Weekly News & Drash: 26/27 February 2021


Weekly News & Drash: 26/27 February 2021

RSVP by 8 March: CLICK HERE to register your attendance
either in-person at Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney or via Zoom.

And to make your donation to support the important work of the UIA Progressive Appeal,
go to:

UPJ congs' online services and programs
Providing ways to celebrate Shabbat during the time of COVID-19 is a unique response offered by the Progressive Movement, and something of which we can all be proud. To view a listing of virtual Shabbat and daily minyan services, online courses, and a diverse range of interesting and innovative programs: CLICK HERE.

Purim events around the UPJ region
Get ready to celebrate Purim next Thursday 25 February/Friday 26 February! CLICK HERE to view events happening around the UPJ region.

Dayenu Shabbat Dinner
Emanuel Synagogue, in association with Dayenu (Sydney's Jewish LGBT+ Group), will host its annual Mardi Gras Shabbat service, followed by a communal dinner. Places are strictly limited; bookings required for kosher-catered dinner. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information and CLICK HERE to register to attend.

Pre-Pesach Bootcamp
The Progressive Congregation of the ACT Jewish Community and Rabbi Gary Robuck will present an in-house Shabbaton on 19-21 March, with learning and fun for all ages and backgrounds. Click here for more information.

Etz Chayim's Women's Seder
Enjoy a four-course Kosher l'Pesach-style vegetarian meal at  "Breaking the Bonds of Isolation: Finding Freedom" on Sunday 21 March at 6.00pm. $50 members/$60 non-members; 10$ discount for table of 8 or 10. CLICK HERE to book or call (03) 9563 9208 for more information.

Honouring 70 Jews buried at White Hills Cemetery
On Sunday 21 March at 2.00pm, Kehillat S'Dot Zahav and the Progressive Jewish Cultural Fund invite you to the unveiling and consecration of a menorah honouring the 70 Jews buried at the White Hills Cemetery in Bendigo for whom no gravestones were erected. The memorial service will be conducted by Rabbi Gersh Lazarow and Cantor Michel Laloum on behalf of Progressive Judaism Victoria. There will be a reception following the service at Bendigo Botanic Gardens' Garden for the Future, Bosquet Street, Bendigo. RSVP essential: for info, transport options and to register, CLICK HERE.


ARZA Updates
Helen Shardey, President

ARZA Australia joins with the Union for Progressive Judaism in supporting the following statement by the Australian Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors. The statement by the ARC came, in light of the Times of Israel report that Orthodox MKs vow to shun Knesset Progressive candidate Rabbi Gilad Kariv as a partner for coalition or a minyan.
The Orthodox MKs said that they would boycott Progressive Rabbi Gilad Kariv if, as appears likely, he enters the Knesset with centre-left Labor in next month's general election. They took this opportunity to attack Progressive Judaism, with Shas MK Moshe Abutbul being quoted as saying that "there are all kinds of clownish religions from abroad and now the Labor Party decided to bring them here. We won't cooperate with this type of people who are destroying traditional Judaism". 

The Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors (ARC) of Australia, New Zealand and Asia stands with our global partners, including the WUPJ, IMPJ, and ARZENU, in condemning the insulting, intolerant, hostile rhetoric of Ultra-Orthodox and National Religious leaders about our movement.  Their inaccurate words about Progressive Judaism and the shunning behaviour they threaten toward Rabbi Gilad Kariv, a candidate in the upcoming Knesset elections, fall far short of the ideals on which the State was founded, including respect for pluralism and difference of opinion that makes for a healthy democracy and civil discourse.  

Those who established the State wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land.”  

Today’s sovereign Jewish people deserve no less of their own elected leaders and candidates; we call on such leaders to model neighbourliness, cooperation, and peace toward one another. 

Global Reform Movement Leadership Statement Condemning Attacks on Israeli Reform Movement and Rabbi Gilad Kariv

The leadership of the global Reform Movement vigorously condemns the most recent attacks on the Israeli Reform Movement and on Rabbi Gilad Kariv, a candidate in the upcoming Knesset elections.

We, the leadership of the global Reform Movement, vigorously condemn the most recent attacks on the Israeli Reform Movement and on Rabbi Gilad Kariv, a candidate in the upcoming Knesset elections. These attacks are yet another manifestation of on-going incitement and boycotts against our Movement by some Ultra-Orthodox and National Religious leaders in the Knesset. For decades, Ultra-Orthodox Knesset members have boycotted all Reform Movement representatives appearing at Knesset hearings and in its committees. Ultra-Orthodox MKs regularly incite against our Movement and in recent years have gone as far as to blame the Reform Movement for the Holocaust and have claimed our Movement is more dangerous than the Iranian nuclear threat.

