Weekly News & Drash: 20/21 November 2020


Weekly News & Drash: 20/21 November 2020

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.

Yemen Blues - Live concert from Israel
Described by Time Out Magazine as "one of the most exciting bands in world music right now", Yemen Blues will perform an online concert (free of charge) on Sunday 22 November at 7.00pm, titled "We Shout Love - Say No to Racism". This special event is presented by Emanuel Synagogue and the Israeli Embassy. Click here for a taste of this amazing band, and to register to attend, click here.

Lehrhaus @ Leo Baeck College online classes
London-based Leo Baeck College's Lehrhaus is offering two courses as part of its online adult learning program, and is especially welcoming participation from our region as it offers the courses at suitable times for our time zones. The courses will run on Monday nights in February and Tuesday nights in March from 8.00-9.30pm (Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time). Rabbi Fred Morgan will teach "Judaism in the Universe of Faiths" on 1, 8, 15 and 22 February, and Dr Jakub Kowalewski will teach "The Heresies of Baruch Spinoza" on 2, 9, 16 and 23 March. For more information, click here.

WUPJ Chanukah celebration: Many Candles, One World
Go to: www.wupj.org/chanukah to learn more and click here to register to attend.


Mazel tov to ARC elected officers
At its meeting held in early November, the Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors elected its officers - mazel tov to all!

   Rabbi Nicole Roberts, Chair
   Rabbi Fred Morgan AM, Vice Chair
   Rabbi Shoshana Kaminsky, Treasurer
   Rabbi Jacqueline Ninio, Secretary


ARZA Updates
Helen Shardey, President

Well it has been a most unusual couple of weeks with the US election result still not accepted by the incumbent President, even though the election has been called in favour of his opponent Joe Biden.  

Of great interest to Zionists, Israelis and Jews around the world is what kind of President will Joe Biden be for Israel and the Jewish people. I think this has been on most people’s minds for quite a while.

Well I was fortunate to join a Zoom provided by AIJAC with Ehud Yaari, an Israeli commentator and journalist with an in-depth knowledge of Israeli, American and world political affairs. His view was that Biden is a good friend to Israel and that as a one-term President he will be free to make decisions because he doesn’t have to play to the gallery. He expressed the view that Biden may well be willing to go back to an agreement with Iran, but only if Iran is willing to comply with the restrictions, while noting that Iran currently holds uranium reserves far in excess of that agreed to in the original deal (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action).

He expressed the belief that any agreement with Iran would not come smoothly or easily, with Iran bargaining over every detail and not being eager to moving back to full compliance. He expressed the view that in the period before the inauguration of the next US President, Trump will be trying to build great sanctions against Iran and make it difficult for Biden to lift such sanctions.

On the other hand, it was Yaari’s expressed belief that Biden has a number of well-informed mainstream advisors who Israel knows and feels comfortable with. I have also been told that Biden was kept fully informed of the negotiations with the Arab States and is very supportive of the Abraham Accords. Yaari suggested that even though Abass was not cooperative with Kerry’s efforts to find peace under Obama, he appears to be more willing to talk again, now that the situation with the Arab States is different and there is a new American President. This will be an interesting space to watch.

Finally he suggested that Trump’s actions over the next six weeks should be monitored, to see what he may try to do in this sphere.

Please note, I hope to post an interesting interview with Gilad Kariv, the President of the IMPJ (Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism) on the ARZA website in a few days.







      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM


Just over a week ago we held our first Virtual Biennial. Judging by the submitted feedback survey responses, it was great success. This was achieved with great team effort by many individuals, as well as the participation of several affiliates. Normally at the conclusion of a conference or annual gathering the organisation tends to go into hibernation until the end of January. This will not happen this year.

Just a few days after the Biennial, we held a brief online AGM. We welcomed two new members to our team: Dorothy Graff joins as one of our Vice-Presidents and we also welcome Sue Silberberg and Danny Hochberg as Executive Committee members. At our first meeting in December we will complete the team by co-opting Josh Keller and Judi Hall.

Our Biennial Organising Committee has also had the opportunity to reflect on the online conference. We have taken note of where we excelled, but more importantly we have noted areas that need work, so that we can pay attention to those details in our next face-to-face conference in Sydney on 14-17 October 2021. Believe it or not, planning for 2021 has already commenced and we are pleased that Susan Kadar has willingly agreed to chair the Biennial once again. We have assured Susan it is not a lifetime appointment. Her attention to detail and the manner with which she brought it together, with the guidance of superwoman Jocelyn Robuck, made the choice an easy one.

November in the Jewish community is known as "AGM month". Most of the community organisations were originally incorporated in Victoria and are based on the July to June financial year. The Act specifies that AGMs must be held within five months upon completion of the year. Like all good Jewish organisations, most leave it to the last minute, so we are blessed with many AGMs during the month of November. In some cases, they were traditionally all-day affairs, but with Covid most are substantially shortened as online meetings . When all of these are completed by the end of the month, we may be able to take a break. We cannot go overseas. Interstate travel is a possibility, but with outbreaks still occurring there is still uncertainty. Maybe just stay at home and do the garden.

                                                             Warm regards, Brian

The 2019-2020 UPJ Annual Report has been published, which includes reports from congregations throughout Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Click here to read and download the report. To read and download the minutes of the 2020 UPJ AGM, click here.

UPJ announces winners of 2020 awards 

We are delighted to announce the winners of this year's UPJ Awards:

Ner Tamid Award
Dr Libby Appelboom (Kedem)
Judi Cohen (Temple Beth Israel)
Suzie Eisfelder (Etz Chayim Progressive Synagogue)
Jo Fletcher (Temple Shalom Gold Coast)
Judy Firestone (Etz Chayim Progressive Synagogue)
Rachel Gillespie (Beit Shalom Synagogue)
Rae Hesling (Temple Sinai)
Lorraine Jacobs (Beit Or v’Shalom, Brisbane)
Rebecca Kanthor (Kehilat Shanghai)
Alan Obrart (Emanuel Synagogue)
Mervyn Rudd (Beit Or v’Shalom, Brisbane)
Ruth Taft (Leo Baeck Centre)

Vatik Award
Ron Hoenig (Beit Shalom Synagogue)
Frank Moore (Etz Chayim Progressive Synagogue)

President's Award
Roger Mendelson (Temple Beth Israel)
Sharon Davis (North Shore Temple Emanuel)


Parashat Hashavua for Toldot 

Cantor George Mordecai
Emanuel Synagogue, Woollahra, NSW

The relationship between Jacob and Esau is probably one of the most intense and problematic stories in the Bible. Jacob is very important for us. It is through Jacob’s children that we trace our lineage as Israelites.

Yet that lineage was passed on to Jacob from his father, Isaac, by an act of deceit. It was not rightfully his. Jacob, on the urging of his mother, Rebecca, pretended to be his brother Esau in order to steal the birthright bestowed by his father, Isaac.

What is the Torah’s attitude to Jacob’s deceitful behaviour? Nehamah Leibowitz, a preeminent modern Biblical commentator, noted that from the moment he steals Esau’s birthright till his death a kind of "karmic retribution" is visited upon Jacob at every stage of his journey.

Click here
to read the full drash by Cantor Mordecai on the UPJ website.




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