Issue # 96 – November 2015 / Cheshvan - Kislêv 5776.
 Sukkot and Simchat Torah: Jewish history, celebration and happiness
After the period of the High Holy Days, the congregations affiliated to the WUPJ Latin America celebrated the important dates of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah. Explanations about historical passages, dinners and a lot of dancing were part of the activities prepared especially for the occasions. See the gallery of pictures:

 WUPJ Latin America participates in the Zionist Congress

Miriam Vasserman
, vice-president of WUPJ-LA and member of the Management Committee of the Executive Board of the WUPJ International, participated in the 37th Zionist Congress, organized by the WZO (World Zionist Organization) in Jerusalem on October 20 to 22.

"Every time I travel to Israel, I come back transformed and more in touch with this complex and special country. I participated for the second time, as delegate of the Arzenu Reform Movement and the WUPJ, in the 37th World Zionist Congress – WZO, founded in 1897 by Theodor Herzl and which is held every 5 years in Jerusalem. Despite hard times, the significant presence of delegates (190 from Israel, 145 from the United States and 165 from other countries throughout the world) reflects the commitment of the Jewish world with the Zionist cause. The WZO – World Zionist Organization, Sochnut-Jewish Agency for Israel and Keren Kayemet LeIsrael – Jewish National Fund exercise a fundamental role in determining the policies related to Education, Jewish Identity for Israelis and Jews throughout the world and topics related to religious freedom and gender equality. The 165 resolutions regarding very diverse topics were discussed, many times in a very heated manner, and finally put up for approval. The Reform Movement consolidated its values of responsibility towards democracy, religious pluralism and search for peace. To participate in a WZO congress is an experience that every Jew should have at least once in their lifetime."
The Zionist Congress meets every five years and is the most important democratic forum of Jews from all over the world, with the participation of approximately two thousand activists. Close to 500 delegates of the reform movement from Israel and the Jewish communities in the Diaspora participate in a process that votes on resolutions and constitutional amendments.

Reform movement – Before the Zionist Congress, the Arzenu, international entity that represents Reform Jews, took advantage of the presence of representatives from over thirty countries and held its international meeting. Besides discussing its challenges and presenting the conquests of Progressive Judaism, some activists were honored, among them Nelson Kuperman, ex-president of the ARI-RJ, who is the founder and leader of the Chazit Mitkademet – Frente dos Judeus Liberais, Brazilian branch of ARZENU, who received a celebratory plaque together with Rabbi Stanley Davids – ex-president of the ARZA, member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency and of Director of the World Zionist Organization - and Menachem Leibovic, vice-president of the KKL and ex-general director of the WUPJ.

See more pictures by Dale Lasar in the links: 1, 2, 3

 Global Day of Jewish Learning
The sixth edition of the Global Day of Jewish Learning will take place on November 15, Sunday. This project led by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, from Israel, promotes 24 hours of Jewish studies through community based learning with the participation of over 500 communities. The theme this year is "Love: Devotion, Desire and Deception".

In Brazil, the activity will be coordinated by Rabbi Uri Lim, at the Congregação Israelita Mineira (CIM), in partnership with SIBRA (Sociedade Israelita Brasileira, Porto Alegre) and its religious leader Guershon Kwasniewski, beginning at 7:00 PM, on the website

 Jewish topics from a feminine perspective
The Shirat Miriam group promoted the first "CaféveUga" at the Congregação Israelita Paulista (CIP). It was a relaxing moment with coffee, cake and conversation. The idea is to hold these meetings on a monthly basis. Created at the CIP in 2013 as the first group in Latin America of the WRJ-Women for Reform Judaism (, the Shirat Miriam's proposal is to study, reflect and debate Jewish topics from a feminine perspective.

 New spiritual leader in Chile
The Ruaj Ami community in Santiago Chile formally hired Diego Edelberg as new spiritual leader. In an exclusive interview to David Abodovsky, director of the website, Edelberg emphasized the desire to develop the community's activities together with the activists and the professionals. To read the whole interview, click here.
 So that the Holocaust is never repeated

The Jewish community in Brazil regrets the loss of Ben Abraham z'l, Holocaust survivor who moved to Brazil in 1954, on October 9th. Born in Lodz, Poland, he would turn 91 in December. President of the Sherit Hapleitá of Brazil (Brazilian Association of Survivors of Nazism), he defended the idea that the atrocities that the Jews – including himself – suffered in the concentration camps be taught in schools so that history is never repeated. With the same objective, he wrote various books and gave lectures throughout Brazil, many of them in entities with ties to the WUPJ.

