News and Events

Antisemitism by Student Union

Melbourne University

Melbourne University

The Zionist voice of Progressive Judaism for Australia (ARZA) supports the UPJ, prominent Jewish leaders and organisations in condemning the Student Union of Melbourne University for outrageously supporting the anti-Israel BDS movement and demanding an academic boycott to cut ties with Israeli institutions, researchers, and academics.

This, in the very week we remember and celebrate the United Nations passing of the resolution of May 14, 1948, establishing the Jewish State in Eretz-Israel. This recognition by the United Nations of the right of the Jewish people to establish their State was irrevocable, providing for the natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign State.

Attempting to deny this right by supporting the BDS movement against Israel is itself anti-Semitic, racist, and hateful and denies the Jewish people the right to self-determination afforded to other peoples.

Those who know Melbourne University for the institution it is and the fine reputation it enjoys also regard this action as shameful. The Student Union should be held to account for the harm they have now caused.

Fortunately, Melbourne University has spoken out about this matter in a public statement whereby they said in summary:

This anti-Semitic motion… is not the position of the University of Melbourne, nor is it one that is endorsed or supported by the University. “The University of Melbourne is deeply committed to the values of inclusion and respect, and all members of our community must feel welcome and safe from discrimination or racism. Any form of anti-Semitism is antithetical to who we are and what we stand for. Tackling it and its damaging effects is a responsibility of all members of our community.”

ARZA congratulates Melbourne University for the forthright way it has called out anti-Semitism on campus and recognised the need for respect and for its community to feel welcome and safe.

Perhaps the university should investigate the level of funding received by the Student Union and given its shameful behaviour whether its funding should be re-evaluated.

Additionally, given the Australian Government has adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance Working Definition of anti-Semitism, it would make clear the attitude of Melbourne University and all other Australian universities if they too adopted this definition.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the Australian Zionist Youth Council and Netzer for bringing Australian Zionist youth groups together to respond and reject what they described as this “anti-Semitic and deeply hurtful motion to our community”.

It is wonderful to hear that the Federal Mazkira of Netzer Australia, Noa Abrahams, is working with AUJS at Melbourne University to identify actions on campus to further respond to this distressing matter. We are extremely proud of the leadership being shown by our Jewish youth.

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2022-05-20T15:45:07+10:00May 5th, 2022|News|

Rabbi Gilad Kariv to bring message of hope to Australian Progressive Community

Lapid and Stilman

Yair Lapid, center, and Yamina MK Idit Silman (Photo: Yoav Dudkevitch)

On Sunday May 8, at 7pm, Rabbi Gilad Kariv will be speaking live to the Australian Progressive Jewish community for the first time since his election to the Knesset as part of the Coalition to assume government in Israel in 2021. This zoom meeting has been arranged by the UPJ (Union for Progressive Judaism) and we are delighted to be able to welcome Rabbi Kariv. Of course, there are many issues we may wish to raise with him,so I thought I would suggest just a couple for those of you who have registered to join the zoom.

It was recently reported in Israeli media that the number of Israelis seeking conversion to the Progressive/Reform movement has risen substantially. The report claims that “a year after the landmark High Court ruling, the Reform movement in Israel has enjoyed a 63 percent increase in participants to its conversion programs”.

One wonders. Is this because people who are converted to Judaism in Israel under the High Court ruling can now seek Israeli citizenship? In fact has the Knesset passed legislation to support this ruling? Are there many Israelis who fall into this category who may wish to apply for citizenship? Or has the mere publicity from the High Court ruling convinced Israelis that Reform/Progressive Judaism is now accepted in Israel?

The next issue for Israeli politics has been the resignation of MK Idit Silman from the Coalition to return to Likud, thus threatening the future of the current government and the possibility of Yair Lipid becoming Prime Minister in 2023.

However, Yair Lipid has claimed that “If we work correctly, this government will be here next Passover and the one after. It won’t be simple, but it will happen. This is an excellent government, and we will do everything to make sure it continues”. Ynet 14/4/2022.

Finally, the attitude of the Coalition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Does the Israeli government need to be careful about expressing opposition to the invasion? Does the Israeli Prime Minister think he has a role to play in any negotiations? What is the public view by the Russian population now living in Israel?

We know the IMPJ and the WUPJ are working in partnership to support the Ukrainian refugees and Olim coming to Israel and those still in Europe fleeing their homeland to other European countries. We would like to have some idea of the number who have come to Israel from Europe during this time and how the UIA Progressive Appeal from Australia can assist financially?

Click to Register for May 8, 7pm with Rabbi Gilad Kariv

ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2022-04-26T18:56:58+10:00April 26th, 2022|Events|

The World Union for Progressive Judaism President, Rabbi Sergio Bergman visits Europe over Pesach to see the Ukraine refugee crisis firsthand

Student Rabbi Kovtun and Rabbi Bergman

During his Passover trip to Europe World Union President Rabbi Sergio Bergman (right) met with Student Rabbi Alex Kovtun (left).

My last message to you was about the Olim and refugees who have fled Ukraine to Israel. I talked about the amazing work being done by the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) in partnership with the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism (IMPJ), working together to bring immediate assistance on the ground in Israel to those who have arrived from Ukraine prior to Pesach. I asked for your continued support to ensure spiritual solace with Passover Seders could be brought to those who have had to flee their homeland.

Rabbi Bergman’s visit to Europe tells us firsthand about the response of the Progressive communities in Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic to the Ukraine refugee crisis.

Rabbi Bergman reported that he visited several Jewish welcome centres, particularly in Germany with Progressive Jewish leaders Sonja Guentner, chair of the European Union for Progressive Judaism and Irith Michelsohn, General Secretary of the Progressive Juden in Deutschland. At these centres refugees receive food, clothing, and social services, connecting them to the German state support system.

He also reported meeting student Rabbi Alex Kovtun who he says is doing incredible work travelling across Germany delivering food, translating, and offering help to thousands of Ukrainian refugees. Rabbi Kovtun apparently spends hours on railway platforms greeting refugees with water and helping translate what train workers are telling him and helping refugees to determine how to continue their journey.

Rabbi Bergman is quoted as saying “Student Rabbi Kovtun’s work is inspiring and a model for us all. The WUPJ is proud to support his incredible efforts and those of many Progressive Jews and communities across Germany”.

The WUPJ supports all refugees with a Jewish identity wherever they choose to live and have a good future. Countries like Germany are welcoming refugees and helping them settle, making sure there is the infrastructure available to help with education, language, and religious support.

Finally, the Progressive Movement is working with the Jewish Agency and the IMPJ to give refugees the option of making Aliyah to Israel.

It is believed that over 4 million Ukrainians have fled their homeland. With the Russian attack on Donbas under way, there will no doubt be many more fleeing the terror perpetrated on a people seeking to protect their freedom and democracy.

Your continued support for the UIA Progressive Appeal is needed now more than ever.


ARZA President, Helen Shardey

Helen Shardey OAM
ARZA Australia President
UPJ Vice President

2022-04-26T18:56:30+10:00April 21st, 2022|News|
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