Issue # 93 – August 2015 / Av – Elul 5775.
 Nostra Aetate: 50 years of recognition
Close to 250 people participated in the International Conference of the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate: Present, Past and Future of the Relations between Christians and Jews on June 28th to July 1st in Rome.

The Nostra Aetate is a document published on October 28th 1965 that propelled the inter-religious dialogue between the Catholic Church and non-Christian religions, especially Judaism, touching on topics such as repudiating the idea that Jews killed Jesus.

The Brazilian delegation at the meeting in Rome was composed of Rabbis Uri Lam – at the time from the Sociedade Israelita da Bahia and as of August at the Congregação Israelita Mineira (see note ahead) – and Michel Schlesinger, from the Congregação Israelita Paulista and representative of the Conib for inter-religious dialogue; and by the members of the Christian-Jewish Fraternity Council, Carlos Barbouth and Sister Christiane dos Santos.

Rabbi Michel Schlesinger and Pope Francisco

Rabbi Uri Lam and Pope Francisco

The conference participants were welcomed by the Chief Rabbi from Rome, Riccardo Di Segni and by Pope Francis.

For the leader of the Catholic Church, "the Nostra Aetate was the definitive yes to the Jewish roots of Christianity and the irrevocable no to anti-Semitism. It contributed in a decisive manner to the beginning of a friendship and mutual understanding in the dialogue between Catholics and Jews. An assessment shows us that we are no longer strangers, but friends and brothers".

Rabbi Uri Lam wrote an article saying that the Nostra Aetate provided new guidance for the creation of a positive image of the Jewish people and his impression on the meeting with Pope Francis.

 Another years goes by since the attack on AMIA without any solution
Leaders of the international Jewish community participated in Buenos Aires in an act in memory of the 21st anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) organized by the Latin American Jewish Congress. On the date a debate was held on impunity, the death of district attorney Alberto Nisman, the ISIS threat and the new challenges facing Jewish communities.

Rabbi Sergio Bergman, from the Fundación Judaica and congressman, harshly criticized the government of President Cristina Kirchner for hampering the investigations on the involvement of Iran in the attack. "We know what happened and nobody was brought to trial", he vented.

The president of the Latin American Jewish Congress (CJL), Jack Terpins, stated that he is still waiting for justice to be served, both with regards to the terrorist attack on AMIA and to the death of district attorney Alberto Nisman. "Every year that goes by, the Jewish community becomes more frustrated, but we will not give up". And he evaluates: "A big problem is the bipolar attitude of the Argentinean government where one moment it promises to solve the case and the next it changes its attitude favoring Iran".

 Exciting moments at the Bergman Seminar
Check out the statements of participants of "The Bergman Seminar for Progressive Jewish Educators", held in July in Israel with the topic "Creating Meaningful Connections".

It was a seminar in which all educators and lovers of Judaism should participate. I am sure that I will take back with me various inspiring and enriching activities that I learned there, such as the visit to the tower of David that contributed to my Jewish history classes.

The importance of self-expression through graphics on the Graffi walking tour. Dramatization as a form of teaching. I think this is an extremely important educational tool. The connectivity that the group had under the wonderful leadership of Rabbi Steve Burstein, a unique and unparalleled individual. The ways in which the prayers were conducted gave us peace of spirit and different perspectives.

It was very good to see how there are still people within the Israeli community that care and that conduct projects to integrate Arabs and Israelis such as the circus and the summer camp and their work with horses.

This seminar was a spectacular learning and study experience and I will encourage all those who work with education and Judaism to participate.

Bety Dimant, from the Associação Religiosa Israelita do Rio de Janeiro

The Bergman Seminar was an opportunity to study various Jewish and Zionist topics, both historical and current, under a liberal, current and educational viewpoint, discussing topics that concern our lessons and our communities.

We became familiar with historical places in Israel, where we discussed topics like Zionism and Talmud, museums, where we talked about different narratives and approaches, and initiatives such as the Galilee Circus and the Peace Summer Camp, that intend to integrate Arab and Jewish children and start a peace process from the beginning.

Each of these experiences was a motive for discussion and numerous reflections.

The group was composed of educators from around the world, which broadened the discussions with diverse points of view and experiences. Besides the course, we formed a group that is now acquainted and can share experiences, ideas and content.

Vivian Cukier, from the Congregação Israelita Paulista

The Bergman Seminar is a unique experience where I was able to meet with professors and educators from other parts of the world that like to do the same as me: Educate for Judaism. We were all able to discover that education is built with the vision of all those who are part of the history. There are no good or bad, but different points of view and realities. I left the seminar recharged with energy and a desire to apply everything that we worked on in the classroom. From Tefilot, Israeli reality and artistic expression techniques. Thanks again for this opportunity.

