Weekly News & Drash: 24/25 September 2021


Weekly News & Drash: 24/25 September 2021

On the interim days of Succot, also known as Chol Hamoed, we greet each other
with the Hebrew phrase “Moadim l’simcha – May your times be happy" -
an appropriate message of hope during these days of distance and fear. 


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.

Clergy share High Holy Days sermons
Rabbis, cantors and lay leaders from around the UPJ region have shared their High Holy Days sermons; CLICK HERE to see links to view videos and print versions of sermons.

Mazel tov to new IMPJ Director General and IRAC Director
We are pleased to share the announcement received from the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) and the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) about the appointments of Anna Kislanski as the IMPJ Director General and Orly Erez-Likhovski as IRAC Director. IMPJ Chair Yair Lootsteen said: "With the support of our Movement's other exceptional professional staff members, Anna Kislanski and Orly Erez-Likhovski will lead our Movement to significant achievements which will positively impact the face of Israeli society." CLICK HERE to learn more about these two exceptional women and to read the full message from Yair.

Melton Trans-Tasman Hub announces new instructors
Melton welcomes two experienced educators onto the Trans-Tasman team: Rabbi Dr Danny Schiff and Rabbi Ronnie Figdor. Rabbi Dr Danny Schiff will be teaching Melton's six-week course "OMG, Can You Believe!?" on Mondays, starting 11 October, 7.00-8.30pm (AEDT) via Zoom (6 weeks). CLICK HERE to register and learn more.

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. 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!

Podcast shares stories of Jewish women
Rebecca Davis, former Features Editor at The Australian Jewish News, has launched "The Good Edit", a podcast that gives voice to the stories of Jewish women. Rebecca said: "
While working for several years as Features Editor at The AJN, I reported extensively on issues affecting women in our community and even co-led a special investigation into gender inequality in Jewish organisations. I had so many discussions with women – interviewees, peers, girlfriends over glasses of wine – and as I did, I grew more aware of the ways in which many of us felt – not fully seen, or really heard." CLICK HERE to listen to Episode 1 with guest Alice Zaslavsky on Apple Podcasts or CLICK HERE to listen on Spotify.



      David Knoll AM         Brian Samuel OAM


So, we enter a New Year 5782. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur passed without too much drama, and we now celebrate Succot for the next seven days followed by once again at Simchat Torah reaching the end of the Torah and starting the whole process once again. Lockdown has given us the opportunity to reach out for additional learning from our shules, which for the most part have kept us in touch with some of our friends by Zoom, if not in person. The current talk by our leaders is the word “Roadmap” which is a nice way of telling us that if we remain isolated at some point, then soon, we will be able to return to shule. When that occurs, we can assume that will be the benchmark for returning to normal.

Last week, I was sent a report from a colleague of the latest findings by the Pew Research Centre in the US on affiliation to various branches of Judaism. I have provided the basic summary below. However, if you are interested in reading the full article CLICK HERE. The full article discusses in detail the concept of “denominational switching”.

The American Jewish population, like other religious groups, is in constant flux. Some people who were raised as Jews have left the religion, while some who were raised outside the faith now identify with it. Many others have switched denominations within Judaism – a trend that has seen the Reform movement grow modestly and Conservative Judaism experience a net loss, according to the recent Pew Research Center survey.

Overall, nearly nine-in-10 US adults who were raised Jewish (88 per cent) are still Jewish today. This includes 70 per cent who identify with the Jewish religion and 18 per cent who don’t identify with any religion, but who consider themselves Jewish in some other way, such as culturally, ethnically or by family background.

                   Wishing everyone a Chag Sameach SukkotBrian 

Drash on Parashat Chol Hamoed Succot  

Dr Rabbi Orna Triguboff
Neshama Life and Emanuel Synagogue

In the kabbalah of 16th Century Tzfat, Isaac Luria taught that, Shhmini Atzeret is the culmination of the whole period of Teshuvah (repentence) – from the first of the Hebrew month of Elul to the end of Sukkot. During this period, we work on ourselves in order to improve and make a plan for a year ahead of goodness and success. On a cosmic level, Shemini Atzeret  was seen as the day of mystical union between an individual and the Divine, and also a union of different aspects of G-d – a union between the aspect of Shechinah and the Kadosh Baruch Hu. Described through a metaphor of a love that starts budding on the first of Elul and culminates in this mystical union on Shemini Atzeret. The key to their union is cultivating the aspect of panim el panim (face to face), both on a material and spiritual level.

This is an excerpt from Rabbi Triguboff's drash; CLICK HERE to read the full drash on the UPJ website.





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