Weekly News & Drash: 12/13 August 2022


Weekly News & Drash 12/13 August 2022

UPJ Biennial Conference 2022
Just three weeks left before the early-bird deadline ... 
don't miss your chance to save $100!


The enthusiastic response to Rabbi Sergio Bergman's two-week visit to Australia in March when he spoke
on behalf of the UIA Progressive Appeal prompted the UPJ to ask him to return for the Biennial on
17-20 November, providing an even wider reach for his inspiring messages. 
Rabbi Bergman has had a remarkable career (pictured left with friend and mentor Pope Francis);
CLICK HERE to read and be inspired!

Early-bird registration is open through 31 August: CLICK HERE

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.  



Invitation to subscribe to Jewels of Elul
Each year since 2014, the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors (ARC), formerly known as the "Moetzah", has offered Elul Reflections to members in our region: inspiring messages for each day of the month of Elul in preparation for the High Holy Days. This year, after receiving a special invitation from our dear friend Dr Ron Wolfson, we would like to invite you to subscribe to Jewels of Elul, the US-based subscription that our Elul Reflections was based upon. You can also read past "Jewels" on the website (https://www.jewelsofelul.com) dating back to 2005 - lots of inspiration! If you would like to subscribe, you just need to CLICK HERE to receive a jewel-a-day ... Elul begins on 26 August! 

Social Justice Summit: 28 August at Emanuel Synagogue

The annual Social Justice Summit will take place on Sunday 28 August at Emanuel Synagogue. Co-hosted by Plus61J, Emanuel Synagogue, Stand Up and Shalom College, the Summit will focus on gender equity in NSW Jewish organisations. CLICK HERE to register.






Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA President and UPJ Vice-President

Israeli Elections - 5th Wave

What better way to discuss Israeli politics than to invite three Israelis to meet and have a discussion? This happened last night when ARZA Australia and PJV (Progressive Judaism Victoria) jointly hosted a zoom panel with guests Anna Kislanski, CEO of the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) visiting Australia, Sefi Shalam our Victorian Netzer Shaliach and we are told a Political Geek and Orit Elkayam Cohen here in Australia representing the Jewish Agency.

For over an hour these three gave their opinions on what is happening during this crazy time in Israel with yet another election, the fifth in less than 4 years and only a year after an unusual Coalition of parties came together with Naftali Bennett as  Prime Minister. After the collapse of the Coalition Yair Lapid under the Coalition agreement took over the Prime Ministership. He has the task of both governing Israel until November and trying to run an election campaign at the same time.

A couple of weeks into his Prime Ministership he is having to steer Israel through yet another conflict with Gaza named Breaking Dawn. This time the focus is on Islamic Jihad, not Hamas.

What became obvious during the panel discussion is that Israeli politics is all about “Identity Politics”. Most of the discussion centred on the main rivals in this election, Lapid, Netanyahu and Gantz. There was very little focus on party policies or philosophy. It seems all about which person can do the deals to win the most seats in the Knesset. That is 50% plus 1, out of the 120 seats. It was even agreed that even the Heredi would go with which ever party will give them the monetary benefits they seek  through government subsidies.

Some other parties are only interested in stopping Netanyahu becoming PM, and not so much unwilling to combine with Likud. However, there seemed to be agreement amongst our panellists that we would not see a coalition like the one that formed last year. It seems that the true battle will be between Gantz and Netanyahu.

In the meantime, Lapid and Gantz, two political rivals striving to be PM appear, to everyone’s surprise, to be working collaboratively in managing the GAZA conflict in the middle of an election campaign. Even the Opposition led by Netanyahu admits that things are going well for Yair Lapid.

However, our panellists did not give him much hope of being able to form Government. One interesting outlier mentioned was the Arab party, worth 6 seats. From my perspective, if this party manages to survive and get people out to vote they may be in an interesting bargaining position.

But like everything in Israeli politics, no-one really knows, and everyone has a different opinion.

