The debate about the future and the dilemmas that are a part of the everyday life of Progressive Judaism in contemporary society was the main topic of the 4th Conference of the Jewish Communities in Latin America, which brought together, on August 8th to the 12th, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, close to 300 representatives of various entities from the host country and also from Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States and Israel.
The meeting was organized by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), together with the Argentinean institutions AIP (Israeli Association of the Pampas); CIRA – Libertad Temple; NCI Emanuel Community; Judaica Foundation; and Mishkan – Center of Jewish Spirituality.
The conference had over 40 lecturers in 15 panels and four plenary sessions that discussed religious studies as well as topics such as the relationship of young people with Israel; the anti-Israel movements; the equilibrium between tradition and modernity; innovation in the religious services within the synagogue; the vision of Avraham Yeoshua Heschel; Zionism and the social and political panorama in Israel.
The conference began with an emotional celebration of the delivery of the Sefer Torah, donation of Mr. David Igdaloff and his wife Nilma founders of the Asociación de las Pampas, to the Associação Israelita do Ceará, received by Mr. Pablo Schejtman.
The organizers of the conference considered it essential to have the support and presence of representatives of various entities of the Jewish community in Argentina and Latin America such as AMIA, DAIA, OSA, Chazon Arteinu, Avoda, B'nei Brith, CAMI, CJL – Latin American Jewish Congress, CONIB/Brazil, FISESP/Brazil and UJCL – Union of Jewish Congregations of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The religious services held during the conference were moments filled with great emotions for the participants where they were all able to perceive their common roots and traditions. The religious services also reinforced the feeling of fraternization, integration and exchange among the various institutions and their representatives.
On Friday night, the Kabalat Shabbat was held at the Libertad Temple, first synagogue in Argentina, declared a National Historical Monument. The ceremony was conducted by Rabbi Sergio Bergman who honored Jerry Tanenbaum, President of the Yad B'Yad Task Force of the WUPJ, for the contributions to the Judaica Foundation.
Afterwards, a festive dinner expressed the contagious happiness of the conference participants, who in a vibrant manner showed all of the energy of the Latin American "beat". The musical presentation was conducted by Diego Rubinsztein of the band Zamaj.
On Saturday, the Shabbat service was conducted by Rabbi Gabriel Mazer, representing Rabbi Ruben Nisenbom, honored at the occasion, at the Mishkan Center of Jewish Spirituality.
The Havdala, at the Marriott Hotel, was led by Rabbi Joel Oseran, Vice President of International development of the WUPJ, with special emphasis on the attendance of young conference participants and of the Judaica Foundation, coordinated by Adrian Fada, student of the Marshall T. Mayer Rabbinical Seminar in Buenos Aires and by the Chazanim Alexandre Edelstein and Diego Rubinsztein.
At the conference closing, Rabbi Michael Marmur conducted an excellent presentation with the topic "God in search of man". Marmur is Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion.
The conference ended with a great fraternization between the attending public, organizers and volunteers, all with the desire to continue the debates and think of the future. The next meeting – of international scope – already has a set date: Connections 2013 WUPJ 36th International Biennial Conference on May 1st to the 5th in Jerusalem, Israel.
3rd Conference of Jewish Communities in Latin America -
Rio de Janeiro - 2008
From July 10th to the 13th, Rio de Janeiro, the "Marvelous City", was the location of the third edition of the Conference of the Jewish Communities in Latin America, which every two years, demonstrates its acceptance among the leaders, volunteers, professionals and young people of the Jewish community in our continent. This year, the theme of the Conference was – "Sounds and Flavors of Latin American Judaism".
Music, of course, was present in various moments, having as the high points, the opening show by the singer Julie silver, a wonderful Shabbat at the ARI synagogue and the unforgettable Havdalá on Copacabana beach.
Leading figures were present in Rio de Janeiro such as: the Israeli Ambassador in Brazil, Tzipora Rimon; Jack Terpins, President of the Latin American Jewish Congress and of CONIB; Sergio Niskier, President of the FIERJ; Boris Ber, President of the FISESP; the congressmen Marcelo Itagiba and Walter Feldman, as well as the Rabbi Uri Regev, Executive President of the WUPJ; Steve Bauman, President of the WUPJ/USA; Stephen Breslauer, Member of the Yad b' Yad Task Force; Anat Hoffmann, Executive Director of the Israeli Religious Action Center and others.
This third edition of the Conference of the Jewish Communities in Latin America, left many messages and challenges, due to the number of participants, to the involvement of the delegations, to the interest of the media and the number of sponsors. It was four days of an intense program, which resulted in the participants leaving Rio de Janeiro invigorated and enthusiastic with regard to Progressive Judaism – a modern and realistic interpretation of our ancient faith.
On the agenda were themes such as: bioethics, confrontation between religion and science, the Israeli society at the age of 60, the Jewish-Islamic relations throughout history, youth participation, Jewish education and the future of our community.
Furthermore, the Conference provided a space for "SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY PROJECTS", a unique opportunity for the presentation and exchange of experiences among the communities of various countries that were present.
The "Successful Projects" reports were exhibited on posters distributed throughout the Conference location and were the subject of detailed presentations by their coordinators to the public, followed by a session of debates and questions.
The conference had the presence of over 50 young people from all over Latin America, of which 15 were from the TaMar – a worldwide college group of the WUPJ, who were present and active in various sessions.
"Sounds and Flavors of Latin America Judaism" was much more a debate than an exposition. It was a happy event open to knowledge, showing that liberal Judaism is based on authentic manifestations of Jewish creativity, ancient and modern, particularly those that emphasize spirituality and desire to learn what God expects from us: justice and equality, democracy and peace, personal fulfillment and collective obligations, reacting to modernity at the same time that it perpetuates the Jewish experience.
2nd Conference of Jewish Communities in Latin America -
Punta Del'Este - 2006
The meeting brought together leaders and activists in Punta del Este, Uruguay, 16-19 November.
The Conference was conducted jointly by the two main religious movements related to liberal Judaism, the World Council of Conservative Masorti Judaism (Masorti Olami) and the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) and had participants and representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela and Uruguay.
This meeting was a result of the first encounter that occurred in may, 2004 in São Paulo. The purpose of this meeting transcended the particular aspects of each Jewish community, be it Reform, Conservative or Progressive.
Among the challenges that the different religious groups have in common, are the efforts to preserve the Jewish values, attract non-affiliated Jews, youth education and the establishment of Conservative and Progressive Judaism as a relevant option in the contemporary society.
Besides the aspects already mentioned, some themes deserve the special attention of the organizers of the event and shall be a priority during the debates that will be conducted. Among them is the growing number of Jewish families who face financial difficulties in the countries within Latin America; assimilation; the lack of knowledge of a large part of the Jewish community with regard to the various options offered by the liberal congregations.
1st Conference of Jewish Communities of Latin America -
São Paulo - 2004
This was the first time that representatives of Jewish communities in Latin America gathered to defend a common cause: the future of Judaism.
The conference, sponsored by the movement World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) took place between April 29 and May 2, 2004 in São Paulo. The event aimed to discuss the current situation and the direction of institutions that follow the Liberal Judaism, Reform, Conservative or Progressive, as they face similar challenges in their efforts to preserve Jewish values, attracting unaffiliated Jews, education Young and the establishment of the Liberal Judaism as relevant option for the new century.
The meeting brought together representatives of the Jewish community (rabbis, leaders and opinion makers) national and international (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Colombia, U.S. and Israel. During the event, singer Debbie Friedman perform an incredible show at the club "A Hebraica."