Issue #401

Issue #401 – 13 January 2011 / 8 Shevat 5771

IN THIS ISSUE:

CONNECTIONS 2011 TO FEATURE SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO DEBBIE FRIEDMAN

NEWS REGARDING PROGRESSIVE JEWS AFFECTED BY AUSTRALIAN FLOODING

HONG KONG CONGREGATION COMPLETES AND DEDICATES NEW TORAH SCROLL

BUENOS AIRES CONGREGATION CELEBRATES CHAI BIRTHDAY

QUEEN HONORS UK REFORM MOVEMENT’S BAYFIELD

UPCOMING EVENTS



CONNECTIONS 2011 TO FEATURE SPECIAL TRIBUTE TO DEBBIE FRIEDMAN

The World Union has announced a special tribute event to be held during CONNECTIONS 2011, its 35th international convention, honoring the memory of Debbie Friedman z"l.

Peri Smilow, along with selected friends, will be performing music created by Debbie combined with some of her own music that was inspired by Debbie, and sharing stories and anecdotes related to their wonderful work together over the years. This will be a joyous, festive, emotional and music-filled tribute to one of the Reform world’s leading musicians, performers and inspirational figures. This special event will be held on Wednesday evening, February 9, during the convention.

In addition, our Wednesday evening Learn & Think session is titled "What it Means to Me to be a Reform Jew." Moderated by Rabbi Lennard Thal, the panel will bring together three of our movement's most articulate and inspirational teachers: Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, Rabbi Janet Marder and Rabbi Michael Marmur, who will share their personal insights about the meaning of Reform Judaism in their lives. Be ready to experience a rich diversity of understandings as we sit and learn from our three master teachers.

To learn more about these and other inspiring sessions, please visit the sessions page on our convention Web site.

If you have not yet registered for CONNECTIONS 2011, now is the time to do so! Just go to the Web site.

Registered delegates can make their selections now by visiting the Ayelet Tours Web site – just sign in with your e-mail address and password, and follow the instructions. (If you did not register online, please enter the e-mail address you indicated on your registration form and click on "forgot your password." A password will be sent to your e-mail address.)

Still have questions? Please visit the convention Web site or contact Mechal Adika for answers!

We look forward to seeing you at CONNECTIONS 2011!


Debbie Friedman z”l


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NEWS REGARDING PROGRESSIVE JEWS AFFECTED BY AUSTRALIAN FLOODING

The President of the Brisbane Progressive Jewish Congregation (BPJC), Tony Leverton, sent this message to all members earlier this week:

“Shalom everyone, the current and ongoing flooding has caused tragedy and heartbreak to many Queenslanders – and Brisbane Progressive Jewish Congregation extends sympathy to all those affected and their families. BPJC would like to know if any members or supporters are being adversely affected by this event, and we will do what we can to assist those who have personal or family needs resulting. The Brisbane flooding is being closely watched by UPJ congregations who are anxious for the safety and welfare of all Progressive congregation members in the area. Together with the UPJ and our sister congregation, Temple Shalom Gold Coast, all send their prayers to us for our ongoing safety and rapid deliverance from the ravages of the floods....  Oseh shalom bimromav, hu ya’aseh shalom aleinu; v’al kol y’Israel, v’imru amen.”

While the City of Brisbane is shutting down the electricity grid and emergency workers continue to seek those missing in flood areas and caring for those who have been evacuated, Jewish organizations around the country are offering whatever help is required.

Steve Denenberg, executive director of Union for Progressive Judaism of Australia, New Zealand and Asia, said, “I have spoken with both of our congregations in the region as well as a representative of Beit Knesset Shalom and, so far, all appear to be well.  However, we know that the situation in Brisbane may well deteriorate over the coming 24 hours and can only hope that the impact is less than feared. Families from Rockhampton have joined both the BPJC in Brisbane and Temple Shalom on the Gold Coast.” 

“We have received messages of concern and offers of assistance from Progressive Jews around the world,” continued Denenberg. “At this stage we can only pass those messages on and offer our prayers for the well-being of the entire Queensland community.”


Flooding in Australia.


