Weekly News & Drash: 18/19 June 2021



Weekly News & Drash: 18/19 June 2021

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.

Workshop: Responding to antisemitism and anti-Zionism
On Sunday 20 June at 4.00-5.30pm, the UPJ will present an online workshop to address growing concerns about rising antisemitism and ways to effectively engage when confronted by anti-Zionist/anti-Israel voices. We are grateful to have as co-presenters Alex Ryvchin (left, Co-CEO, Executive Council of Australian Jewry) and Dr Bren Carlill (right, Director of Public Affairs, Zionist Federation of Australia), as well as UPJ Co-President David Knoll AM, and Associate Professor Josh Keller, who lived for 10 years in Asia and can address particularly the issues faced there. Last-minute registrations by 18 June: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

V-PJV ONLINE: Back by popular demand
Season 2 of Virtual Progressive Judaism Victoria will begin on Sunday 20 June at 4.45pm for 5.00pm start, with Rabbi Danny Rich (Liberal Judaism UK) and others presenting "Mixed Marriage, Mixed Attitudes: Discussing the complexities and approaches to intermarriage in our community". CLICK HERE for the Zoom link. The series will continue with sessions offered one Sunday of each month through September.

Breaking Bread: Film. Nosh. Learn. Social Impact!
Emanuel Synagogue,Plus61J and Mazon are hosting the screening of Breaking Bread on Wednesday 23 June at 6.30pm, with a post-screening cooking demonstration with acclaimed Chef Michael Rantissi. The film shows how Dr Nof Atamna-Ismaeel is on a quest to make social change through food. $35 per person; all proceeds go to Mazon. CLICK HERE to book.

OpEd on Antisemitism published in the AJN 
UPJ Co-Presidents David Knoll and Brian Samuel, and ARZA President Helen Shardey, submitted an OpEd article on rising antisemitism and anti-Zionism that was published in the Australian Jewish News last week. CLICK HERE to view the article on the UPJ website. #TheAustralianJewishNews


Helen Shardey, ARZA President
UPJ Vice-President

Progressive Jews in Israel and the Diaspora have celebrated the new government in Israel. Their hopes are that Isrel will be more reflective of a pluralistic state, where all streams of Judaism are treated equally and all citizens of Israel can enjoy equal rights under a democracy they were promised in the Declaration of Independence.

It is the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism through its arm, the Israel Religious Action Centre (IRAC) that has fought long and hard since 1987 to defend equality for all, social justice and religious pluralism within Israel through the legal system. Much has been achieved, but there is still a great deal more we would hope to see change in Israel under a new government. Therefore, we support our annual Progressive Appeals to assist this wonderful organisation in its work on our behalf.

It was IRAC, under the direction of its CEO, Anat Hoffman and Rabbi Noa Sattath who established the Women of the Wall organisation to protect the rights of all Jewish Women to pray at the Kotel. They negotiated a new egalitarian prayer space with the Netanyahu government which then reneged on the agreement. So each Rosh Chodesh the Women of the Wall, representing all streams of Judaism gather with their prayer books (siddurim), wearing their tallit to pray for the new Hebrew month.

Last weekend, as the women were entering the Kotel with their prayer books for the new month of Tammuz, they were viciously assaulted by Haredi youth and men who ripped up the sacred books and tried to physically stop the women from entering the premises. This has been described as a “hate crime” and happened as the police watched on. [Photo credit: Women of the Wall]

Now with a new Coalition Government in power in Israel, we know that Netanyahu and the opposition parties will be looking for any signs of weakness or fragility.

However, even though Naftali Bennett and his Coalition will not wield the same power as Netanyahu, there is an over-riding determination by this motley lot of parties to ensure Netanyahu never takes charge again. The new ministers will be expected to put forward policies and govern in the interests of all Israelis. This is what they have promised to do, and to be honest it is what they will have to do given the constraints of their power base. The new Prime Minister will have to work in full cooperation with his colleagues from the other more powerful parties. It will be a real test of his political skills and capacity.



      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM

Last Sunday, Karen and I took the opportunity to visit the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Here, under the leadership of Dr Brendan Nelson AO, the WW2 exhibit route was profoundly and importantly changed, so that in recent years all who visit pass through a small but important section dedicated to the victims and to the survivors of the Shoah. 

All are reminded that the precursor to the violence and murder of the six million was constituted by words: vicious words, words portending pure and unadulterated antisemitism.

Then, it was thought impossible that in a civilised world such hatred could flow. Today, some wonder how in our civilised world such hatred again can flow.  

We hope that many of you will register to attend our workshop: "Responding to antisemitic, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel voices" to be held over Zoom on Sunday 20 June at 4.00-5.30pm (Sydney/Melbourne time). This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to email your registration to the UPJ office.

For those who were not privileged to hear Brendan Nelson speak at the 2019 Yom Hashoah commemoration Sydney, you can CLICK ON THIS LINK to read his very moving address.  

Here is
 one short extract: "I told our staff we would appropriate an area adjacent to the Second World War and construct a permanent Holocaust exhibition. Not everyone was happy with this. One critic said emphatically: 'This has nothing to do with Australia and the Australian War Memorial. You are breeching your charter. I will never walk through it.' 'Why?' I asked. 'Do you think we were fighting the Second World War at all if not against Nazism and fascism? This has everything to do with us, for we are part of human kind.'"

In a world grappling with the mass movement of people; the persecution of political, ethnic and religious minorities; the push for state sanctioned euthanasia; and a generational struggle against resurgent totalitarianism principally in the form of Islamic extremism, we must remind ourselves not only of why we fought wars but that of which human kind is capable and the circumstances that lead to it. The Holocaust: Witnesses and Survivors exhibit opened late in 2016.

We are in Dr Nelson's debt for insisting that every Australian who visits  the Australian War Memorial will pass through this important section.

The world has much to learn, and needs to learn it again.  

Drash on Parashat Chukat
Rabbi Misha Clebaner
North Shore Temple Emanuel, Chatswood, NSW


In this week's Torah portion of Chukat, two of the three Israelite leaders pass away. Miriam dies, as does Aaron. Sandwiched in between these two tragic events, is another tragic event. Moses lashes out against his people and negates the commands of Adonai as he strikes a rock (instead of speaking to it) to bring forth water to quiet the thirsty and clamouring masses. 

It is said (Numbers 20:12) that Moses will not be allowed to enter into the Land of Israel because of the scene at the rock of Meribah. Stricken with grief after the passing of his sister, Moses failed to heed the word of God. 

Moses was not only overcome with an intense sadness because of his love for his sister, but he had also lost a partner in leadership. Not only had he lost his fellow guide towards redemption, but he knew that their people had lost their source of inspiration for dancing and singing. Additionally, it was due to the merit of Miriam that the Israelites continued to find wellsprings of water wherever they went. 

CLICK HERE to read the full drash on the UPJ website.

Hanukkah Homecoming to unite Progressives worldwide
Dr Ron Wolfson has issued an invitation for UPJ congregations to join a growing coalition of worldwide congregations and organisations to come together during the weekend of 3-5 December for a worldwide rededication of our relational communities post-pandemic. It's free, flexible and fun: Ron's organisation, the Kripke Institute, will provide the platform and our congregations will organise the gatherings to "recount the things that befell us" and share ideas about how we can rededicate our efforts and "turn the lights back on" after the pandemic. CLICK HERE to learn more and to sign up for your congregation to participate. A map of the world will indicate your participation and link to your website ... New Zealand will be the first! 





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