Weekly News & Drash: 2/3 December 2022


Weekly News & Drash 2/3December 2022


UPJ congregations' online services and programs
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 virtual Shabbat and daily minyan services, online courses, and a diverse range of interesting and innovative programs, CLICK HERE.  

Creating & Maintaining Healthy Jewish Organisations
Progressive Judaism Victoria and Shalom Bayit will co-host this workshop designed to strengthen relationships, create equitable and safe working environments and become better communicators on Sunday 11 December, 2.00-4.00pm (online). There is no cost for PJV affiliated organisations; $500 for non-PJV affiliated organisations and businesses for up tp 10 participants per organisation or business. A Zoom link will be emailed to participants upon registration. CLICK HERE to register.

Beth Shalom Auckland seeking Jewish professional
Beth Shalom is seeking a Jewish Educator and Community Engagement Professional, beginning in January 2023. The role will be 30 hours per week and the ideal candidate will have a BA (MA in Jewish Education from an accredited institution is preferred), at least three years of experience in Jewish education, teaching both children and adults, and administrative skills to run a part-time Jewish school. To learn more, CLICK HERE, and send expressions of interest, including up-to-date CV and contact information, to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Leo Baeck Centre seeking rabbi (or student rabbi)

LBC in Melbourne is looking for an energetic, engaging and open-minded rabbi (or student rabbi), with strong and inclusive social values, including an environmental understanding, to lead its community. The position is full-time or part-time, from February 2023; short-term or student placement enquiries are welcome. To learn more about LBC, visit https://lbc.org.au/ and to receive a full position description, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Save the date: WUPJ Connections 2023 in Jerusalem

Mark your diaries to attend the World Union for Progressive Judaism's Connections Conference on 3-6 May 2023 in Jerusalem! Registration will open in early December. Check the WUPJ website and follow them on social media to keep posted on updates.



Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA President and UPJ Vice-President


The Jewish world, particularly the Progressive/Reform Jewish world has expressed deep concern over the direction of the new far-right Coalition being formed to govern Israel after the recent election.

It is agreed that the election result delivered a decisive victory for the largest political party in Israel and therefore the possibility of some political stability after years of failed governments. But the very deep and probably well-found fear is that the fabric of Israeli society and its democracy are at risk, as are Jewish/Arab and international relations.

Of course, it should be conceded that the population living in a free and democratic society preserves the right to choose their government and we should all respect this choice. However, we, as Jews with a vested interest in Eretz Israel also preserve the right to offer criticism of the way Israel is being governed if we believe the rights of the Jewish people are being trampled on, or  the Right of Return to Israel is being unfairly denied.

We take this view because for most of us Israel remains an important part of who we are.

Views expressed in Israel and the Diaspora about these issues are mounting. A report received today from IRAC described an act of terror which took place last Friday by Jewish extremists aimed at Arabs. “This time they burned 5 cars in  two Arab villages of Abu Ghosh and Ein Naqquba”. Graffitied  slogans read “Am Yisrael Chai and Deportation for Arabs”.

IRAC took action to make it clear that “Racism is not our Judaism” organising a demonstration for those wishing to “show solidarity and support for the citizens” of these model Arab villages.

“We wanted to show our fierce opposition to racism and incitement expressed by members of the incoming government coalition”. Apparently within hours  a WhatsApp group of nearly 900 Israelis formed to keep people informed about the demonstration and future campaigns.

The demonstration was joined by the head of the Racism Crisis Centre which works together with the IRAC legal team monitoring and reporting on racist incitement, especially by Israeli leaders and politicians.

The view was expressed that the fact so many Israelis were prepared to join IRAC in publicly expressing their opposition to what many believe is Government Coalition inspired racism, does demonstrate that there is a glimmer of hope and that as Chanukah approaches that light will prevail over darkness in Eretz Yisrael.


      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM


I write this week having just completed our AGM. The UPJ has completed another successful year.  Our finances are in an excellent shape thanks to the hard work of our Treasurer Sally Castle, who has been an absolute gem. She continues in that role for another 12 months, but at the same time we welcome Andrew Blencowe onto our Executive Committee. Andrew will be working closely with Sally and will transition into the role of Treasurer at our next AGM.

We also welcome Danny Hochberg as one of our new Vice-Presidents. To our Executive, we welcome Amanda Mace from Perth, who previously held the role of President of Temple David. In brief, you will be able to see the full list on our website and I am pleased to say that almost all Australian states and New Zealand are represented. As the new Executive settles in over the New Year, we will also try to co-opt individuals from the Asian communities to round off a collaborative group.

There has also been change in the Moetzah-ARC, with Rabbi Allison Conyer assuming the chair. The UPJ wants to thank Rabbi Nicole Roberts for her contribution over the last couple of years, but I am sure from time to time we will continue to call upon her wisdom, as we do with all our rabbis from across the region.

Warm regards, Brian

Drash on Parashat Vayeitzei    
Rabbi Allison Conyer
Etz Chayim Progressive Synagogue, East Bentleigh, VIC


Consumed with fear and self-preservation after his elaborate deception to obtain his father’s final blessing in place of his older brother, Jacob fled his home in search of a new life. Overcome with exhaustion, Jacob found a certain place to sleep for the night.  With his makeshift stone pillow, he dreamt of angels going up and down a ladder reaching from the ground to the sky. God was standing beside him, reiterating the covenantal message God gave to Abraham saying:

“I am יהוה, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac: the ground on which you are lying I will assign to you and to your offspring. Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Gen. 28:13-15).

Jacob awoke, awed by his encounter, or awareness of the Divine, and said, “Adonai was in this place, and I, I did not know.” He anointed the stone upon which his head had laid, and called the place Bethel, meaning house of God.

Jacob then made a vow, saying, “If God remains with me, protecting me on this journey that I am making, and giving me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and I return safe to my father’s house— יהוה shall be my God" (Gen. 28:20-21).

Wow! What a truly awesome experience. To see the connection between the physical and spiritual is to be the place where human and divine meet. Not to merely be in the place of meeting, but to actually be the place of human-Divine convergence.

This is an excerpt from Rabbi Conyer's drash. To read the full drash on the UPJ website, CLICK HERE.




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