Issue # 91 – June 2015 / Sivan - Tamuz, 5775
 Leader of the WUPJ International speaks about Connections 2015 in Rio

The president of the WUPJ, Rabbi Daniel Freelander, and the new chair, Carole Sterling, disclosed a letter defining the 37th biennial convention Connections 2015 held in Rio de Janeiro on May 13th to the 16th, with over 300 participants, as "memorable".

"We are so grateful to you, WUPJ's newest and most vibrant region, for your presence and your hospitality. We look forward to a rich partnership which envisions the growth of Progressive Judaism throughout Latin America, and the strengthening of the wonderful congregations you represent", they wrote.

The text also highlighted the need for support for the WUPJ projects around the world an in Latin America, with a link for donations.

Click here to read the whole letter.

 Source of pride for the Brazilian Jewish community
The president of the Confederação Israelita do Brasil (Conib), Fernando Lottenberg, participated in the opening ceremony of the Connections 2015 at the Grande Templo Israelita in Rio de Janeiro, emphasizing the characteristics of Progressive Judaism and the partnership between the entity and the WUPJ.

"It is a source o pride for the Brazilian Jewish community to welcome the conference of the WUPJ to Brazil. I think that Rio de Janeiro symbolizes this in a certain way, also this capacity to welcome people with open arms, in a tolerant and plural manner", he stated.

Lottenberg also pointed out the importance of the joint work between the Conib and the WUPJ to stimulate the development of the different Jewish communities in the country.

Click here to read the whole speech by Fernando Lottenberg.

 Conference gets space in the media

Connections 2015 was highlighted in the Brazilian media. The O Globo, one of the main newspapers in Brazil, conducted an exclusive interview with Rabbi Freelander about topics such as Progressive Judaism in the USA, inter-religious marriages, homosexual marriages, Pope Francis and the Israeli Palestinian conflict.

Read the whole interview.

The "Comunidade na TV" show, produced by the Fierj – Federação Israelita do Rio de Janeiro – produced special reports on the WUPJ conference.

Watch the video.

 New Board of Directors
At the beginning of the Connections 2015, the International Assembly of the WUPJ elected a new Board of Directors, with the choice of Carole Sterling as Chairwoman in place of Mike Grabiner.

Miriam Vasserman, Vice President of the WUPJ Latin America is now a member of the Management Committee of the Executive Board of the WUPJ.

Dora Lucia Brenner (CIP) is also now a member of the Executive Board representing Latin America. Teresa Roth (ARI-RJ) and Mario Ruschin (FJ-Argentina) are the representatives of the region in the International Assembly.

 Effort in favor of Latin America is recognized

The thank you letter from the leadership of the WUPJ International for the Connections 2015 in Rio de Janeiro mentions the tribute to Jerry Tanenbaum during the conference.

At the conference, Tanenbaum transferred the position of president of the Yad B'Yad Task Force to Rabbi Roberto Graetz. The Yad B'Yad Task Force was created in 2002 to support projects in Latin America after a delegation of the WUPJ International visited the region.

"We were so fortunate to have Jerry with us in Rio and to thank him for his years of dynamic leadership", wrote Rabbi Freelander and Carole Sterling.

Under the leadership of Tanenbaum, the Yad B'Yad Task Force contributed to the growth of Progressive Judaism in Latin America, with missions for exchange of experiences, fundraising and strategic planning.

With the help of the group created by Steve and Sandy z'l Breslauer and Jerry and Pat z'l Tanenbaum, the WUPJ-LA, among other achievements, was able to send representatives from the congregations in the region to seminars in Israel; hold Lashir Benefesh conferences for cantors and musicians; and start the CHUMASH Project, a translation into Portuguese of the work The Torah: A Modern Commentary, (Revised Edition) - Edited by W. Gunther Plaut: revised by David E. S. Stein, the most commonly used Chumash in the North American communities. It was recently translated into Russian for that community.

