Pesach is fast approaching, and we want to share news of two exciting projects with you.
KOL DICHFIN - operated by Project Reconnect, an initiative of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism, Kol Dichfin helps individuals and groups find a Pesach Seder near them. For many reasons, people can find themselves away from home, or with nowhere to go to enjoy a Seder experience. The Kol Dichfin project helps match these people to communal or private Seders who will welcome them to a traditional and warm Seder experience. If you or someone you know is looking for a Seder in North America, South America, Europe or Israel, go to projectreconnect.org to find out more.
4 WAYS TO CONNECT YOUR SEDER TO ISRAEL
MERCAZ Olami and Masorti Olami will be publishing a useful and concise educational tool that will allow every Conservative/ Masorti family, synagogue and community to connect their Seder with current issues and events in Israel. This e-publication will be launched just over a week before Pesach - all you'll need to do is print it out and read it at your Seder. Check our website www.masortiworld.org for info.
New Shlichot to Melbourne
Two new Masorti Shlichot (emissaries) arrived in Melbourne earlier this month. 24 year old Tali Levenfeld (pictured right) and 23 year old Oshrit Mor-Yosef (pictured left) were both born and raised in Jerusalem and have a wealth of experience in working with young Jewish people both in Israel and abroad - Oshrit worked as a counselor for several years in summer camps in the USA, and Tali took part in a Berlin-New York-Jerusalem partnership program. Oshrit is a graduate of CEDPA, the Centre for Development and Population Activities, an international initiative to improve the lives of women and girls. Tali is a graduate of "Ein Prat" a gap year program for Israeli students. Tali and Oshrit are very excited to be in Australia and are looking forward to their work with Bialik College and Kehillat Nitzan.
In The Press
In two recent articles, leading Rabbis of the Masorti / Conservative movement have shed light on the achievements and successes on our movement.
In a JTA op-ed, Rabbi Alan Silverstein of Cong. Agudath Israel in Caldwell, NJ tells us that the future of the Conservative/Masorti movement is not gloomy, but actually very bright. "With hundreds of congregations and schools, and thousands of rabbis, cantors and educators, Conservative/Masorti Judaism's glass is more than half full." Read his article here.
In The Jewish Week, Rabbinical Assembly Executive Director, Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, talks about the value of a movement. "A movement, whether it be Zionism, civil rights, chasidism or Conservative Judaism, is about powerful ideas that unite and motivate people to come together with a compelling commitment to build towards a vision of the future." Read her full article here.
On the issue of Conversion and Religious Pluralism in Israel, and following 90 years since the establishment of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel, Rabbi Reuven Hammer writes for the Jerusalem Post. "In case there was any doubt about the intent to dominate world Jewry, Religious Services Minister, Ya'acov Margi, stated openly that he hoped to see legislation that would outlaw non-Orthodox movements in Israel, legislation that would "determine by law that there are no streams in Judaism, only one that has been passed down to us from generation to generation." Read his full article here.
June 2011: Masorti Olami & MERCAZ Olami events in Israel
Just a reminder that the dates for Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami events in June this year are : Va'ad HaPoel orientation
- Wednesday evening, June 22nd in Jerusalem
- Thursday, June 23rdto Sunday, June 26th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Jerusalem
Jewish Agency Assembly
- Sunday, June 26th to Tuesday, June 28th at the Inbal Hotel, Jerusalem
Masorti Olami projects are supported by The World Zionist Organization
ADAR II 5771
Purim 5771 - A Global round-up
Jews around the world celebrated Purim just over a week ago. We are very happy that so many Conservative/Masorti kehillot sent us information and pictures about their celebrations which we present here in our Global round-up. As you will see, in every country the Megillah was read in fun and exciting ways, and there seemed to be no limit to people's imaginations when it came to costumes. There really is no better way to feel part of a world-wide Masorti movement than to share in the spirit and joy of our Jewish festivals in the same way, and at the same time, as so many other Jews. And that's exactly what happened this Purim. Below you can find brief accounts from just some of these celebrations.
Rabbi Tzvi Graetz
Executive Director, Masorti Olami
Rabbi Marcelo Polakoff told us that more than 250 people attended the Purim celebrations at Centro Union Israelita in Cordoba, Argentina (pictured right). Celebrations included reading the Megillah, games and dressing-up for young people and a performance by a Jewish theatre group from Buenos Aires.
