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Chag Pesach Sameach

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Chag Pesach Sameach
Happy Passover from ARZA and the UPJ!

4cups

At our seders, we will join with family and friends to retell the Passover story,
recounting the journey of the Children of Israel toward their spiritual homeland.

As we break the matzah
(and savour the resulting diverse shapes and sizes – and crumbs!),
we are reminded that there are many ways to be Jewish,
and celebrate how our Progressive community
embraces all “shapes and sizes”.

More significantly, we also remember that the world is broken today,
and in need of repair with our assistance.
We pray that our brothers and sisters in Ukraine
will soon be led to safety and return to freedom.

On behalf of the UPJ Executive Committee,
we wish you a joyous and fulfilling Passover.

May you and your family break matzah together
in unique and inspiring ways,
and may your cup overflow with goodness and happiness.

On behalf of the UPJ Executive Committee and ARZA board,

David D Knoll AM and Brian Samuel OAM
UPJ Co-Presidents

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA President
UPJ Vice President

2022-04-12T16:20:20+10:00April 11th, 2022|News|

Russian military damage Holocaust memorial near Kharkiv

The damaged Holocaust memorial in Drobytsky Yar ravine on the outskirts of Kharkiv

The damaged Holocaust memorial in Drobytsky Yar ravine on the outskirts of Kharkiv

WE PRAY FOR A MIRACLE AS WE SUPPORT THE PEOPLE OF UKRAINE

As we, the Jewish community prepare to celebrate our deliverance from Egypt and our freedom as a people, we can’t help but mourn the current suffering of some of our people along with their countrymen and women in Ukraine. We mourn for the unspeakable suffering they are having to endure at the hands of one who is determined to destroy.

The words of Mi Chamochah will be ringing in our ears as we remember the wonders worked to bring the Hebrews out of slavery, the sea splitting before Moses and Miriam. I can’t help but think we are hoping for a miracle to save the people of Ukraine and the many Jews seeking to save their families and having to flee their homeland.

We have, as a community through our Progressive Appeal, endeavoured to contribute as much as we can to the World Union for Progressive Judaism’s (WUPJ’s) Ukraine Crisis Fund which is helping bring escaping Jews and others to Israel and providing support to those who have fled to neighbouring countries around the borders of Ukraine.

We pray that those entering Israel are being welcomed with open arms. We hope that the process of making Aliyah is not made too difficult. We support the Legal Aid Centre for Olim (LACO) in its work to assist those having difficulty in being accepted as legitimate refugees and Olim.

I know, as we sit around the Seder table with family and friends, we will all feel an acute sense of gratitude that we can enjoy a freedom that we all cherish. I also know that we will continue to do what we can, however we can, to support the Jews and the people of Ukraine until their day of freedom comes.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2022-03-30T18:22:51+11:00March 29th, 2022|News|

Ukraine’s Only Woman Rabbi Among the Many Jews Fleeing War With Russia

Rabbi Julia Gris, left, who led a Progressive Jewish congregation in Odesa, Ukraine, hugs a member of her congregation. CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Rabbi Julia Gris, left, who led a Progressive Jewish congregation in Odesa, Ukraine, hugs a member of her congregation. CZAREK SOKOLOWSKI/ASSOCIATED PRESS

As I sit to write today, I try to steer my mind away from the Ukraine disaster and Russian war crimes to talk about the wonderful visit to Australia of Rabbi Sergio Bergman, the President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism. But I can’t.

Last night I came across the photo of Ukraine’s only female Progressive Rabbi who because she is Russian born was advised she should flee Ukraine. That meant leaving her community and those she wished to bring comfort to and help protect.

I met Rabbi Julia Gris and 4 of her Rabbinic colleagues, from the Former Soviet Union in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2015 at the World Union for Progressive Judaism Biennial conference. I was surprised that the Progressive community was so large in that part of the world. Rabbi Dukhovny has told us of the 40 plus Progressive congregations in Ukraine alone with some 200,000 congregants. Rabbi Dukhovny described the situation in Ukraine as like “David and Goliath. We will show that we are one. One nation of God”.

Back in 2015 at the conference with these 5 lovely Rabbis from the FSU, we had the most amazing and interactive time. I spent an evening out with them at a restaurant in Rio. They are the most friendly, personal, fun-loving people who are so genuine in their Judaism and a blessing to our movement. I have a wonderful memory of celebrating Havdalah on Copacabana Beach with so many of our fellow Progressive Jewish conference friends from all parts of the world, including those from the FSU.

It was reported in Israeli media that Rabbi Julia Gris and her 19-year-old daughter walked 30 kilometres lugging suitcases and her 2 cats to Poland. She has since lit Shabbat candles and performed services in Warsaw and through an online service to her scattered congregation in Moldova, Romania, and Israel. She said, “There were so many stories, so much crying and so much pain, for those who are here and even more so for those still in Ukraine”.

So, the fleeing of so many Jews lays bare the deceitfulness and the lying of the Russian regime claiming to be “De nazifying” while brutalizing a country with one of the largest Jewish populations and led by a brave and heroic Jewish President Zelensky.

I IMPLORE YOU TO DONATE TO THE UKRAINE CRISIS FUND THROUGH THE UIA PROGRESSIVE APPEAL HELPING THE WUPJ AND RABBI BERGMAN TO BRING ASSISTANCE AND SUPPORT TO THE PROGRESSIVE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF THE UKRAINE.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2022-03-30T18:16:54+11:00March 17th, 2022|News|
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