This incitement is unacceptable in any democratic society and goes against the shared values Klal Israel (Jewish peoplehood) and Areivut Hadadit (solidarity). Attempts to silence and ignore us are failing. Despite this incitement, our voice and impact in the Knesset and in Israeli society continue to grow. As a non-partisan religious movement and NGO, the Israeli Reform Movement brings the prophetic values of our people to the Knesset at every opportunity. It represents a significant segment of Israeli society and gives voice to Jews from around the world on critical issues to our future as a people. In the next Knesset, as in those of the past, our Movement will continue to struggle for full recognition of Progressive Judaism in Israel and looks forward to open and honest dialogue with all parties in Israel’s parliament, while promoting justice and equality for all Israelis.



      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM


Somehow, I am starting to see things returning to a sense of normality. Now that we have come out of a brief lockdown in Victoria last weekend, there seems to be a degree of optimism amongst the various communities. Around the world we are seeing the gradual process of vaccinations creating a positive effect in those communities, and Israel has led the world.

Here in Australia, we are commencing the vaccination process this week. There seems to be so much activity returning to our communities. We have just completed the Australian Open Tennis Championships and Women’s AFL is currently centre stage. In a few weeks, AFL and NFL, the alternate religions, return after a chequered 2020. On the Progressive scene, we are preparing for Purim this coming Thursday evening. The theme with one of our affiliates this year is in the form of fancy dress with the best mask to be judged first prize.

And at the end of March, we will hopefully be celebrating Pesach in person, either with family and friends or alternatively in one of the many communal seders held around the region.

This Tuesday sees the launch of the annual UIA Appeal, and during the following week we launch our very own UIA Progressive Appeal. If you are receiving this notice, you will also be receiving emails over the next few weeks with a link to attend our functions and to donate as mentioned in my column a couple of weeks ago. We ask that you pledge your support at your earliest convenience. To do so online click here: https://upj.org.au/progressive-appeal/62-donate.

Finally, I have enclosed a link to an interesting article from Tablet Magazine which was sent to me by a colleague on the UPJ Executive Committee. It takes a look at the future of Judaism, both in America and the Diaspora. It's a lengthy read but well worth reviewing, as there are signs of a similar pattern here in Australia. It should make for an interesting discussion around the Shabbat table this Friday night. CLICK HERE to read the article.  

                                                         Warm regards, Brian

Drash on Parashat T'tzaveh

Rabbi Rabbi Martha Bergadine
United Hebrew Congregation of Hong Kong

There is a corny joke that pops up around Jewish holidays: “They tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat.” As cliché as this joke has become, admittedly there is an underlying nugget of truth with regard to Chanukah, Pesach, and most clearly, the upcoming 
holiday of Purim.

Many dismiss Purim as a children’s holiday celebrated with parties, cookies, and by playing dress up. I’ve even known people who detest Purim because it isn’t “religious enough”— as if religious observance must be grim. But like that moldy, old joke there is an important truth at the holiday’s very core –Purim has a profound meaning and fulfills deep human needs. It is completely serious, if not to be celebrated seriously.

In anthropological terms, Purim is a “role reversal ritual,” a time when societal norms about behavior are suspended and roles are turned upside down. Mockery of authorities, satire, and revelry serve to “uncrown” the orderly mores and functions of day-to-day life and, by overturning them, renew community and society. At Purim, this upending of the everyday is cloaked in humor – an essential and holy Jewish value. 

CLICK HERE to read the full drash by Rabbi Bergadine on the UPJ website. 

Save the date for WUPJ Connections

The World Union for Progressive Judaism will host its first virtual conference from Wednesday 19 May to Saturday 22 May. The event will feature the installation of its new president Rabbi Sergio Bergman, along with a host of eminent presenters, a chance to "travel" to the city of your choice to learn more about Progressive Jewish communities around the world, and of course the opportunity to connect, engage and network with old friends and new via the virtual platform and mobile app. Registration will launch in early April; keep updated on the WUPJ website (www.wupj.org) and follow on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using the links at the bottom of the website, or #wupj.

Mazon's Pesach Food Drive
The debate over whether or not to eat kitniyot (rice, corn, soybeans, peas, lentils and legumes) during Pesach has been waged for centuries. No matter which side of the debate you sit on, we can all agree that kitniyot are essential for the diets of those who are hungry. Our Pesach Food Drive allows us to act upon the command to “let all who are hungry come and eat”. The Kitniyot Appeal will run from 28 February until 25 March. We would like to have synagogues around Australia collecting kitniyot from their members and donating it to a local charity. If your synagogue would like to be involved, please contact Ellen Frajman (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for help with logistics.




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