Our thanks to each of our panellists Anna, Sefi and Orit for an interesting evening.


      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM


Anna Kislanski, has been in the role of CEO of the Israel Movement of Progressive Judaism for just under one year. She has just completed a whirlwind 10-day visit to our region.

In Sydney, she led the Emanuel Synagogue “Conversations about Israel” class, which was particularly well attended both live and online, met with the UIA and the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, had a guided visit at the Sydney Jewish Museum, had meetings with our rabbis and lay leaders at both North Shore Temple Emanuel and Emanuel Synagogue, and had a fantastic visit at Emanuel School, including a very enlightening discussion with the Jewish Studies team, out of which we expect some opportunities for greater connection between our day schools and IMPJ schools, and educators and youth leaders to follow. There was also a dinner on Thursday evening with the Sydney-based members of the UPJ Executive who were in town, with a wide range of topics being discussed.

In Melbourne, Anna addressed Temple Beth Israel’s congregation on Friday night followed by dinner with 12 other guests at the Robucks, and addressed the Shabbat morning congregation at Leo Baeck Centre for Progressive Judaism. She joined for Tisha b’Av commemorations co-hosted by the Progressive congregations and Kehilat Nitzan, visited the new Netzer House and met with Helen Shardey about the upcoming Taglit tour. She spoke for the Progressive Judaism Victoria online event “Israel Elections: 5th Wave”, met with JAFI representative Orit Elkayam Cohen, and addressed staff and senior students at The King David School. She also met with other members of the UPJ Melbourne-based Executive team.

Anna will be spending a day with our wonderful community in Singapore before heading home, no doubt exhausted.

And she has undertaken to assist with recruitment of our new Shlichim for Melbourne and Sydney.

Yes, indeed, relationships do matter. 

                                                                                                       Warm regards, David

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.

Drash on Parashat Va'etchanan 

Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky
Beit Shalom Synagogue, Adelaide, South Australia

Embraced by Hope

We Jews take multiple journeys through time each year. For three months in a row in what is the Australian summer and Israeli winter and spring, we mark the full moon: Tu B’Shvat, Purim and then finally Pesach. At Pesach, we begin a 50 day countdown to Shavuot and the gift of the Torah. And many appreciate that the countdown to Yom Kippur does not really begin on Rosh Hashanah but rather a full month before that with the start of the month of Elul.

Or does it? In truth, the countdown to the season of repentance can be seen to start a full seven weeks before Rosh Hashanah. It begins with this Shabbat, which is known as Shabbat Nachamu. The previous week, we have marked the lowest day of the year: Tisha B’Av, when we call to mind the many disasters that have befallen the Jewish people—most of all, the destruction of the ancient Temple at the hand of the Babylonians. Tisha B’Av is a day of such hopelessness that tradition tells us that God does not hear our prayers on this day. From here, there is nowhere to go but up!

On the following Shabbat, we begin our slow ascent into the light with the reading of the first of a series of seven beautiful haftarah portions. All are taken from the second half of the book of Isaiah, a lyrical collection of poetry written by an unknown author at the time of the Bablylonian exile. The start of this week’s haftarah portion draws us in with the first words: “Be comforted, be comforted My people!” Each of the seven haftarah portions is full of words of reassurance to a people traumatised by the recent destruction of the Temple and the loss of their precious land. In those weeks, the Torah portions lead us through the farewell speeches of Moses in Deuteronomy as he exorts the people to heed God’s mitzvot and remain faithful. We may feel called to account by his stern warnings, but then the haftarah portion wraps us in a soft, warm blanket of hope.

It can be difficult on the sombre day of Tisha B’Av to remember that Rosh Hashanah is less than two months away. The same is true for each of us when we encounter difficulties and sorrow in our lives. We may feel that we will never again escape from the darkness. But hopefully, we will emerge back into the light in our own time. The promise of the High Holy Days, when each of us encounter the possibility of remaking our lives, is not that far away.


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