Issue # 89 – April 2015 / Nissan - Iar, 5775.
 Reform Movement leaders react to the elections in Israel

Today we join supporters of democracy around the world in marveling at the vibrancy of Israeli society and the openness of her electoral process. We stand ready to work with the Prime Minister, the leaders of the new government, and those in the opposition as well, to ensure that Israel remains strong and secure, and to advance the values of democracy, peace, and pluralism to which we are unshakably committed.

While nothing can displace our celebration of democracy, we do have deep concerns about the result and about some campaign tactics. We are concerned because yesterday's triumph for democracy in Israel may have come at the expense of the Jewish and democratic values we hold dear.

In a video message to his supporters yesterday noting that "Arab voters are coming out in droves," Prime Minister Netanyahu chose to use demographics as a wedge that threatens voter engagement. No public figure should lament fellow citizens exercising their right to vote freely, expressing themselves openly, and peacefully in accordance with the values of a democracy.

We are concerned about the approach a new government may take to working with Israel's Palestinian neighbors, and, especially with the Prime Minister's 11th hour revocation of his professed support for a two state solution. When the Prime Minister says that if he is elected there "will not be a Palestinian state", we are left to wonder what type of future he envisions. A non-democratic future in which a Jewish minority rules over a Palestinian majority? Or a non-Jewish future in which democracy is preserved, but, inevitably, the Jewish character of the state will disappear?

We recognize what a challenging moment this is, but we also know that a negotiated two-state solution remains the optimal way to resolve the conflict, the burden of which we must not let fall on future generations.
We will work with all those who share our commitment to an Israel in which the government does not dictate religious practices and offers a pluralistic and open approach to religious expression. We urge the Prime Minister, that when he forms a new governing coalition, it be one that reflects openness and pluralistic values for all of Israel's citizens, a coalition that will not reflect discrimination of one religious denomination over another, a coalition that will reflect the democratic and pluralistic values expressly stated in Israel's Declaration of Independence.

Ironically, perhaps, one result of yesterday's election is that our role as Diaspora Jews becomes even more important. There is significant work to be done in mending the bruised but still strong - and still critical - U.S./Israel partnership, and we are committed to finding creative and effective ways to be a bridge between the two governments. We encourage all of our members to exercise their democratic responsibility to influence and impact the Jewish State through voting in the elections for the World Zionist Congress - the Parliament of the Jewish People.

As we continue to work to prevent a nuclear Iran, the Israeli government will need more than ever to focus on restored relations with the United States. The threat Iran poses to Israel, to American interests, and to global stability must remain at the top of our agenda.

We also recognize the work ahead of us in reaching out to those, especially younger Jews, who are more critical of Israeli politics, especially when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. They will be especially concerned about yesterday's results, and we will work to educate them, to train them, and to support them as they develop what will surely be a distinctive and thoughtful pro-Israel sensibility.

We remain united in our commitment to Israel's security, and to the values that can make her the "light unto nations" as we have prayed for generations.
American Conference
of Cantors (ACC)

Cantor Mark Goldman, President
Rachel Roth, Managing Director

Association of Reform
Zionists of America (ARZA)

Rabbi Josh Weinberg, President
Rabbi Bennett Miller, Chair
Central Conference
of American Rabbis (CCAR)

Rabbi Denise Eiger, President
Rabbi Steve Fox, CEO

NFTY: The Reform
Jewish Youth Movement

Debbie Rebinoqitz, President
Michol Zimmerman Burkman, Director
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ)
Blair Marks, President
Rabbi Marla Feldman, Director

World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)
Rabbi Daniel Freelander, President
Mike Grabiner, Chair

Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President
Steve Sacks, Chair of the Board of Trustees
 Connections 2015

 Mifgash at Connections – Conference of young Latin American Jews

 Rabbinical Kallah will bring together religious leaders before the Connections 2015
Rabbis and religious leaders from all over the world will have an unique opportunity to participate in the Rabbinical Kallah on May 12th and 13th, in Rio de Janeiro, before the WUPJ Connections 2015 International Conference.

The Scholar in Residence Rabbi Aaron Panken, President of the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion and notable expert on the Talmud, will attend the meeting.

One of the greatest leaders of Progressive Judaism in North America will also present at the Rabbinical Kallah, Rabbi Danny Freelander, President of the WUPJ and who also worked for the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) for over 35 years.

For Rabbi Joel Oseran, Vice-President of Development at the WUPJ and Coordinator of the Kallah, "our meeting in Rio will give us another opportunity to become acquainted with the regional body of rabbis to discuss critical issues in our collective agenda".

