Weekly News & Drash: 16/17 2020


Weekly News & Drash: 16/17 October 2020

Click here
to register today -

Registrations close on 1 November! 

Record number of registrations for Virtual
There are currently more than 215 people registered to attend - a new record for the UPJ - and we expect the numbers to keep climbing! Don't miss your chance to learn with our team of presenters, including (from left): Judi Hall, Dr Josh Keller, Rabbi Sharon Brous, Rabbi Sergio Bergman, Alex Ryvchin, Eliza McCarrol and Uri Levin.


In this week's The Forward (12 October), previous two-time UPJ Biennial guest scholar Dr Ron Wolfson wrote an article titled “There’s no going back: What rabbis learned from the extraordinary High Holidays of 2020”. In the article, Ron highlighted the experiences of Reform congregations in the US, including Rabbi Sharon Brous and her Los Angeles congregation IKAR. True to form, IKAR "stepped out of the box" and invited three comedians to "warm up the crowd" on Yom Kippur morning! Rabbi Brous commented: “People were stunned by the intimacy of the experience and by their ability to actually pray with a screen mediating their spiritual encounter. Most notably, people with mobility challenges told us how grateful they were to be able to access services from their homes and not have to fight for a seat.” 

Rabbi Brous will open our Virtual Biennial this year, and plans to join us in person as our guest scholar at the Biennial in October 2021.

Click here to read Ron Wolfson's article in The Forward.

IMPORTANT NOTE: For registrants who cannot attend all sessions, recordings will be available, including plenary and parallel sessions.

to read more on the UPJ website, and CLICK HERE to register today!

Mazon's latest project: A Street Pantry

Ellen Frajman, chair of Mazon Australia, shared the following message:

Thank you to everyone who has supported the Sukkot Virtual Mazon Bag Appeal. We have raised over $8,000. If you have not yet donated, it is not too late. Please click on this link

I also want to tell you about our latest project in Melbourne: A Street Pantry. Click on this link for more details. If you are in Melbourne, we would love your support of this new project. If you are somewhere else in the region and would like to create a Street Pantry in your neighbourhood, please email me at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


ARZA Updates
Helen Shardey, President

The 38th World Zionist Congress convenes from
20-22 October 2020 - for the first time in its history, virtually. ARZENU and the WUPJ are represented by a strong delegation from around the world, including Australia. Here for your convenience are some online resources:

1. ARZENU Pre-Congress ProgramSunday October 11 to Monday October 19: CLICK HERE to visit ARZA website to see:

  • Program outline (in Israeli time): CLICK HERE
  • ARZA Australia Facebook page (the conference program will be live streamed): CLICK HERE

2. The World Zionist CongressTuesday October 20 to Thursday October 22

  • Outline of the World Zionist Congress Program: CLICK HERE
  • ARZA Australia Facebook page (congress will be live streamed): CLICK HERE

3. ARZA Australia activities over the year
ARZA Australia made a video about our activities over the year, which was sent to Israel for distribution by ARZENU to affiliates around the world. CLICK HERE to view the video on the ARZA website.

I hope, as part of the Progressive Movement here in Australia, you will take advantage of the opportunity to see and understand what happens in Israel at the World Zionist Congress. Eight members of ARZA Australia will be represented at the Congress either as Delegates or Deputy Delegates,  and have the opportunity to contribute to policies in support of our Progressive ideals. I hope you will join us.




      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM


This week in the “Pluralist”, Anat Hoffman has written about an Israeli Supreme Court ruling requiring Rabbi Shmuel Eliyhu, Chief Rabbi of Safed and Member of the Chief Rabbinic Court, to undertake disciplinary proceedings. 

That particular rabbi, who was supposed to be acting in the interests of the entire community, has been inciting racism against Arabs, discrimination against the LGBTQI community, discrimination against women in the Army and calling for public harassment of at least one Supreme Court Judge. 

Anat gives the following quote from Justice Stein of the Israeli Supreme Court to exemplify that which was wrong with the rabbi’s conduct:

"Statements that express a preference for a specific group over other groups and create an environment of discrimination, of bias, and of racism; political statements that take a position on political or societal topics that are debated in public discourse: these expressions are forbidden even if they are cloaked in Jewish law when it is clear that they are intended to be unnecessarily harmful and discriminatory.”

It is the Israel Religious Action Centre of our Progressive movement that has worked towards this ruling and to prevent further promotions for this particular rabbi.  We can be justly proud of their work.

Rabbis are communal exemplars.  A rabbi who incites harassment and discrimination is a poor exemplar indeed.

                                                  Warm regards, David

Parashat Hashavua for Bereishit

Rabbi Nicole Roberts
North Shore Temple Emanuel, Chatswood, NSW


Black Woman, Black Woman, my mother the earth,
Soul of my substance the rich black dirt,
Coloured blood red a black man's blood,
Absorbed for eternity by your endless love….

'Cause you are forever my mother the earth,
The soul of my substance the rich black dirt.
Coloured blood red, a Black Man's blood,
Absorbed for eternity by your endless love. [i]

I discovered this poem by Aboriginal poet “Riverbank Frank” Doolan last May – the week after African American George Floyd died, as a policeman knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes. The poem’s imagery reminded me of two dramatic events in the Torah: One, when the ground swallowed the rebel Korach, who had protested against Moses; the other, from this week’s parashah, when Abel’s blood cried out from the ground after he was killed by his brother, Cain. 

But the blood absorbed by the earth in Frank Doolan’s poem is specifically a black man’s blood. So it also recalls the contemporary image of Floyd pinned to the ground, as he suffocated to death. There are too many instances—in all countries—of mother earth embracing a son who dies by the hands of his own brother—embracing a son whose skin colour matches hers, be it the “rich black [Australian] dirt” of the poem, or the black tarmac of street pavement in Minneapolis.

Click here to read the full drash by Rabbi Roberts on the UPJ website.

UPJ congs' online Shabbat services, 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.







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