Weekly News & Drash: 6/7 November 2020


Weekly News & Drash: 23/24 October 2020

Weekly News & Drash: 30/31 October 2020

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to register today -

Last chance to register: registrations close on 1 November! 

UPJ Virtual Biennial: registrations close on Sunday!

The Biennial has attracted more people and from more locations than any other Biennial to date, with 
250 people registered to attend - a new record for the UPJ.

Don't miss your chance to learn with our team of accomplished and engaging presenters. We are particularly delighted that Rabbi Sharon Brous (named #1 on the Newsweek/The Daily Beast list of the most influential rabbis in America) and 
Dr Ron Wolfson, former UPJ Biennial scholar in residence, will speak to us from Los Angeles. 
The program can be viewed on the UPJ Virtual Biennial page: click here to read about sessions and presenters.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For registrants who cannot attend all sessions, recordings will be available, including plenary and parallel sessions.

CLICK HERE to register today!

ARZA Updates
Helen Shardey, President

Rabbi Lea Muhlstein, Chair of World AMEINU has written to ARZA Australia:

“Thanks to the hard work of all our delegates around the world, our wonderful negotiating team on the ground and our capable team of lawyers, we were able to secure a wall-to-wall agreement that respected the diversity of positions within the Zionist movement , established adequate checks and balances and secures critical funding for the Reform movement in Israel and around the world. We look forward to working with the new Chair of the World Zionist Organisation (WZO), Yaakov Hagoel, building on the positive working relationship that we have established with him over many years."

My sincere thanks to our Australian delegates and deputy delegates to the World Zionist Congress for your amazing support and for attending meetings throughout the night for nearly two weeks to the ARZENU Pre-Congress program and then the program itself. Our delegates were Sue Silberberg, Alex Knopoff and Lior Kalisse along with myself, along with deputy delegates Tony Leverton, Cassie Barnett, Tahlia Bowen and Steve Denenberg. We all learnt the importance of team support and strong commitment, without giving up. 

Major Changes from the Original Proposed Agreement
For the first time in its history, the Zionist Movement will appoint a President from the centre-left liberal Zionist block. This will be a voluntary position (not paid). The President, which will be nominated by the Yesh Atid Party and designated for a female candidate, will represent the Zionist Movement in Israel and abroad as an ambassador of goodwill for all Zionist streams and viewpoints.

The KKL Education committee will not be under the unilateral control of Eretz HaKodesh, the Charedi party. The committee will have two co-chairs; Kachol Levan and Eretz Ha Kodesh will each have an appointment to head the committee. They will lead the committee by rotation.

There will not be a sectorial department for the Charedim in national institutions. All of the WZO departments will serve all the sectors of Israeli society and the Jewish people.

The Chairperson of Keren HaYesod will be from Kachol Levan.

For the first time, the position of Deputy WZO Chair and Deputy Head of JAFI will be held by representatives of the Reform and Conservative Movements.

The Finance Committee of KKL will move from control of the Likud to Yesh Atid.

The Executive Board (Directors) of KKL and the WZO will have parity.

The allocation of departments and spheres of activity were changed substantially and were divided in a balanced manner between right and left. In the WZO for the first time, a department of social engagement (tikkun olam) will be established, headed by Meretz. A department focusing on working with Israelis in the Diaspora will be established, as well headed by the Reform Movement, and a unit for humanistic Judaism will be under the Labor Party.




      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM


The first advertisements in 1988 for Nike “Just Do It” featured Walt Stack, an 80-year-old marathon runner in San Francisco. Yep, Nike’s advertising consultant, Dan Wieden, wasn’t thinking about the Jewish people standing at Sinai when he came up with the slogan.

Yet “Just Do It” is a modern reinvention of exactly what the Jewish people were told when the Torah was given to them.

The Jews accepted the Torah with the statement: "Na'aseh v'nishma" – We will do and we will hear."  Relational Judaism requires us to do and then hear/understand. It is experiential, and worthwhile.

Everyone has a self-interest in building and deepening a person’s network, a deeper set of friendships – connected with our communities.

Building a much stronger sense of connection - deeper, more meaningful communities, and thereby more attractive communities and congregations - is a central theme of our upcoming Virtual Biennial.

If you haven’t already registered, Just Do It – CLICK HERE!

                                                  Warm regards, David

Parashat Hashavua for Lech Lecha 

Cantor Michel Laloum
Temple Beth Israel, St Kilda, Victoria

It is an interesting time to be reading this week’s parasha, where Abram is told “Lech lecha – go from your land, from your birthplace, and from your father’s house to the land which I will show you,” and in commanding this, God promised blessings upon Abram and that Abram would be a blessing. 2020 – the year of endless ironies. My wheelie bin has gone forth from my house more often than I have this year!

There is a lot that happens in this parasha, including the covenant between God and Abraham – a central event in Judaism. The covenant promises to a childless Abram that his descendants will inherit the promised land and become a multitude: “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” And God added, “So shall your offspring be” (Genesis 15:5). 

Later in the Torah, there is a clarification regarding the covenant whereby God’s blessings are conditional upon adhering to the covenant: “Now then, if you will obey Me faithfully and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all the peoples” (Exodus 19:5). This is also the first allusion to Jews being "chosen" or "treasured" by God.

Importantly, the concept of being "chosen" is not about being members of an exclusive club but about the responsibilities bestowed upon Jews when Abraham entered into the covenant with God. To continue to receive God’s blessings we must be worthy of them – we must be a righteous people.

As we in Melbourne come towards the end of a long and difficult period of social isolation and lockdown, which at its core has the tenet “pikuach nefesh” (saving a life overrides religious rules), we think not only of the covenant between us and God, but the social covenant between us as individuals and our wider community.  

Click here
to read the full drash by Cantor Laloum on the UPJ website.

UPJ AGM to be held on Wednesday 11 November
The UPJ will hold its 2020 AGM on Wednesday 11 November at 7.30pm (Australian Eastern Daylight Time = GMT+11) via Zoom.  Click here to view the Notice of Meeting and Agenda.

UPJ congs' online Shabbat services, 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.



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