|Kehilat Meveseret Zion
Some 300 people attended Kehilat Meveseret Zion's
ground-breaking/candle lighting ceremony on the first night of Chanukah.
The ceremony took place at the site where the congregation is to build
its new synagogue. Among those present were the Progressive delegates to
the Centennial Zionist Congress. The delegates signed a pledge of
identification and support for the congregation on a scroll of
parchment, which was inserted into a clay vessel. The vessel was then
placed in the ground by WUPJ president Austin Beutel, UAHC president
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, IMPJ chairman Jonathan Livny, congregation
chairperson Channa Sorek, congregation spiritual leader Rabbi Maya
Leibovic, and Meveseret Zion deputy mayor Haviv Levy. The synagogue is
scheduled for completion in two years and will house a sanctuary,
classrooms and a kindergarten.
TIGHT BAR/BAT MITZVAH SCHEDULE
REQUIRES A LITTLE "PROTEKTIA"
||Bar/Bath-Mizvah demand at Beit
Daniel has become so great that three services had to be conducted
almost every Shabbat to accommodate the 140 bat/bar mitzva ceremonies
held in 1997. In 1991-92, its founding year, Tel Aviv's Congregation
Beit Daniel conducted 15 bar and bat mitzva ceremonies.
The scheduling of Adam Aloni's bar mitzvah required
some string-pulling, as well as the willingness of other bar/bat mitzva
families to reschedule their own ceremonies as a courtesy to Adam's
grandma Shulamit Aloni - the former Ra'Z and
MeRe'Z party leader, government minister and long-time fighter for
the rights of non-Orthodox streams in Israel.
ESTABLISHES COMPUTERIZED JUDAIC LIBRARY
As space at Haifa's Congregation Or Hadash becomes
scarce, the synagogue, with the generous support of David and Nilma
Igdaloff of Boca Raton, Florida, has established a computerized library.
The facility will offer all Jewish sources available on CD-ROM or via
the Internet. Many programs are currently planned, and many individuals
and organizations have expressed interest in taking advantage of what
the facility will have to offer.
Or Hadash also plans to add two pre-school
classrooms to the basement level, adjoining the building's air raid
shelter, thanks to a generous pledge from Daniel and Bente Lyons of West
Palm Beach. The congregation is presently awaiting a building permit
from the Haifa municipality. Among the driving forces behind this plan
is the interest in Progressive Judaism of many young families from
different Haifa neighborhoods.
SHORT TAKES ON ISSUES OF RELIGIOUS
PLURALISM IN ISRAEL
American Orthodox leaders traveled to Israel in
January to lobby on behalf of the Conversion Bill, which would outlaw
non-Orthodox conversions in the Jewish state. Ultra-Orthodox Shas party
mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef reportedly told the visitors that American
Reform Jews are seeking to "bribe" Israel by threatening to cut off
contributions if the Conversion Bill becomes law. A panel headed by
Finance Minister Ya'acov Ne'eman has come up with a conversion
compromise proposal, though it remains unclear just how many of its
seven members are fully behind it. The proposal now goes to Israel's
chief rabbis for their perusal. An upcoming issue of WUPJnews will be
devoted exclusively to the Ne'eman Committee and the conversion dispute.
Shas has reportedly offered to support social and
economic legislation sponsored by Israel's Arab parties if the country's
11 Arab MKs support, or at least refrain from opposing, the Conversion
Bill, should it come up for a final vote.
Newspapers, billboards and urban buses in Israel
were recently plastered with advertisements saying "One People, One
Conversion." The message was sponsored by "National Accord, the Movement
for the Unity of the Nation," which in one ad pointed to the country's
growing population of foreign workers who, the organization claimed,
were seeking to convert to Judaism in order to remain in the country.
Israel's Chief Rabbinate has reportedly accepted a
move that would ease the conversion of children who have been adopted
abroad. Until now, the rabbinical courts have usually refused to convert
adopted children unless the parents first agreed to adopt an Orthodox
life-style and send the children to Orthodox schools.
Israel's Supreme Court recently ordered the creation
of a special panel to find a solution for women's prayer at the Western
Wall. This followed a petition - submitted eight years previously - by
the Women of the Wall, whose members have been seeking the right to read
from the Torah at the site each Rosh Chodesh.
NEWS FROM THE FORMER USSR
INSTITUTE FOR MODERN JEWISH STUDIES
REOPENS ITS DOORS IN KIEV
Twelve students from Belarus and the Ukraine have
successfully completed their fall semester of study at the World Union's
Institute for Modern Jewish Studies. The Institute reopened in Kiev in
September after funding problems had led to its closure in 1996 while
based in Moscow. Upon completing their studies next year, the students
will become congregational leaders, Shabbat and holiday service leaders,
religious school directors and Jewish community workers.
MORE INTERNATIONAL NEWS
TAMAR MISSION STATEMENT
As coordinated during the recent international TAMAR gathering in Jerusalem
TaMaR is the acronym for T'nuat Magshimim
Reformim, or Movement for Reform Jewish Fulfillment.
Reform Jewish youth find their needs
exceptionally well served. Youth movements worldwide provide opportunities
to make Reform Judaism dynamic and exciting. Recognizing the importance of
Reform Judaism in our lives, we aim to provide continued Reform Jewish
experiences for Jews of post-youth movement age.
The Goals of TAMAR:
- Reform Judaism - To provide informal education and
encourage participation in Reform Judaism by creating opportunities to
share dynamic Reform Jewish expression and activities; by combating
anti-Semitism; by dealing with the pressures of assimilation; and by
dedicating ourselves to Tikkun Olam.
- Israel - To make Israel and Zionism relevant to our
lives by promoting communication and collaboration with Reform
communities and organizations in Israel, promoting interest in and
consideration of aliyah with continued participation in Reform Jewish
life, and furthering the use of Hebrew.
- Structure - To foster communication and activity
between its global branches through joint programs, resources and
international events. TAMAR shall also endeavor to form links with other
organizations and movements in both the Jewish and secular world.
Bulletin Central Europe
VIENNA CONGREGATION OFFERS TO HELP SLOVAKIANS
ESTABLISH PROGRESSIVE COMMUNITY
MUNICH'S HOMOLKA TO HEAD GERMAN GREENPEACE
MACHZOR WITH PLAUT
COMMENTARY TO BE PUBLISHED