Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Words from Yitzhak Herzog,
Words from Natan Sharansky, Jewish Agancy for Israel
Your presence, and your numbers, demonstrate that the IMPJ are a leading movement in the State of Israel. As I see it, Israel's Reform movement is advancing two important goals: Strengthening the ties between world Jewry and Israel - You deepen and strengthen Jewish education and identity in the Diaspora. The majority of world Jewry is not Orthodox and if we want to prevent assimilation, we need to find the right path. The Reform movement has a unique role to play in the struggle against assimilation. Read More...
Warm Welcome to Two
The Next Generation:
Message from Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Director, IMPJ
The theme of this year's gathering was Israeli prayer (Teffilah Yisraelit) and educators, community members and scholars discussed the history, renewal and personal meaning of prayer in our contemporary lives. We inaugurated the Barchu anthology, an IMPJ publication which examines Reform and Progressive approaches to prayer as well as a new edition of our Telem youth movement songbook.
We welcomed two new congregations, Hashahar, in the town of Even Yehuda, and Shirat Hayam in Haifa. We gave tribute to the accomplishments of our senior leaders and gave a central place to our youth and young leadership.
Honored guests included Natan Sharansky, Director of the Jewish Agency and Isaac Herzog, Minister of Social Affairs. They lauded our movement and expressed support for our endeavors.
We are grateful to our friends in Israel and overseas for their heartfelt involvement and support. We thank Rabbi Elliot Kleinman, Director of Advancing Reform Judaism, URJ and Joan Garson, President, Arzenu, for the honor of their presence. May we continue to advance from strength to strength for the benefit of Reform and Progressive Judaism and klal Yisrael.
In this newsletter, we share with you the fruits of our labor and the promise of our shared future.
An excerpt from his address at the 19th Annual IMPJ Biennial
With regard to social issues, I am in full agreement that the concept of the family unit is in a process of dynamic change (among Jews and in the world at large), and I agree with the Reform movement that we must move forward with the times and acknowledge the way men and women live today and recognize everyone's rights, including the rights of single-sex couples to be parents.
With regard to the issue of conversion, I agree with Natan Sharansky that the conversion law is problematic, and as a member of the Labor Party I didn't support the law as it was formulated. I believe that there is now consensus that the law until there it is amended in the next Knesset session.
Your presence, and your numbers, demonstrate that the IMPJ is a leading movement in the State of Israel. As I see it, Israel's Reform movement is advancing two important goals:
Strengthening the ties between world Jewry and Israel - You deepen and strengthen Jewish education and identity in the Diaspora. The majority of world Jewry is not Orthodox and if we want to prevent assimilation, we need to find the right path. The Reform movement has a unique role to play in the struggle against assimilation.
Strengthening Jewish identity among Israelis - Even proud Israeli Zionists sometimes overlook their ties to their 2,000 year old Jewish heritage. The Reform movement's investment in congregations across the country serves to strengthen this bond. The fact that the theme of this gathering is Israeli Prayer underscores this fact.
With regard to the conversion law, the principle guiding the law is good, and is intended to ease strain - but varied factors introduced have made the law problematic, and distance the majority of the Jewish people from Israel, as well as those who are already seeking to join the Jewish nation. I believe that the Prime Minister understands the inherent in problems the current version of the law, and asked me to convene a special committee at the Jewish Agency (the only one of its kind in the country) in which all of the religious movements will have their say. I will do so and the committee will convey its recommendations to the Prime Minister.
Today the IMPJ has 30 congregations and praying groups across the county. IMPJ strategic paln stated that by year 2010 we aim to reach 50 congregations and praying groups, turning Reform and Progressive Judaism accessible to all Israelis across the county.
In the spirit of the IMPJ strategic work plan, two new congregations were welcomed to the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism at the 2010 Biennial, and each new community represents the ways in which Reform and Progressive Judaism is responding to the needs of diverse Israelis.
The Hashachar Congregation is located in Even Yehuda, in Israel's central Sharon region. Its members include many young Israeli-born families, who are making a significant commitment to cultivating pluralistic and egalitarian Jewish expression in their homes and communities.
The Shirat Hayam congregation in Haifa comprises Russian speaking olim, whose parents and grandparents in the former Soviet Union were deprived of the opportunity to know their heritage. The members of the Shirat Hayam are motivated by their desire to explore and experience Jewish tradition and Israeli culture, and nurture a community that gives expression to their Jewish identity and their roots.
The inauguration of these two diverse congregations at the Biennial demonstrates IMPJ's capacity to provide a home and a broad-based community for Israelis from all walks of life who seek to renew and express their Jewish identity in keeping with their values and their way of life.
The first copies of this newly published work were eagerly grasped by participants at the Biennial. The 144-page volume, edited by Professor Rabbi Yehoyada Amir, Mike Nitzan and Naama Daphni-Kellen, is a publication of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, and it represents our aspiration to create a library which gives expression to Reform and Progressive approaches to the most compelling issues of contemporary Jewish life and thought. Hopefully this is the first volume in a series on Barchu. Currently the publication is in Hebrew but we hope that in the near future it will be translated to English and Russian.
Barchu - A Podium for the Renewal of Prayer in Israel is intended for everyone with a thoughtful interest in matters of prayer and everyone who cares deeply about the renewal of prayer and religious expression. The book is meant for those who find it difficult to pray, as well as those who love to pray. It speaks to those who seek to discover how prayer is imprinted on the reality of our lives. This book offers food for thought, and insightful and creative approaches for those who follow the religious path of Israeli Reform Judaism, as well as those who may be inquisitive, or on an entirely different paths. The book includes poetry and prose, academic inquiry and personal essays, and gives expression to the hope that words will lead to deeds and that the words will themselves become deeds.
Boaz Dorot, age 25, of Jerusalem, was educated in Israel's Reform movement schools from kindergarten (Gan Haim) through high school (Tali Bayit Vegan). He served as an IDF officer in the Golani Brigade, and is now the coordinator of the IMPJ youth movement, Noar Telem. This summer he will be the activities coordinator at the IMPJ's Rechler Camp Havaya. In the fall, he will enroll in the Jerusalem Academy of Music, where he will study composition.
What was the most moving moment of the Biennial for you?
The most meaningful moment for me was seeing the youth movement song leaders lead hundreds of Biennial participants of all ages in a musical and rousing Mincha service on the lawn of Kibbutz Shefayim. It was the first time that the youth movement was given such a prominent role at a Biennial event, and they more than rose to the occasion.
What was your role in this special prayer service?
I led a year-long workshop for Noar Telem (youth movement) songleaders. At the beginning, the participants (counselors ages 15-16) were almost too bashful to sing in front of one another, and they gradually gained the skills and capacity to lead a large community prayer service and bring to life the meaning and the spirit of the service. Their voices led the congregation through sunset and havdala. It was clearly a special experience for everyone who participated.
Tell us about the debut of the new IMPJ Shiron.
The third edition of the IMPJ youth movement's Shiron (songbook) was greeted with excitement at the Biennial Shahcarit service. The 250-page Shiron is an eclectic mix of prayers and traditional and contemporary Israeli songs. It's a very contemporary "people's choice" publication, with selections made through lively exchanges among counselors and youth - much of it conducted on a dedicated facebook page. The Shiron will be a tremendous resource here in Israel, and I hope it will also serve Reform/Progressive youth movements and counselors all over the world.