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Progressive Taglit Birthright Tour In Israel

Australian Progressive Taglit Birthright tour participants at the Lebanon border

Australian Progressive Taglit Birthright tour participants at the Lebanon border

The beautiful group photo you see 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 as saying recently,(AJN) “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”.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2023-02-02T16:29:39+11:00February 2nd, 2023|News|

A Cacophony Of Concerns About Israel

The Israel Religious Action Center and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism out in support of democracy

The Israel Religious Action Center and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism out in support of democracy

The cacophony of concerns being expressed both in Israel and the Diaspora about the policies of the new Israeli government is almost deafening.

In the space of a couple of days deep concerns have been expressed by the Chair of the World Zionist Organisations Yaakov Hagoel, the Chair of the Jewish Agency Doron Almog, the World Chair of Keren Hayesod Sam Grundwerg, the Chair of the Board of Trustees Keren Hayesod Steven Lowy, Chair of the Jewish Agency of Governors Mark Wilf, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America Eric Fingerhut, Chair of Jewish Federations North America Julie Platt, Vice President of the URJ and Executive Director of ARZA (US) Rabbi Josh Weinberg, MK Gilad Kariv and UPJ Co-president David Knoll.

The direction being taken by the new Israeli government under Benjamin Natanyahu is the basis for the deep concern being expressed which it is believed could “potentially undermine the status quo and threaten Israel’s ties with world Jewry”.

Specific concerns relate to:

  • The Israeli Justice Minister’s plans to reduce the power of the Israeli Supreme Court which has been described as “destroying the court’s independence”. Legal experts have described it as a dangerous plan and others like Ex Chief Justice Barak say it “will strangle democracy”.
  • Threatened changes to the Law of Return and conversions to Judaism which govern eligibility for citizenship, which many believe would destroy Jewish Peoplehood and the cornerstone of the national home for Jews who were persecuted and scattered among the nations of the world.
  • The threat to remove the law’s “grandchild clause”. This additional clause was only added in 1970, even though grandchildren had always had the right to citizenship. Despite the outrage to this proposition, Netanyahu has agreed to set up a committee to examine Israel’s policies in this area and specifically as it relates to grandchildren of Jews abroad.
  • The policies related to Jewish identity, Jewish heritage and education are apparently the responsibility of several controversial ministers in the new government, with authorities, directorates and two separate departments for education. One for Jewish education and the other for Education. This looks like a recipe for confusion and territorial disputation between rival ministers.

These are but a few of the concerns being raised loudly in Israel and across the Diaspora. It is my hope that we as a Progressive/Reform Movement can speak with one global voice to influence the way forward while in unison with David Knoll strongly supporting Eretz Yisrael as the home for the Jewish People.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2023-01-12T13:43:08+11:00January 12th, 2023|News|

Chag Chanukah Sameach!

Kislev 5783/ November/December 2022

Kislev 5783/ November/December 2022

Wishing you a joyous and meaningful Chanukah

The ARZA Australia Executive

Helen Shardey OAM, President
Steve Denenberg, Immediate Past President
Dr Sue Silberberg, Vice-President
Benjamin James, Vice-President
Tony Leverton, Honorary Treasurer
Cassie Barrett, Honorary Secretary
Rabbinic Advisor: Rabbi Fred Morgan
Committee Members: Avishai Conyer, Ayal Merek
Ex-Officio: Noa Abrahams, Rabbi Allison Conyer and Sefi Shalam

Assembly of Rabbis and Cantors Australia, New Zealand and Asia

Rabbi Allison Conyer, President
Rabbi Kim Ettlinger, Vice-President
Rabbi Martha Bergadine, Secretary
Rabbi Rafi Kaiserblueth, Treasurer

The UPJ Executive and Staff

David Knoll AM and Brian Samuel OAM, Co-Presidents
Roger Mendelson, Immediate Past President
Danny Hochberg, Vice-President
Helen Shardey OAM, Vice-President
Sally Castle, Honorary Treasurer
Professor Larry Lockshin, Honorary Secretary
Committee: Andrew Blencowe, Dorothy Graff OAM, Judi Hall, Associate Professor Joshua Keller, Amanda Mace, Dr Sue Silberberg

Rabbi Allison Conyer, ARC Representative
Noa Abrahams, Netzer Federal Mazkira
Sefi Shalam, Progressive Community and Netzer Shaliach
Sharene Hambur, WUPJ Representative

Jocelyn Robuck, Executive Manager

2022-12-15T12:47:13+11:00December 15th, 2022|News|
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