Weekly News & Drash: 24/25 March 2023


Weekly News & Drash 24/25 March February 2023 

UPJ congregations' services and events
Providing ways to celebrate Shabbat online is a unique response offered by the Progressive Movement, and something of which we can all be proud. To view a listing of in-person and virtual Shabbat and daily minyan services, and online courses, CLICK HERE

Shir Chadash: Open to all who love Jewish music
The Union for Proressive Judaism is delighted to host its fifth Jewish music conference, Shir Chadash, on 14-16 April 2023 at the Eden Oak Conference Centre in Geelong. Titled "Kol Ha'Olam Kulo: Jewish Music from Around the World", the conferene will build skills for individuals who sing in choirs, as well as those who enjoy singing informally in theircongregations. It is for all who love Jewish music. Our faculty will be led by the chair of the UPJ Music Network, Cantor Michel Laloum, and Rabbi George Mordecai, Judy Campbell and Andrea Catzel. CLICK HERE to register today.

Everything you need to know about The

Progressive Judaism Victoria, together with the Council for Christians and Jews invite you to a one-hour workshop presented by The Rev. Canon Associate Professor Glenn Loughrey - a Siradjuri man, artist, writer and Anglican priest - on Thursday 30 March at 5.00pm at Temple Beth Israel. Register by 28 March: www.trybooking.com/CHQCW. Enquiries: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

kitniyot (and chametz) to Mazon
Donations of unopened packages of kitniyot (legumes, corn and beans) and chametz (products containing barley, oats, rye, spelt and wheat) can be dropped at the following UPJ synagogues in Melbourne: Etz Chayim, Kedem, Leo Beck Centre and Temple Beth Israel.

Mazon supports Pathways & newly arrived Ukrainians
Financial donations to Mazon also make a big difference! Mazon recently presented $1,000 worth of food vouchers to Pathways (which supports and empowers people from insular Orthodox Jewish communities who are questioning their lifestyle, practices and beliefs) and $500 worth of food vouchers to assist newly arrived Ukrainian families. Pictured: Joanne Loewy Irons presenting food vouchers to Leah Bolton, found and CEO of Pathways.

(Re) Discover Israel at 75 with the 
Attendees of functions with Lesley Sachs (former director of Women of the Wall, who spoke on behalf of the UIA Progressive Appeal during the past two weeks) received a hopeful message about Israel, despite the great challenges being faced at this time. Rabbi Gary and Jocelyn Robuck, in conjunction with FBI Travel and Dekel Tours, will be leading an exciting 10-day tour to Israel beginning on 29 October 2023 and would love you to join them! If you have been considering visiting Israel this year and to celebrate its 75th year of independence, this may be the trip for you. To receive more information about the tour’s many exciting features, send an email today to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Beth Shalom Auckland seeking educator

for the job description and more information.



      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM

Today, Tuesday 21 March 2023, is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Here in Australia, we are proud as a Jewish community and in particular our Progressive Movement, actively providing education to enable our communities to become knowledgeable about the Voice.

In Israel, the Israel Religious Action Center, is standing strong against racism in Israel. In 2017, it founded its Racism Crisis Center to provide direct assistance by way of multi-lingual support in Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Amharic, and English to victims of racism and racial vilification.

For example, Ethiopian Jews are brought home to Israel in amazing airlifts supported by the Jewish Agency, but often face racist discrimination is finding employment. Russian-speaking Jews need the assistance of our Russian-speaking Progressive Rabbis when they cannot get a marriage permit from the Chief Rabbinate. Other examples, regrettably, abound.

You can support this important work through the UIA Progressive Appeal. Please CLICK HERE.

Warm regards, David 



Drash on Parashat Vayikra         

Rabbi Miriam Wajnberg
United Hebrew Congregation, Singapore

“The Timeless Power of Leviticus: 3 Reasons an Ancient Cultic Tradition is Relevant in 5783”

We’ve arrived. On our Jewish people’s yearly journey through Torah, beginning at the juicy family drama of Genesis, through the stirring narrative that we’ll repeat in just a couple weeks at our seder tables, to our next destination, every b’nai mitzvah student’s worst nightmare: Leviticus. With its gory details, mind numbing specificity of which animals to sacrifice, and when, why, and how, this book of Torah can feel inaccessible, irrelevant, and, let’s be honest, especially for the vegetarians and vegans among us, a little nauseating. As Progressive Jews, we’ve taken the liberty to make changes to our practices and rituals, to deviate from centuries of tradition, when doing so brings deeper meaning and relevance to our lives and to our practice of Judaism. And yet, we haven’t thrown out the book of Leviticus. 

We keep reading Leviticus, every year, even the tough parts (and some brave 13 year old has to make their way through Tazria-Metzora). The written record of the Israelites’ ancient cultic tradition offers us at least three reasons to remain relevant for liberal Jewish life in the 21st century.

When our Jewish rituals changed after the destruction of the Second Temple to replace sacrifice with daily prayer, the theodicy, the explanation for why bad things happen seemingly randomly, at the heart of the sacrificial system, was left unreplaced. 

Our struggle to find an answer for why humans hurt, why bad things happen, has only gotten harder through the horrors of the 20th century. While Leviticus cannot provide us with that answer, it reminds us of the question, and invites us into the struggle, into our full identity as
Yisrael, the people who struggles with God.

This is an excerpt from Rabbi Wajnberg's drash; to read the full drash on the UPJ website, CLICK HERE.



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