Weekly News & Drash: 9/10 April 2021



Weekly News & Drash: 9/10 April 2021

Mazel tov to Nicole Maor - an Australian Progressive Jew and lawyer who made aliyah in the 1990s - who led the charge in the Israel Supreme Court decision
 recognising Progressive and Masorti conversions in Israel.

Nicole Maor wil speak in person on Tuesday 27 April at 7.00pm at Emanuel SynagogueCLICK HERE to register your attendance.

To make your donation to support the important work of the UIA Progressive Appeal, 
go to: https://upj.org.au/progressive-appeal/donate

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.

Videos from event with Ha'aretz journalist Amir Tibon
If you missed hearing from Amir Tibon last week, the UPJ produced a short 15-minute video "The hidden big issue in the Israeli elections - in just 15 minutes". CLICK HERE to view the video on YouTube, and click on Amir's photo on the left to view a three-minute video from Amir's talk, which focuses on why Israeli Jews are turning to Progressive Judaism.


In Conversation with Julian Leeser MP
Emanuel Synagogue will host a special In Conversation session with Julian Leeser MP, Member for Berowra, on Sunday 11 April at 5.00pm. The discussion, led by Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, will focus on Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People: Where to from here?" CLICK HERE to register.

WUPJ Connections 2021: Registrations open soon!
The online international conference "Facing our Future Together", will be held on 19-22 May, offering dynamic opportunities to learn, explore and engage in the diversity of the Progressive Jewish family, with presentations and events from around the globe. Registrations have now opened; CLICK HERE to register today!

Invitation to attend WRJ Shabbat event
Join the Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) Midwest District for a Zoom experience on Sunday 18 April, with Australian component beginning at 10.0am (AEST), 9.30am (ACST) and 8.00am (AWST), with Dr Sue Silberberg speaking on "The History of Jews in Australia" . There is no charge; CLICK HERE to register; for more information contact Joanne Loewy: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The UPJ Biennial Conference will be held in a blended format via Zoom and face-to-face in Sydney on Friday 15 October to Sunday 17 October 2021. “Progressing Judaism Eight Days a Week” will offer a diverse range of topics to be discussed, dissected, challenged and debated, in a friendly and inclusive space, concentrating on values in our daily lives and the religious and spiritual aspects of our Jewish identity. Be on the lookout for more details coming soon!



Helen Shardey, President


Today President Reuven Rivlin invited Bibi Netanyahu to form a coalition to govern Israel, after four inconclusive elections taking place over the last two years. Netanyahu has 28 days to form Israel’s next government, with a possible fourteen day extension. However, the President of Israel claimed that no candidate had a real chance of forming a new government, but he chose Netanyahu because he had the most endorsements. The President was forced to make this decision while the PM, Bibi Netanyahu was in court facing trial on corruption charges.

This bizarre situation, in my view, points to a need for reform of the electoral system in Israel, a matter that is being discussed across the board. A number of possible changes have been put forward. One is to increase the percentage of votes that a party would need to achieve to gain seats in the Knesset.

If the percentage was increased it would lead to fewer small parties holding seats and able to manipulate the more successful larger parties, as currently occurs. Another idea is to introduce electorates, as in Australia, so Knesset members as individuals and not just party members, would be answerable to the community who voted for them. The problem is that the Knesset would need to pass legislation to change the electoral system and its not likely happen if members would lose their seats.

While there have been changes to the electoral threshold over time, they have only changed by small increments to the now 3.25 percent of total votes for a party to enter the Knesset. European countries with the same electoral system have thresholds in the 5 to 10 percent range.

While the current system was developed initially to support many parties, able to represent migrants from a large number of different countries, perhaps it is time to change to a system that meets the needs of a more stable demographic Israel. 


      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM

Oh my gosh!

Is it really possible to be part of a truly global Progressive Jewish community?  The answer is a clear and resounding "yes".

Historically, the WUPJ Connections Conference has been held in Israel and physical attendance, whilst excellent, has been limited to communal leaders who could afford to travel and participate. This time, conducting the event virtually, we hope to connect hundreds of Progressive Jews from around the globe, not just leadership teams.

Some months of hard work of a global team including three of us from Down Under have created a wonderful opportunity to connect and learn with some truly amazing Progressive Jewish leaders and educators from across the globe.

“Connections 2021 | Facing our Jewish Future Together” features central active feeds for all, customised scheduling for your interests, interactive chat features for networking, and live and on-demand programming, across all time zones! 

Our time zone has been included as one of the three primary time zones
in which it will be possible to engage with a majority of the sessions that are being made available. Do not miss the opportunity.

Registrations have opened today via Eventbrite; there are a range of ticket prices available: US$180 donation, US$360 for families, or pay as you can/own donation level, make an additional donation, or arrange a free Shabbat-only registration. CLICK HERE for more information and to register.

Now, here is the big ask. For those in our community who can afford to pay for two registrations, please contact Jocelyn or myself. We will ask you to contribute to a small fund from which we will support participation by those who genuinely cannot afford to participate.

It is my hope that there will be at least 100 participants from Australia, New Zealand and Asia.

                                                              Warm regards, David


Drash on Parashat Shemini

Rabbi Stanton Zamek
United Jewish Congregation, Hong Kong

I have no way of verifying this, but I believe I spend much more time thinking about pigs than the average Rabbi. I walk on Victoria Peak every day and I almost always encounter wild boar while I am getting my exercise. Being a wildlife enthusiast, I often stop to watch them. Sharing the walking paths in the park with the Eurasian wild boar, Hong Kong’s largest native land mammal, is a little taste, you should excuse the expression, of Hong Kong’s surprisingly rich natural environment.
Very often, I am close enough to touch these creatures-- all the regular walkers and runners are--though I like to kid myself that the boars don’t run from me because they know I don’t see them as food. Parashat Shemini keeps them safe:
The following, however, of those that either chew the cud or have true hoofs, you shall not eat. . . the swine—although it has true hoofs, with the hoofs cleft through, it does not chew the cud: it is unclean for you.
I am not sure my porcine friends would appreciate being called “unclean,” given the moral connotation of this translation of the Hebrew tamei. The Biblical Hebrew term is, however, a purely ritual category. Pigs are tamei, meaning not that they are hygienically or morally “dirty,” but that they, along with most of the animal kingdom, are unfit for Israelite consumption. The pig is unique in Parashat Shemini’s list of tamei mammals in that it fails the cud chewing, rather than the cleft hoof test, but there is nothing to suggest that the pig is some kind of super-treif. 
It remains true that pork isn’t any more unkosher than shrimp, parrots, lizards, or rabbits, but over the centuries it has grown into a potent symbol, a kind of treif super-villain. In a sense pig/pork has become a Jewish symbolic food, whether one eats it or not.

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




Subscribe to our news updates

Keep up to date with our latest news and events. Subscribe to receive the UPJ Weekly News & Drash.

Find a Congregation Near You

Find a jewish congregation near you Jewish Community of Japan Kehilat Shanghai Kehillat Beijing United Jewish Congregation of Hong Kong Thailand Progressive Jewish Community United Hebrew Congregation Kehilot Brit Beracha (Indonesia) Rodef Shalom Jewish Religious Union (Mumbai) Temple David Congregation Beit Shalom Synagogue Progressive Congregation of the ACT Jewish Community Tasmanian Union for Progressive Judaism Dunedin Jewish Congregation Beth Shalom Temple Sinai Congregations in Victoria Congregations in NSW Congregations in QLD