 Connection between nature and what is sacred
Hermano Wrobel, president of the ACIB – Associação Cultural Israelita de Brasília –, presented the foundations of Jewish culture and its ties with the Earth and the preservation of the environment during an event conducted by the ICMBIo - Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservação da Biodiversidade. Representatives from the following religions: Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, African origin and others presented their points of view.
 Community in Guatemala gets new Aron Kodesh
The Adat Israel congregation, in Guatemala, gave a special thanks to the activists who made the construction of a new wooden handcrafted Aron Kodesh a reality. The special thanks went to Rony Veliz, Mel Gonzalez and the Moncada Beteta family. Some for the financial donation; others for the skilled labor and talent for sculpting.

 Brazilian Delegation visits the Vatican for the 50-year anniversary of the Nostra Aetate Declaration

Pope Francis welcomed leaders of the worldwide Jewish community at the Vatican on October 21st. Brazil was represented by Fernando Lottenberg, President of the Conib, and Michel Schlesinger, Rabbi from the CIP and Conib representative for Inter-religious Dialogue. Cardinal Odilo Scherer accompanied the Conib delegation.

The meeting marked the end of the Brazilian celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate declaration, which brought together Jews and Catholics after 2,000 years. Lottenberg gave the Pope a mezuzah and a letter in which he asks for understanding among religions.

 Binyamin Netanyahu welcomes the delegation from the Federação Israelita - SP
The Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, welcomed for the first time a delegation from the Federação Israelita de São Paulo – SP (Fisesp), which is conducting its seventh edition of the "Hassefá Ba'Aretz" ("Meeting in Israel"). The topics discussed were: the conflict in the Middle East, the Islamic State, Russia, the United States and the relations with Brazil. The prime minister stated that China, India and Brazil are a priority for the Israeli foreign policy. He emphasized the growing Christian community as an ally for Israel and commented on the difficulty in finding a spokesperson on the Palestinian side. Rabbi Ruben Sternschein (CIP-Congregação Israelita Paulista) participated in the meeting.

 "You will not trouble or oppress the foreigner, because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt." Shmot 22:20

On October 29, the Latin American Jewish Congress and the WUPJ organized a meeting for Young adults.

Our guests, Father Paolo Parise and Andre Wajnberg shared touching stories of people they encountered through their journey.

Father Paolo is a member of the Missionary Congregation of Scalabrinians, an order of the Catholic Church that devotes themselves to welcome and embrace immigrants and refugees. Our guest told us that the organization he belongs to has more than 80 volunteers, on top of professionals and interns, and they welcome immigrants and refugees, offering shelter, offering psychological and medical services, Portuguese language and Brazilian culture classes. This year they placed more than 1300 immigrants in jobs, and last year 2700.

The Scalabrinians fathers have a active presence in lobbying in congress and local organizations to assure that immigrants have this rights preserved and their dignity respected. Immigrants from Haiti, Congo and Angola are among the many different ethnicities they receive, among a diversity of races and religious background.

Our guest Andre taught us about the refugee crises in Israel and how the lack of a responsible government branch to rule over this matter impacts this chronic situation. People from Eritrea and Sudan can live more than 10 years waiting for this status to be legalized. Even though we have the example of Abraham, our ancestor, who welcomed all who came by his tent with opened arms, the reality nowadays is quite different. Our story teaches us that during the pre and post-Shoah years our parents and grandparents had to endure prejudice and countries quotas that limited the numbers of Jews each country received. Still we were welcomed in many countries that we could establish a home and organize our community that flourish and grew.

Participants left the meeting with a new understanding on how a well intended and organizes program can affect the lives of so many and how we are responsible for the well-being and the basic rights of each and every one.
 Beatriz Vitas z'l
For many years, our dear Beatriz Vitas z'l, illuminated and drove forward with her energy and volunteer work the community effort for construction, not only of the CIRA and the Fundación Judaica, but also of the Jewish community as a whole. She was an extraordinary pillar in inter-religious dialogue, cooperative actions and transmission of Jewish values. Her unconditional dedication encourages us to continue her mission. May her soul remain united to the ties of eternal life.