The MAROM Budapest group took the lead in organizing cross-community celebrations of Purim this year. Dori Szep reported that celebrations started with a Purim-style carnival at the Godor Cultural Center followed by a lecture on female roles in Jewish History given by Gabor Balzs, and later the Megillah was read by members of the Dor Chadash Masorti kehillah (pictured right). The text of the Megillah was once again projected on the wall in both Hebrew and Hungarian for everyone to follow. The celebrations ended with close to 800 people attending a concert of UK-based band Oi Va Voi.
Adath Shalom, Paris, France
Claude Machline reported that 400 people attended the Adath Shalom Megillah reading (pictured left) and wore costumes of all kinds. Rabbi Rivon Krygier led the celebrations with participation from the NOAM and MAROM groups and a Klezmer band. There was tremendous enthusiasm and excitement in the crowd, and the event was enjoyed by young and old.
Congregacion B'nei Israel, San Jose, Costa Rica
Rabbi Rami Pavolotzky reported that the kehillah celebrated Purim with two events; the first took place in the synagogue on the eve of Purim (pictured right) where the Arvit service was followed by Havdallah and a youth-led reading of the Megillah. Afterwards, members enjoyed a Purim seudah and a contest for the best-baked Oznei Haman. On the day of Purim, members met at the home of the Gelman family for a costume party, with a childrens play and rikudim (dancing).
CIP, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Director of the Purim Celebrations at CIP, Deborah Azulay, told us that their event was a huge success with more than 800 people attending their Megillah reading, Costume Contest and Purim Carnival. People of all ages attended, and enjoyed the traditional exchanging of gifts and oznei haman. The celebrations ended with a drama and drumming performance from a local Samba school (pictured right).
Bet El, Madrid, Spain
Community Director, Mario Stofenmacher, told us almost 150 people attended Bet El's day-long Purim celebrations (pictured left). Young children got into the spirit of Purim by dressing-up in costumes, and then took part in all kinds of activities, including learning about the festival and preparing noise-makers. Later on they were joined by adults for a communal reading of the Megillah.
Kehillat Nitzan, Melbourne, Australia
President of the kehillah, Zvi Civins, told us that their Purim celebrations were a great success with a great turn-out of both adults and children. Participants really got into the spirit of the festival and wore wild and wacky costumes for the Megillah reading and Purim party on the day of Purim (pictured right).
Masorti Bournemouth, UK
Burl Solomons told us that Masorti Bournemouth celebrated Purim on the morning of Sunday, March 20th with more than 40 people attending the Megillah reading and party. The Megillah was read by Tom Kraus and was followed by a blessing of new baby born to a community member. The party included lunch, traditional hamantaschen and a singing and dancing activity.
Beit Israel, Lisbon, Portugal
Members of the kehillah, Adi & San, told us that everyone came together on the morning of Purim to read the Megillah together and share a seudah meal (pictured left) of traditional holiday treats. Afterwards participants watched a movie of the Purim story.
Masorti Almere-Weesp, Netherlands
Bernhard Cohen shared news of the kehillah's Purim party which was attended by 50 people. In addition to a parade of the different costumes, members of the kehillah played games and enjoyed a seudah of traditional food and drink.
Kibbutz Hannaton, Israel
Members of the kibbutz and their guests (pictured left) came together on the eve of Purim for a huge community party which included the reading of the Megillah and dressing up in all kinds of costumes.
Kfar Vradim, Israel
Galit Haim, Youth Director of HaMinyan Hamishpachti in the Galilee town of Kfar Vradim explained that their Purim celebrations began more than 10 days before the festival with children of all ages collecting candy and packing Mishloach Manot that were then given out to patients and staff at the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya (pictured right). Kfar Vradim is currently hosting participants of the NOAM UK Drachim (gap-year) program who acted out the story of the Megillah as it was read by Rabbi Zvi Berger for the entire community on the eve of Purim.
Comunidad Israelita, Concepcion, Chile
Rabbi Angel Kreiman told us that 50 people attended the kehillah's Purim celebration which included a dramatization of the Megillah (pictured left), a carnival, Purimspiel and eating many Oznei Haman.
After many months of planning, the first Masorti activity in Poznan, Poland took place on Purim. Organizers Szymon and Jose told us that 13 people attended a Shacharit service and Megillah reading (pictured right) which was led by Rabbi Leonora Wax. Following the service, Rabbi Wax led a learning session connected with Purim. It was a great start for this new minyan who are planning to meet again for a Pesach seder.