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HONG KONG CONGREGATION COMPLETES AND DEDICATES NEW TORAH SCROLL

The sanctuary of The United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong (UJC) was filled to capacity on November 14 to mark the completion and dedication of a new Torah that had been commissioned as part of its 20th anniversary celebrations. The scroll was written by Jamie Shear, a Jerusalem-based sofer (scribe), who traveled with it to Hong Kong several times to enable members of the congregation to fulfill the mitzvah of helping write a Torah in their lifetime.

During the siyyum, or completion, ceremony, Shear added the final words of Deuteronomy as everyone present looked on. After this, the congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Stanton Zamek, and its educational director, Rabbi Martha Bergadine, checked the final three words to declare the scroll “kosher,” at which point the congregation broke into cheers, song and dance.

"This project is one of the proudest moments of my rabbinate,” Zamek noted. “The beautiful writing in this Sefer Torah is Jamie Shear's alone, but spiritually the work of a host of dedicated people is reflected in every sheet of parchment."

Before being placed in the ark, the newly completed Torah was passed among UJC founders Robert and Grace Green, Charles Monat and Robert Meyer, and finally to a young man chosen to represent the newest generation, Ezra Kohn, who on January 1 became the congregation’s first bar mitzvah celebrant to read from the new scroll.

“At the end of our 16-month quest for a new Torah, we not only have a brand new Sefer Torah,” said Daniel Kirwin, who chaired UJC’s 20th anniversary committee, “we also have an active and engaged community ready for the next 20 years and beyond.”

Following the siyyum, there was a celebratory dinner. UJC is affiliated with the Union for Progressive Judaism of Australia, New Zealand and Asia.


Jamie Shear completes UJC’s 20th anniversary Torah during the November 14 ceremony in Hong Kong.


UJC co-founder Robert Meyer passes the new scroll to Ezra Kohn, who on January 1 became the congregation’s the first bar mitzvah celebrant to read from the new Torah.


Rabbi Stanton Zamek performs the hagbah (lifting) ritual with the newly completed scroll.


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BUENOS AIRES CONGREGATION CELEBRATES CHAI BIRTHDAY

Buenos Aires’s Fundación Centro de Espiritualidad Judía Mishkán, an affiliate of the World Union, celebrated its 18th anniversary with a special program on November 22. The program was led by the congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Reuben Nisenbom, and its president, Ricardo Faimberg.

Special guests included Israel’s ambassador to Argentina, Daniel Gazit, and its consul general, Giora Loterstein, as well as representatives from national Jewish organizations and local congregations.

Following a prayer service of thanksgiving, a special “Tree of Life” sculpture was dedicated that included the names of 36 leaders and benefactors who helped develop the congregation. Following the ceremony, there was a concert by klezmer musicians.

The Mishkan congregation will host the next conference of the World Union’s Latin American region in May 2012.


An interior shot at Fundación Centro de Espiritualidad Judía Mishkán in Buenos Aires.


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QUEEN HONORS UK REFORM MOVEMENT’S BAYFIELD

Rabbi Dr. Tony Bayfield, immediate past head of Britain’s Movement for Reform Judaism, was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) on Queen Elizabeth II's New Year Honors list. He was cited for his dedication to Reform Judaism.

"It strikes me as such a good thing that in this country somebody can receive a public honor for working for a minority religious community,” Bayfield said. “It makes me feel very much a part of the British society, which is not a way Jews have always felt. I am very moved by receiving the honor because I think it’s not just in recognition of my work but of how much Reform Jews contribute to society and how much this is valued."

Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand, the movement’s executive director, called the honor “a great reflection of Rabbi Bayfield's contribution to the movement and to the growing importance of Reform Judaism in the community."

Bayfield added that the award also recognized his longtime involvement in interfaith dialogue, particularly among Jews, Christians and Muslims.


Rabbi Dr. Tony Bayfield, CBE


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UPCOMING EVENTS

January 13-19, 2011 – Annual conference of Netzer Olami, Jerusalem

February 7-13, 2011Connections 2011, San Francisco

March 6-10, 2011 – 8th annual Riding4Reform bicycling fundraiser for the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, Israel

June 10-12, 2011 – Dedication of new Progressive Jewish Center, Minsk

March 15-18, 2012 – Biennial Conference of the European Union for Progressive Judaism, Amsterdam





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