Weekly News & Drash: 30/31 July 2021



Weekly News & Drash: 30/31 July 2021

Sign up to receive Elul Reflections
The Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors (ARC) of Australia, New Zealand and Asia has prepared a series of reflections for each of the 29 days in the month of Elul, the month preceding the High Holy Days, as a period of self-examination and spiritual deepening. It is our hope that these reflections will encourage meaningful preparation for the High Holy Days. Elul begins on 9 August. If you would like to receive the daily email, each containing a new Elul reflection, please e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to subscribe. Note: If you have subscribed in past years, your email has already been included in the distribution list.

UPJ congregations' 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.

Rabbi offers fundraiser for Indonesian Progressive community
Rabbi David Kunin, who previously served the Jewish Community of Japan and currently is the rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom-Chevra Shas in Rochester, New York, 
has created 25 limited-edition, impressionistic photographs of Bali that are for sale for US$200 per photo. Proceeds will support the United Indonesian Jewish Community. To view/order photographs, CLICK HERE.

V-PJV Online explores: "Are we the Chosen People?"
Progressive Judaism Victoria's virtual series continues on Sunday 15 August with: "Are we the Chosen People? Exploring one of the hardest questions in Jewish morale" with panelists Rabbi Danny Schiff (Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh) and Rabbi Ronnie Figdor OAM (St Kilda Shule). CLICK HERE for the Zoom link. The series will continue with sessions offered one Sunday of each month through September.

Sign up to participate in "Reverse Tashlich"
Rabbi Ed Rosenthal, who served Beth Shalom in Auckland from 1987-91 and is currently the Executive Director/Campus Rabbi of Hillels of the Florida Suncoast, has created a meaningful program for Tashlich and is encouraging UPJ congregations to participate. Currently there are 59 teams registered from the US, Israel, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Sweden and Palau. To learn more, CLICK HERE to read the full article on the UPJ website, and to register, go to: https://www.repairthesea.org/our-members.

Intro to Judaism course features Rosh Hashanah/Yom Kippur
As part of this year's new 19-session online Introduction to Judaism course, Gesher Educational Services will offer two sessions on preparing for the High Holy Days on Monday 16 August (Rosh Hashanah) and Monday 30 August (Yom Kippur), both at 7.30pm and taught by Rabbi Gary Robuck. Attendance is welcome for those who only want to attend the two High Holy Days sessions and not necessarily the entire course. To find out more, CLICK HERE.


Rabbi Morgan's 6-week Lehrhaus course
Rabbi Fred Morgan will teach a six-week live, online course "Encountering the religious other: Modern Jewish thinkers on interfaith dialogue", beginning on 4 October through 8 November. The course, presented via Zoom by the Leo Baeck College, is open and accessible to Australian participants; cost is £90. CLICK HERE to learn more, and email Jarek at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to enrol. 


Hanukkah Homecoming to unite Progressives worldwide
Dr Ron Wolfson has issued an invitation for UPJ congregations to join a growing coalition of worldwide congregations and organisations to come together during the weekend of 3-5 December for a worldwide rededication of our relational communities post-pandemic. It's free, flexible and fun: Ron's organisation, the Kripke Institute, will provide the platform and our congregations will organise the gatherings to "recount the things that befell us" and share ideas about how we can rededicate our efforts and "turn the lights back on" after the pandemic. CLICK HERE to learn more and to sign up for your congregation to participate. A map of the world will indicate your participation and link to your website ... New Zealand will be the first!  



      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM


For first time, the Olympics opening ceremony honoured Israeli athletes murdered in Munich in 1972.

The first Olympic village memorial was erected for the Sydney Olympics.On 15 October 1999, on Tower 14 (of the 19 towers named after previous host cities), a memorial to the 11 slain Israeli athletes was dedicated in the Olympic Plaza at Homebush Bay, Sydney.

The inscription is as follows: "They were swifter than eagles and stronger than lions" (2 Samuel 1:23) and  "God of compassion, let them find shelter in the shadow of your wings and may their souls be bound up in the bond of everlasting life" (From "Incantation for the deceased").

In other positive news, Pope Francis has restricted the use of the Latin Mass, a form of the liturgy favoured by traditionalist Catholics that calls for the conversion of the Jews, and that until 2008 included a reference to Jewish “blindness.” Back in In 2008, Pope Benedict had reaffirmed his commitment to Nostra Aetate and omitted the word “blindness” from the Good Friday prayer.

And Israeli tourists received a rose and a welcome beverage upon arrival at Marrakech-Menara International Airport, after taking the first commercial flight between Morocco and Israel on July 25, 2021. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that Pinhas Moyal, who arrived on the Israir flight, descended wearing a mask and carrying a bag in the Moroccan colours. “I am originally from Marrakesh,” he said. “I’ve come back here around 30 times, but this time, the trip has a special flavor. It’s as if it were the first time!”

These are events which give us cause for some hope in a world where Antisemitic actions are rife.

                                                                  Warm regards, David

Drash on Parashat Eikev
Rabbi Adi Cohen
Temple Shalom Gold Coast, Queensland

Becoming us, again
Birkat HaMazon

A community is not a building, nor a house. It is our extended Jewish family, our home away from home. It is the place where we share our moments of joy, where we find comfort when we mourn, where we affirm our Jewish identity amongst other Jewish people doing Jewish things. A community is a sense of longing and belonging: longing for God’s presence in our lives and belonging to our people. 

“And you will eat, and you will be satisfied, and you will bless Adonai your God, upon the good land that God has given you.” Birkat HaMazon (grace after a meal) is recited after a meal containing bread or similar foods (foods made from the five grains). Aside from Birkat Cohanim (the Priestly Blessing), it is the only blessing of biblical origin in our tradition, found in our Parasha this week. The fascinating thing about this blessing is our sages' sensitivity to the circles of community and belonging. 

Typically, the blessing is recited individually. One should express his or her gratitude to God for the mundane, just as for the profound. Eating however, in many occasions like Shabbat and festivals, is a family or a social gathering. 
When three adults or more eat bread as part of a meal, one should invite the others to join the blessing (the Zimmun). This will usually happen among the family or among an intimate group of people. When there are more than 10 adults, we add an extended Zimmun B’shem. This time, we are in a bigger social construct as part of a community. 

During the past year, due to the COVID19 pandemic, we have experienced a tremendous change in our individual and communal life. The individual and the family spheres have become our work, study and dwelling spaces. The public spheres, and our Beit Knesset among it, were out of reach. We learnt to form Zoom minyanim, to attend Shiurim on line, to sign up for weekly Divrei Torah and to log in to live streamed services. We had to find a way to be Jewish on our own; to say the blessing on our own. And we did. 

CLICK HERE to read Rabbi Cohen's full drash on the UPJ website.





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