinense (AIC) welcomed a group of doctors from the United States who were in town for a conference.

At the Sociedade Israelita do Ceará (SIC), in Fortaleza (CE), Rosh Hashanah was celebrated in the newly renovated and jam-packed synagogue. During Sukkot, a Kiddush was served in the sukkah which had been decorated by the children.

At the Associação Cultural Israelita de Brasília (ACIB), the children were also responsible for decorating the sukkah. The sukkah was also used for a community lunch during the week. In Simchat Torah, the participants maintained the tradition of dancing and carrying the Torah, in a ceremony led by the chazzan Abraham Melul.

In Recife (PE), the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur celebrations at the Centro Israelita de Pernambuco were led by the chazzan David Leo Eisenkraft.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the institutions affiliated with the Fundación Judaica also held some very intensive celebrations. At the CIRA, Simchat Torah was marked by the use of one of the books of the Torah that was recently restored. At the two locations of the NCI-Emanu El (Arcos and Parque Norte), the Yamim Noraim, Sukkot and Simchat Torah provided highly spiritual moments for all of the families. At the Escuela Arlene Fern, the children fulfilled the mitzvah of building the sukkah, studying and having lunch in it.

At the Centro de Espiritualidad Judía Mishkan, also in Buenos Aires, the ceremonies included a choir of chazzanim. A very special moment was when the children and teenagers played the shofar. Emotions were also high during Izcor, when the names of the children and young adults who died during the Holocaust were inscribed on the back of each machzor so that everyone present could remember the victims of the Nazi terror.

There were also many parties and happy moments at the Asociación Israelita de las Pampas (AIP), in Argentina. In Posadas – Misiones, the end of Yom Kippur included the participation of children who held lanterns. In Villaguay, candles lit the synagogue while all those present sang Hatikva, the Israeli anthem. The community of Villa Angela-Chaco had the opportunity of conducting the services of Yamim Noraim at the local synagogue after many years, thanks to the efforts of the local leaders from the AIP and the WUPJ.

This opportunity made one of the oldest members 91-year old "Zeide Jacobo" very happy. At the Asociación Israelita de Paraná, everyone was surprised by the large number of people who came to the Rosh Hashanah ceremony, which coincided with a local holiday. To be able to fit everyone, the basketball courts at the congregation were transformed into a synagogue.

In Chile, the Concepción synagogue organized a community Rosh Hashanah dinner with Wizo. In Sukkot, mothers and their children prepared the decorations.

At the Ruaj Ami synagogue, also in Chile, besides the Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot celebrations, one of the events with the highest number of participants was a contest of questions and answers for people of all ages – Chidon Tanach – during the Simchat Torah party.

Still in Chile, at the Max Nordau/Valparaiso community, Sukkot was celebrated with a roasted lamb and the visit of a delegation from the Sociedade Israelita do Ceará from Brazil.

In Guatemala, at the Adat Israel congregation, the preparations for the High Holy Days began on the first of Elul with the Selichot prayers. The local synagogue welcomed a family from Canada who was visiting in Guatemala.

At the Beith Etz Chaim Jewish community in Huánuco, Peru, the highlight of the ceremonies was the contact with nature, especially with a trip to the natural mikveh in the middle of the Peruvian Andes Mountains.

 Connections 2015: planning a marvelous event

The steering committee of the Connections 2015 conference of the WUPJ International is working hard to ensure that everything runs as planned during the meeting that will be held on May 13th to the 16th, 2015.

At the end of October, the Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Shai Pinto, visited Rio de Janeiro to see the locations where the activities will be held:

Opening Dinner – Will be held at the Grande Templo Israelita, a beautiful monument of the Jewish Community in Rio, founded in 1932 and open only for the High Holy Days, special events and visiting public since 1987.

Ceremonies, Rabbinical Kallah, Lashir Benefesh and Tamar youth movement meeting – The Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI), main reform congregation in Rio, is going to be the place where a good part of the activities will be held. During his visit, Shai Pinto recognized everyone's effort, with the leadership of Raul Gottlieb, president of the WUPJ Latin America and member of the Board of ARI.

Tikun Olam
Members of the steering committee visited the Afroreggae Project at the Vigário Geral Favela, where they are planning a valuable exchange between the young people of the Tamar movement and participants of the cultural project that has changed the lives of many residents of the region.

Jewish Education – there will be visits to the Liessen school ( and the Eliezer-Max Nordau school (, which will be a unique opportunity to become acquainted with the Jewish way of life and education in Latin America.

More information about the biennial conference of the WUPJ is available on the Home website

 Registration open for the 2015 Beutel Leadership Seminar 2015
In the last ten years, close to 200 people from all over the world participated in the Beutel Leadership Seminar. That is why it is not unusual to find alumni of the Beutel contributing in various ways to the communities that are part of the WUPJ.

The next edition of the Beutel Seminar will be on February 5th to the 15th, 2015 in Israel. The registration form and the program are available on the website of the WUPJ's Anita Saltz International Education Center.

The seminar includes prayer workshops, study of texts, in loco visits and lectures. These are complemented by mifgash meetings with scholars, activists and leaders of a variety of organizations, including the extended family of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, as well as others who share the values of contemporary Judaism.


 Questions and answers regarding Progressive Judaism

Do we literally read the whole Torah in one year, beginning in Simchat Torah?

Yes. The Torah is divided into 54 sections – or parashiot – and, in general, one part is read every week on Shabbat. Some congregations read the weekly portion which is read on Saturday, also on Monday and Thursday.

When a Jewish holiday falls on Shabbat, a special part of the Torah is also read. Since there are more sections than weeks, there are moments during the year in which two sections of the Torah are read since there are pairs of sections that can be combined throughout the year, complementing the 54 parashiot. Adaptation of the answer by Victor S. Appell, on the website


World Union for Progressive Judaism - Latin America