Dear Friends,

I have recently completed a visit to Australia, where I had the opportunity and pleasure to meet members of the Progressive Jewish community. I had the privilege of sharing with them all of the wonderful developments and challenges going on in the Israel movement, and hear from them about the important work that they are doing in their local communities. My visit to Australia came just after we marked Diaspora-Israel Day, a new holiday held on the 7th of Cheshvan, celebrating the special bond between Jewish people around the world, so the timing of my visit could not have been better. We are so proud of the special events that our congregations held, together with their partner congregations.

And perhaps it is no coincidence that just a couple weeks later, this Shabbat we celebrated the Sigd holiday, together with the Ethiopian community in Israel. The Sigd is a holiday celebrated by Ethiopian Jewry- Beyta Yisrael, marking the renewal of the covenant between this community and God. The holiday is traditionally marked by a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a dream the Ethiopian community so aspired towards for centuries. A few IMPJ congregations have also embraced this holiday. Kehillat “Yuval” in Gedera, for instance, has made it a tradition to celebrate the holiday together with the local Ethiopian community every year since its establishment.

And what better way to end the month of Cheshvan, which places such a great emphasis on Jewish peoplehood, than the pride we have in ordaining four new Israeli Reform rabbis last Thursday. Leora Ezrachi-Vered, Yair (YaYa) Tobias, Rinat Tzfania-Schwartz and David Laor joined the list of Israeli Reform rabbis proudly ordained at the Hebrew Union College (HUC), and in doing so, will mark the ordination of the 100th Israeli Reform rabbi- what Nachat!

In honor of this Ordination, leaders from the global Reform Movement gathered together and marched to the Upper Plaza of the Kotel with Torah Scrolls. There we were met with unnecessary violence, further evidence that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s words of promise “One Wall One People”, repeated again, just two days earlier, to the delegates at the JFNA General Assembly, are meaningless without action. You can read more in our Public affairs Update below.

In just one month, we will be celebrating Hannukah, the holiday of light. There is no doubt that this preceding month of Cheshvan has provided us with many rays of light to fill our Hanukyah, manorah.

Wishing you a Hodesh Tov.

Rabbi Gilad Kariv