Oseran reminds us that the first steps in this direction were already taken at a Kallah held in 2014 in Porto Alegre, also in Brazil, where they formed the Rabbinical Board of Latin America.

 Song leading Master Classes to talented students

Join Josh Nelson and Neshama Carlebach for an overview of the techniques and methods used to successfully lead groups of people in song. We will discover song leading tools and techniques that will energize and engage any community, and we will learn to diminish the gap between the bimah and the congregation by encouraging and empowering the congregational voice. Bring along guitars, etc., and come ready to sing!

 Representative of the community of Huánuco/Peru visit Israel
Dr. Juan José Jimenez Bravo, President of the Comunidad Judía de Huánuco "Beith Etz Chaim", in Peru, met in Jerusalem with Rabbi Joel Oseran, Vice President of Development of the WUPJ. During this visit, they talked about various topics, such as closer ties of friendship and strengthening among the community of Huanuco and other congregations affiliated with the WUJP and the problems of emerging Jewish communities.

Rabbi Oseran offered all its support to create new connections and also help with the educational area, coordinated in Peruvian community by Rabbi Peter Tarlow. One of the ideas is to enable any visits by other rabbis of WUJP to Huánuco so they can meet and help form a stronger community.

(L - R) Juan Bravo, Anabella Esperanza, Joel Oseran

 Communities of the AIP were visited by their president
David Igdaloff, President of the Asociación Israelita de las Pampas (AIP), that brings together small communities in Argentina, visited some regions to get to know better their activities and the reality of their day to day.

He participated in a Kabalat Shabbat in Coronel Suarez, in the Saturday morning religious service at the synagogue in Rivera and at a lunch in Bernasconi. On that day he participated in a discussion with close to 50 people about Pessach.

 ACIB receives Raul Gottlieb

The president of the WUPJ Latin America, Raul Gottlieb, conducted a lecture with the topic "Will our grandchildren be Jewish?" at the Associação Cultural Israelita de Brasília (ACIB).

In the presentation, Gottlieb gave an analysis about the evolution of tradition in Judaism and of the Jewish wisdom of adapting – and reforming – tradition whenever it has become necessary, with the objective of maintaining the relevance of religion and its values.

In the opinion of the President of the WUPJ Latin America, the continuity of Judaism depends on maintaining its relevance for future generations.

In the debate they also discussed strategies and measures that the community should adopt to ensure the continuity of Judaism.
 Neshama and Josh perform in São Paulo

 Bergman Seminar for Jewish Educators – "Creating Meaningful Connections"
For Jewish educators in Jewish schools and progressive and liberal congregations around the world.

Another edition of the Bergman Seminar for Progressive Jewish Educators will be held on July 2 to 12, 2015 in Israel, with the theme "Creating Meaningful Connections". The course, whose target audience is educators from Progressive Jewish Communities throughout the world, combines classroom and text study with visits to various locations where the content of the studies can be experienced hands on. The multidisciplinary curriculum includes concepts related to culture, spirituality, language, history and memory, as well as dealing with the common topics and the differences between the Jewish communities in Israel and the Diaspora. The seminar will also explore the three central components of Jewish existence: the Jewish people, the Torah and the Land of Israel.

The complete program of the seminar and the registration form are available on the website.
More information and registration forms can be obtained by email at or

 Passover 2015

 Questions and answers regarding Progressive Judaism
Why do some families hold only one Pesach Seder and others hold two Seders?

The Torah (Exodus 12: 15-16) tells us to observe Pesach for seven days and that the first and the seventh day will be a "sacred occasion" (Yom Tov). On the first day, the fifteenth day of the Hebrew month of Nissan, we hold the Seder.

When the Torah was written, the beginning of the new month was determined by observing the moon. This was done in Jerusalem. The news of the new moon, however, did not always reach the other cities outside Israel in time for the holiday to be observed.

Thus, for the communities outside Israel, they instituted the practice of observing one extra day of Yom Tov in the high holidays, such as Pesach and Rosh Hashanah, for example.

Because of this, in the Diaspora, two Seders are held. The reform Jews observe the first day of Pesach as a Yom Tov, but the majority do not observe the second day in this manner. In any event, we can all hold or participate in one Seder during Pesach, remembering that there is no maximum limit to the number of Seders we can be present at.

Answer adapted from the text by Rabbi Victor S. Appel,

  International news
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