Naty Meta, from the Escuela Comunitaria Arlene Fern, Buenos Aires

I recommend the Bergman Seminar to all who work with Jewish education. It is not just a course, but also a journey of recycling and of striking unique experiences. Dilemmas and perspectives, diversity and integration are some of the points worked during the Seminar. On this journey, we also put ourselves in perspective, distancing us from our daily life, recharging our batteries and promoting a reunion with ourselves and our mission as educators. The Anita Saltz Institute's Bergman Seminar is an opportunity not to be missed!

Theo Hotz, from the Congregação Israelita Paulista

The Bergman Seminar gave me the possibility to reevaluate my position as educator within the progressive Jewish community. Interesting to reaffirm this global Jewish identity, since during the ten days in which we were in contact with other educators from nine different countries we were able to see the WUPJ as a cohesive institution. Cohesive though its political agenda of including women in the Jewish liturgy, cohesive through its plurality of interpretations of Jewish values and by defending the act of building a perception of the Jewish expression in a collective manner that makes sense for your community, and through many other examples.

The Bergman seminar provided inspiration in order to exercise the act of educating using different approaches, such as the workshop on the utilization of dramatization in education, or to give meaning by teaching Judaism through study sessions with Rabbi Steve Burnstein. I believe that the great value of the seminar was making Israel a prosperous environment in which to learn Progressive Judaism by being in contact with different communities, various NGOs, multiple educators and experiences from all over the world.

Rodrigo Baumworcel, from the Associação Religiosa Israelita
do Rio de Janeiro

 Congregação Israelita Mineira has a new Rabbi
In August, Uri Lam, age 46, takes the position of Rabbi at the Congregação Israelita Mineira (CIM), affiliated to the WUPJ since its foundation in 1996. According to Uri, "after almost three years as head of the Jewish community in Salvador, Bahia, it is now time to start a new cycle in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, as Rabbi at the Congregação Israelita Mineira. The enormous responsibility of succeeding Rabbi Leonardo Alanati, who led the community for almost two decades, comes with great enthusiasm.

The CIM is a vibrant congregation, with people of all ages and diverse origins. From the beginning I felt great human warmth and an immense desire of the people to study the classic sources as well as the sources related to the current Progressive Jewish world. For a reform rabbi, it is stimulating to become the rabbi for a community that was born reform".

 Progressive Judaism is the topic of a documentary film
The TV Brasil, cable TV channel, recently aired and made available on the Internet the episode "Judaism: celebrations and customs" from the series "Portraits of Faith", which already presented documentaries on other religions.

The video has testimonials by rabbis from communities affiliated to the WUPJ, such as Uri Lam, from the Sociedade Israelita da Bahia (SIB), and Leonardo Alanati, from the Congregação Israelita Mineira (CIM).

Chazan David Leo Eisencraft (CIP/SP and CIP/Recife) , maestro Pipo Gritz and the volunteer choir from the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP) also participated. Naomi Greice Yamaguchi, member of the choir and participated in the Connections 2015 in Rio de Janeiro, spoke about her choice for Judaism.

See the video at this link.

 President of the Comunidad Israelita de Concepción, in Chile, is honored
Mario Suwalsky was incorporated as corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences in Chile, an elite institution that brings together the main scientists of the country, in a formal ceremony at the Instituto de Chile.

After a presentation on his academic career, Suwalsky conducted a lecture on the results of his research on Alzheimer's.
 Music training
David Leo Eisencraft, chazzan from the Centro Israelita de Pernambuco and from the Congregação Israelita Paulista, participated for the third consecutive time in the Mifgash Musicale, in Cincinnati, USA. This is a training and development conference for cantors and musicians from progressive synagogues promoted by the Guild of Temple Musicians together with the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), in Cincinnati (USA).

The theme of the course this year was the High Holy Days, with emphasis on the new machzorim Mishkan HaNefesh, recently launched by the Reform Movement.

Among the almost forty participants, David Leo, from Brazil, and one representative from Canada were the only ones who were not from American congregations.

 URJ Bienal
Representatives from Latin America at the URJ Biennial and the WRJ Assembly – in Orlando, Florida – Nov. 4-8, 2015

Register now! Join the representatives from Latin America who will be participating at the Biennial 2015 of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) at the Marriot World Center in Orlando, Florida on November 4th to the 8th. The largest Jewish meeting in North America that brings together 5,000 participants from the region and also from various countries, to pray, sing and learn how to build a community molded on the future of the Progressive movement. Come to listen to speakers like Jodi Kantor, Ari Shavit, Nicholas D. Kristof, Anita Diamant and many others. To learn more about whom else will be speaking and what is new this year visit

WRJ Assembly 2015, in conjunction with the URJ Biennial! For members of the Women of Reform Judaism – WRJ and women from North America and throughout the world who identify with or are interested in the Reform/Progressive Movements, who get together to learn through various lectures and study sessions, to pray together, to listen to inspiring speakers, to dance and sing exciting songs, to catch up with old friends and to form new friendships.

To learn more:


 Beutel Seminar