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מסורת של התחדשות יהודית

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Shevat 5778 Newsletter

‏יום רביעי ‏31 ‏ינואר ‏2018

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Dear Friends,

I rarely write about my personal life, however, this month I would like to share with you my and my family’s joy and happiness as my eldest daughter Amalyah will be called to the Torah and become a Bat Mitzvah, on the last Shabbat of January. She was also honorably called to the Torah yesterday morning at the Women of the Wall’s Rosh Hodesh service at the Kotel.

A daughters Bat Mitzvah, naturally, brings about many emotions, perhaps most apparent, pride. Pride as a father knowing all the effort she has put into this moment and pride as she claims her place among Am Yisrael. While I am always proud of our Movement’s work in egalitarian Jewish life cycle events, and in particular giving young girls a chance to have a Bat Mitzvah, this experience has allowed me to appreciate personally the opportunities that we are able to provide for thousands of other girls like my daughter. On this day, she should not feel that she is doing something out of the ordinary, or taboo. She should feel, just as a boy doing his Bar Mitzvah does, that she is part of a rich and holy tradition, and part of a people.

This month we will celebrate the holiday of Tu B’shevat, a celebration of nature, planting, and growth. When reflecting on Tu B'shevat and on my personal experience as the father of a soon to be Bat Mitzvah, I am reminded of the famous legend about Honi the circle maker –
"One day, he was walking along the road when he saw a certain man planting a carob tree. Ḥoni said to him: This tree, after how many years will it bear fruit? The man said to him: It will not produce fruit until seventy years have passed. Ḥoni said to him: Is it obvious to you that you will live seventy years that you expect to benefit from this tree? He said to him: That man himself found a world full of carob trees. Just as my ancestors planted for me, I too am planting for my descendants".
(Bavli Taanit 23a)


May every Bat and Bar Mitzvah that we perform, every care-package that we give out, every new Kehilla that we build around Israel, every school that uses our progressive Jewish curriculum, and every conversion that we perform, be the seeds that flourish into a pluralistic and democratic Israel, for generations to come. 
 
Sincerely,
Rabbi Gilad Kariv 
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Public Affairs Updates 
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On Sunday morning, January 14th the IMPJ, along with our partners from the Masorati Movement and Women of the Wall, had our petition for equality at the Kotel heard by an expanded panel at the Supreme Court of Israel.
Summarized in a joint statement by Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and Rabbi Noa Sattath, Director of IRAC: "During the over four hour hearing, we showed them videos of the harassment of participants at monthly Women of the Wall prayers, and of the guards being violent towards people carrying Torah scrolls. The judges showed deep concern, and Chief Justice Hayut questioned why we are not allowed to use the Torah scrolls on site. She was answered, matter-of-factly, that all of the Torah scrolls are in the men's section. The judges also asked about the fences built around the wall to hide the Robinson's Arch area, and requested more written material from the government. We received the preliminary court decision today requesting more information from the State, and giving them three months to supply concrete plans for the Kotel renovations. It is going to take the court months, at the very least, to come to a decision. During that time, we will continue to fight. We will fight for equality at the Western Wall - publicly and legally - until we get the equality we deserve."
Holidays and Events 
Tu B'shevat
 
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From its first mention in the Mishna around 200 CE, to the present day, Tu B’shevat has taken on many different meanings, thus inspiring many different traditions. Originally mentioned as the “New Year of the Trees” this day was marked very differently throughout our history. From a day signaling the beginning of the tax year for arable produce, to the Tu B’shevat Seder invented by Kabbalists; from a celebration of the Land of Israel, to a day where we should be aware of our Ecological footprint.
Read Rabbi Gilad Kariv's article about the fascinating history of this Holiday, how it was shaped by different generations of Jews and how we celebrate it in Israel today. 
Jewish Disability and Awareness Month 
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Next month is Jewish Disability and Awareness Month. In honor of this month we would like to share with you an emotional Mi She-Berach blessing, written by Dr. Ruhama Weiss, Director of Blaustein Center for Pastoral Counseling at Hebrew Union College. She wrote this prayer from her own experience being a mother of a child with disabilities and presented it during “Inclusion Shabbat”, celebrated in our congregations during December.
The theme of inclusion and awareness of inclusion was woven in throughout the service, with special prayers, songs and readings added from a text collection made for this occasion. 
 
Meet this Year's
Israeli Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellows! 
 
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Each year, Reform Jewish young adults are chosen from all over the world for The Union for Reform Judaism’s Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowship. The fellowship brings together innovative young global Jewish leaders to develop their leadership potential, while learning from and with each other more about progressive Jewish life through spiritual, social justice, cultural, and educational frames. Each fellow must work on a project that enhances the progressive Jewish community. Gabi and Yiftach (top) are planning to run holiday programming for young Israeli adults, making sure that each holiday has a progressive Jewish alternative for the young populations of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Omri and Naomi are working on a program for Olim (New Immigrants), that allows them to transition into "Tlamim", the IMPJ's young adult movement,  programming with ease. 
All of the fellows just finished their Israeli Seminar, which included visits to IMPJ congregations, meetings with Israeli Reform Rabbis and learning about "Tlamim". 
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DOMIM– aLike - the IMPJ's Israel-Diaspora relations project, established together with the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora Affairs - fosters partnerships between Reform and Progressive congregations in Israel and around the world. 
Coming Soon -
IMPJ's Israel at 70 Website 
 
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This coming month of Iyar (May 2018), Israel will be celebrating 70 years of independence. For this occasion, the IMPJ is developing a designated website, rich with materials and educational resources. 

In each of the coming months, we would like to share with you one of the articles or resources that will appear on this special website. This month we invite you to explore the relationship between David Ben-Gurion - Israel's first Prime Minister - and the Reform Movement, in a fascinating article by Ph.D. Student-Rabbi David Bark Goredetzky.
 
Meet Israeli Reform Rabbis:
Rabbi Rinat Safania-Schwartz
 
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"In recent years, I have been deeply involved with two large Reform congregations in the Diaspora ... It has been very inspiring to see how entire generations grow up calling these congregations home! In my visits to the congregations, I was exposed to the reality of being a religious minority as opposed to the situation in the State of Israel, and to the importance of the everyday choice of your Jewish and religious identity."


Rabbi Rinat Safania-Schwartz is the founding rabbi of Kehillat Shoham, and Rabbi of the Modi’in Regional Council.
Save the Date: 1-2 June 2018
 IMPJ BIENNIAL
 
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