 Exclusive opportunities for religious leaders, young people and musicians
The WUPJ conference in Rio de Janeiro was also a unique opportunity for meetings of the different groups related to the Progressive Jewish Movement. Before the start of Connections 2015 took place:

Mifgash TaMaR Seminar where 35 young people and future community leaders met and exchanged ideas and experiences.

Music for the synagogue was the topic of another Lashir Benefesh – 9th edition, which provided training for chazanim, cantors, choir singers, both professional and volunteer, involved with Jewish liturgy and synagogue music. Special participation and workshops with Neshama Carlebach and Josh Nelson, who came straight from the USA.

The Rabbinical Kallah brought together religious leaders and rabbis from several communities in the world.

Please have a look at out our pictures gallery
 Latin American Congregations were Present

The entities affiliated to the WUPJ in Latin America celebrated
the fact that an international conference was held in the region,
providing the opportunity to meet with Progressive Jewish
leaders and exchange experiences.

Present at the Connections 2015 were delegations from
the following congregations:

• Argentina: Fundación Judaica, Mishkan

• Brazil: ACIB/Brasília, AIC/Florianópolis, ARI/Rio de Janeiro,
  CIM/Belo Horizonte, CIP/São Paulo, CIP Recife,
  SIBRA/Porto Alegre, SIC/Fortaleza.

• Chile: Concepción, Ruaj Ami

• Guatemala: Adat Israel

Representatives of the congregations affiliated to the WUPJ
in Latin America took advantage of the international conference
to hold a meeting of the Regional Board of Directors to
deliberate on new joint projects in the region.

 CHUMASH Project – Translation conducted by the WUPJ-LA is presented

The religious service of the Shabbat conducted during the Connections 2015 conference was a mark for the WUPJ-LA to present an ambitious project to the participants. The WUJP-LA began the translation into Portuguese of the Chumash in mid-2014, composed of the five books of Moses, the haftarot, as well as modern commentaries about the text.

This project was idealized by Rabbi Gunther Plaut to offer an alternative for the Progressive congregations.

Although it is still unfinished, the translation was presented and used to read and study the parashiot Behar-Bechukotai.

 Rabbi Panken visits São Paulo and participates in the Connections 2015
Rabbi Aaron Panken, PhD, President of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), took advantage of the trip to Brazil and visited São Paulo before participating in the Connections 2015, where he made a moving speech which focused on the future of global Progressive Judaism, with the topic "Seven Continents, Five Oceans, Three Principles, One Movement: Imagining the Global Future of Progressive Judaism".

Link to the keynote speech

Besides visiting tourist locations, Panken's itinerary included meetings and debates with representatives of the Jewish community, educators and young people, discussing the distinctions of Progressive Judaism, such as the fact of searching for ties between traditional Judaism and the contemporary world. The rabbi pointed out education as the main challenge of Progressive Judaism. "We have to be certain that we are dedicating time and financial resources to making the next generations understand our values and traditions, get to know the Torah, the relationship with Israel, our history", he stated.

He also participated in the Kabalat and Shacharit Shabbat religious services at the CIP, met with the President of the A Hebraica club in São Paulo, Avi Guelberg, and the Consul of Israel Yoel Barneo and had lunch with community leaders.

Pictures gallery
Connections 2015
Lashir Benefesh 2015
Closing Concert
on the beach
 Questions and answers regarding Progressive Judaism
How to find a Progressive congregation when you travel?

The WUPJ International encourages people who are going to travel to contact Rabbi Bretton-Granatoor in the New York office so that you can be connected with and welcomed to a Progressive congregation in over 50 countries around the world. His email address is
 Write it down in your calendars! Connections 2017 in Jerusalem!
Knowledge, analysis on the future of Progressive Judaism and socialization are always on the agenda for the WUPJ. At the end of the conference in Rio de Janeiro, we already announced the new dates for the regional and international meetings.

The highlight is the 38th biennial conference, Connections 2017, in Jerusalem, Israel.

Other dates worth mentioning:

July 2nd to 12th, 2015 - Bergman Seminar for Jewish Educators, Israel
November 4th to 8th, 2015: Biennial conference of the URJ North America, in Orlando, Florida