Weekly News & Drash: 3/4 February 2023


Weekly News & Drash 3/4 February 2023


Shir Chadash open for early-bird registration!


The Union for Progressive Judaism is delighted to host its fifth Jewish music conference, 
Shir Chadash, on 14-16 April 2023 at the Eden Oak Conference Centre in Geelong. 
Titled "Kol Ha'Olam Kulo: Jewish Music from Around the World",
the conference will build skills for individuals who sing in choirs, as well as those who enjoy
singing informally in their congregations. It is for all who love Jewish music. 
Our faculty will be led by the chair of the UPJ Music Network, Cantor Michel Laloum,
and Rabbi George Mordecai, Judy Campbell and Andrea Catzel.  
We encourage the leadership of all congregations in the region to allocate a budget
for assisting their mostly volunteer musicians to attend this three-day event.  

Complete your early-bird registration before 1 March and save $50: 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.  

TBI celebrates Pride

Temple Beth Israel invites you to an annual Pride Weekend: Shabbat service on Friday 3 February at 6.15pm; Midsummer Pride March on Sunday 5 February at 11.00am-2.00pm at the Ian Johnson Oval, St Kilda. 

WUPJ Connections open for registration

The World Union for Progressive Judaism's Connections Conference on 3-6 May 2023 in Jerusalem is now open for registration! CLICK HERE to read more about this exciting conference and to register. 

Connections to partner with Beutel and Women's Seminar
The World Union for Progressive Judaism is proud that two exciting leadership seminars will be part of Connections 2023 conference: the WRJ Wilkenfeld International Women’s Leadership Seminar and the Beutel Seminar for Progressive Jewish Leadership. CLICK HERE to learn more and register today.



Drash on Parashat B'shalach

Rabbi Stanton Zamek
United Jewish Congregation, Hong Kong

Parashat Beshalach gives us the most glorious moment in the Exodus story - The Splitting of the Sea, celebrated in The Song of the Sea, the victory hymn sung by Moses and the Israelites as they march to freedom.
This episode highlights for us that the story of the Exodus is as much a story of the failure of nerve as it is of triumph. Again and again, the Israelites’ faith fails them. They believe that they do not have what it takes to complete this journey.  We see this lack of confidence even before the Israelites depart Egypt. The people cannot hear Moses’ message of liberation because of their “kotzer ruach”, their shortness of spirit. 
It would be easy to judge our ancestors for their weakness, but to do so is to judge ourselves.  The Torah is a mirror that shows us what we are and gives us insight into our own experience. This is why the Haggadah enjoins us to see ourselves as having been personally redeemed from Egypt. We are meant to understand that at any moment we can find ourselves in Mitzrayim, meaning not the Egypt of the Pharaohs, but our own place of narrowness of heart or mind that prevents us from being truly free. 
This is an excerpt of Rabbi Zamek's drash; to read the full drash on the UPJ website, CLICK HERE

May her memory be a blessing: Ruth Cohen z"l
The Union for Progressive Judaism mourns the passing of Ruth Cohen z"l. Ruth served in influential positions in the Reform movement in Israel and globally. She was an active member in Kehillat Raanan in Raanana and among the founders of an Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) congregation in Herziliya-Pituach; an Honorary Life President of the European Union for Progressive Judaism; and a former Chair of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Together with her late husband, Harvey z"l, Ruth was a dedicated and generous supporter of the IMPJ and its Mechina program, as well as the Israel Religious Action Centre.



The beautiful group photo you see below is that of the first Australian Progressive Taglit Birthright tour participants taken a few days ago at the Lebanon border.

ARZA Australia as the local organiser with huge support from our Netzer Shaliach Sefi, and his partner Sara worked on this tour over the past two years. We were delighted the day their tour started in Israel on January 26 this year, and we are very much looking  forward to their return and hearing about their experiences.

Meanwhile there is so much else happening in Israel, much of it of concern to the entire Jewish community. This concern is now being expressed through huge mass rallies and protests in Israel and by leaders across the entire Diaspora.

For instance here in Australia, our Rabbis, such as Rabbi Fred Morgan in a powerful drash asked the question as to whether it is to be “Tribalism or Peoplehood  in Israel”? The President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Jeremy Leibler, is quoted in the AJN as saying recently: “To ensure the balance between the role of the elected Knesset members and an  independent judiciary is appropriately maintained, there are clearly extreme elements within the government who wish to completely strip the Supreme Court of its independence. This would have catastrophic consequences for Israel’s democratic system."

He also referenced Israel’s declaration of Independence establishing the Jewish democratic state and calling on Netanyahu to ensure that any reforms reflect Israel’s character as a Jewish State as laid out in that all important and fundamental document.

There has never been a more important time for the Australian Jewish community to lean in and engage openly, thoughtfully, and respectfully in relation to these issues”.

And finally, the Central Conference of American Rabbis also recently said in relation to the new government in Israel “In addition to the free exercise of voting rights, those principles include the right, and even the responsibility, to hold democratically elected leaders to account. In that spirit we join our Israeli colleagues….who have significant concerns about the government Coalition. (It) has been established by a Coalition agreement that violates central values of Judaism – above all, K’lal Yisrael, the unity of the diverse Jewish community both within Israel and worldwide; and ahavat ha-ger, loving the non-Israelite in our midst”.


Caucasus: Journey of a Lifetime
Rabbi Fred Morgan has partnered with Sundowners Overland to offer you this exclusive journey of a lifetime through the fabled lands of the Caucasus. Drawing on over 55 years of Asia Overland experience this comprehensive journey offers: Historic and culturally significant destinations. Maximum group size of 26 – excluding your Sundowners Overland Tour Leader and Shalom Tour Hosts: Rabbi Fred Morgan, his wife Sue. CLICK HERE to view the tour brochure.

(Re) Discover Israel at 75 with the Robucks
Rabbi Gary and Jocelyn Robuck, in conjunction with FBI Travel and DEKEL Tours, will be leading an exciting 10-day tour to Israel beginning on 29 October 29 2023. If you have been considering visiting Israel this year and to celebrate its 75th year of independence, this may be the trip for you! To receive more information about the tour’s many exciting features, send an email today to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



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