Weekly News & Drash: 14/15/ August 2020


Weekly News & Drash: 14/15 August 2020

Virtual services and programs offered by UPJ congregations
Many UPJ congregations and the World Union for Progressive Judaism have chosen to offer virtual Shabbat and daily minyan services, online courses, and a diverse range of interesting and innovative programs; click here to view congregational listings on the UPJ website; note: the listings are updated several times a week.

Virtual highlights around the region

Jewish Meditation: Online three-part series focussing on meditative
 writing practices of Avraham Abulafia of 13th Century Spain, with Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff, Kabbalah scholar and meditation teacher. The sessions are on Zoom on Fridays at 9.00am (AEDT) on August 14, 21, 28 and will be recorded and a link sent out so you can watch at your convenience. Free of charge; to book email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (image by Artist: Alyse Radenovic).
Rosh Chodesh Women's Group (Elul) at Temple Beth Israel: On Sunday 16 August at 7.30pm, join Rabbi Kim Ettlinger and guest speaker Helen Shardey for updates on Israel and ARZA, which will include issues facing the Progressive community. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for details on how to join the Zoom sessions.

Deborah's Well Online at Leo Baeck Centre: Dr Sandra Hacker will speak about "My Feminist Journey" on Wednesday 19 August at 7.30pm. Click here to join on Zoom.

Dunera Tatura & Leonhard Adam: Emanuel Synagogue will mark the 80th anniversary of HMT Dunera's arrival to Australia with a special virtual event on Sunday 30 August at 3.00-4.30pm honouring the "Dunera Boys" and highlighting the amazing achievements of Leonhard Adam, judge, athropologist and artist. Click here for more information. 


Message from Biennial Chair Susan Kadar:

The outbreak of Covid-19 has required us to postpone our Biennial conference to 15-18 October 2021.  

Despite all the uncertainty and the need for social distancing, you will still be able to join your friends and community for a Virtual Biennial Experience in November of this year.

We are lining up exciting speakers to lead innovative and imaginative sessions and are excited to announce that next year’s keynote speaker, Rabbi Sharon Brous of Ikar in Los Angeles, will also participate. Click here  to learn more about Rabbi Brous.

Over one day of virtual sessions, our speakers will present a compelling vision of Progressive Judaism for 2020 and beyond.  You will hear about new ways to connect and build strong communities and congregations for the future.

You will also have opportunities to study with rabbis, cantors and lay leaders from across the region.

Music, which plays an important role at our UPJ events, will also be front and centre at our Virtual Biennial to energise and inspire us.

The UPJ leadership and the Biennial Organising Committee has already put an enormous effort into planning the conference, and, with your support and participation, we will achieve our goals and create an opportunity to connect, not only with your local community, but with Progressive Jews from across Australia, Asia, New Zealand and beyond.

So, please keep Sunday 8 November free and watch this space for more details in the coming weeks and months.


      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM

Growing up in Melbourne during the 1950’s and 60’s anti-Semitism, whilst it existed, was more covert. Attending an all-male private school, we had a large Jewish population, as Jewish day schools were just starting to emerge. We were assimilated with the rest of the school population with historic links to the wider Jewish Community. Fast forward to 2020 and almost weekly I am confronted with overt anti-Semitism in the schools, the workplace and the communities in general. I believe the emergence of the internet and the explosion of social media has created a platform for those frustrated individuals to vent their horror in a manner that was not available to them some fifty or sixty years ago. Our community bodies and politicians are trying their utmost to halt this crime with whatever manner is available to them. My Co-President David Knoll and I presented at the Victorian Government anti Vilification committee along with most of the Jewish roof bodies. We await the outcome and what action the Government will take to modify the laws and severely punish those who flaunt it. In the meantime, it has come to our attention that many of our members and particularly our younger members are not sure who to report to when they experience any form of anti-Semitism. We have been advised that that the initial contact should preferably be with CSG: 1300 000 274.

This number applies throughout the Commonwealth and upon answering the caller will be asked to identify their state. CSG will investigate, along with the appropriate authorities and disseminate the information to those roof bodies collecting the statistics.

As we rapidly move closer to the HHD it has become clear that most of our affiliates will be unable to attend services in person. Many of the congregations are making alternate plans via Zoom. However, in previous years UPJ ha been able to assist those congregations without a rabbi by sending rabbis or lay leaders from all over the world. With national and international travel now on hold, this has presented extra problems for some of our affiliates . Our ARC (Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors) has nominated Rabbi Emeritus Fred Morgan to assist with any religious details where services will be lay led. Rabbi Morgan can be contacted at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

                                                                    Warm regards, Brian

Parashat Hashavua for Re'eh

Rabbi Dr Orna Triguboff
Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra, NSW

Blessing or Curse?

The Children of Israel are nearly at the end of their 40 year journey in the desert, Moses has been speaking to them about the general principles of the covenant, and now explains that they are each presented with the choice that lies before Bnei Yisrael: “See, this day I set before you blessing and curse: blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God which I connect you to this day; and curse, if you do not.”

Here are some ways of understanding this:

It is interesting that we begin with “see” and then “listen”. We are being advised to deeply perceive the commandments of our tradition and connect to them, and observe them.

Click here to read the full drash by Rabbi Triguboff on the UPJ website.





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