Comunidad Hebrea, Guadalajara, Mexico
Rabbi Joshua Kolluck told us the kehillah's Purim celebrations which started on the Sunday before Purim with a communal activity to prepare Mishloact Manot boxes. The celebrations continued on the eve of Purim with the Ma'ariv service and reading of the Megillah. On the morning of Purim, the kehillah took part in Shacharit and a second reading. All these events were well attended, and congregants made a huge effort with their costumes (pictured above left). Children from the Talmud Torah (Sunday School) prepared animated videos of the Purim story. Watch them here and here.
Temple Emanuel, Newton, PA
President, Amy Klein, told us about the syngogue's Wizard of Oz themed Purim celebrations which took place on the eve of Purim. The Megillah was read by the Tin Man, the Good Witch and the Wizard (pictured left), and the community enjoyed a costume parade and songs afterwards. A fun-filled Purim carnival was held on the day of Purim.
NCI, Montevideo, Uruguay
Ria Okret reported that Purim was celebrated at NCI on Saturday evening with a Megillah reading in Spanish. Afterwards, participants enjoyed a show of Afro-Uruguayan drumming and a seudah (meal). Pictured right is Rabbi Ariel Kleiner and his wife.
Congregation B'nai Jacob, Woodbridge, CT
Rabbi Joel Levenson shared with us a Youtube video from the congregations Purim celebrations. As you can see from the video, their Purim musical play had a Beatles theme, and their Purim carnival had a huge inflatable slide !
Bnei Israel, Santiago, Chile
Sonia Dyvinetz reported that the kehillah started the Purim celebrations with the Arvit service and Megillah reading. This was followed by a very impressive Purim play and costume parade with prizes. Participants had made great efforts with their costumes (some of them are pictured left), and the celebrations ended with a buffet of Oznei Haman and all kinds of other treats.
Congregation Neveh Shalom, Portland, OR
On the eve of Purim, congregants attended Havdallah followed by a reading of the Megillah at the synagogue. Carol Isaak told us that celebrations included dinner, dancing and prizes for the best costumes. A Purim carnival for children was also held on the day of Purim. Pictured is baby Noam, the youngest person to attend the Purim celebrations.
Comunidade Israelita do Parana, Curitiba, Brazil
Rabbi Pablo Berman reported that more than 250 people attended the Purim party (pictured left) on Saturday evening. The celebration started with the Arvit service and was followed by a Megillah reading and a costume parade. The evening concluded with a dicso party for youth and adults.
East Brunswick Jewish Center, East Brunswick, NJ
Rabbi Aaron Benson told us that the congregation had its annual Megillahfest with the World's Biggest 'Grogger' (noise-maker). The Megillah reading was led by the Blues Brothers (pictured right) , and the fun continued with exchanging Mishloach Manot and a Purim Carnival that included a fortune teller, a wedding booth and plenty of games.
Maayane Or, Nice, France
Elisabeth Sabbah sent us pictures from the kehillah's Purim celebration which show the great number of children who dressed up and took part in the Purim play. Some of the children are pictured left.
70 adults and 70 children celebrated Purim with the reading of the Megillah at the Oranienburger Strasse Synagogue in Berlin (pictured below left). After eating the delicious Hamantaschen, the children enjoyed a Purim theater play. Children of the Masorti kindergarten made decorations for their own Purim party which was attended by their families and friends. The children dressed up and put on a Purim play in German and English.
Comunidad Bet El in Mexico City, Mexico
Cantor Ari Litvak shared pictures with us of the Purim celebrations at Comunidad Bet El in Mexico. The kehillah had a very well attended and fun Megillah reading in the Synagogue sanctuary(pictured right), followed by a fabulous Purim play in the hall.
Judaica Marseille, France
Sonia Binisti told us about the kehillah's Purim celebrations which took place on the day of Purim. The event started with Shacharit and putting on tefillin, and continued with the reading of the Megillah (pictured left). Many children had dressed up in costumes and made plenty of noise when they heard Haman's name. Later the Kol Achalom choir performed traditional songs in Yiddish, Hebrew and Ladino, and the celebrations concluded with exchanging Mishloach Manot and collecting money for tzedakah (charity).
Congregation B'nei Israel, Rumson, New Jersey
In the Ashbury Park Press, journalist Michelle Gladden reported on the Purim Carnival at Congregation B'nei Israel which included a variety of fun games and activities as well as Purim treats and snacks. The Carnival also raised money for charity. Read the full article here.
Kehillot / Synagogues in North America and under the auspices of The United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…