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Connections 2013 in Jerusalem

Connections

Every two years the World Union for Progressive Judaism celebrates a convention called Connections. This year, Connections took place in Jerusalem, Israel. Representing UJCL were Therie De Sedas, our young friend of B’nei Israel and myself as current president of the union.

Connections generated an environment of warmth by helping to build relationships and acquiring new knowledge of the world of reform and progressive Judaism. The convention facilitated the acquisition of shared experiences among Jewish people from different parts of the world.

The motto of “being the difference” in our societies, through Tikun Olam activities offered by Jewish institutions, made me realize the positive effect communities are making all over the world. I discovered great similarities among the communities with regard to performing the mitzvah of Tikkun Olam. Primary efforts for the care for the unprotected, focus on education, food, health and natural disaster relief, are some of the areas in which most communities are actively working on.

This year, the American Jewish World Service (AJWS), gave a special recognition to Ruth Messinger for humanitarian aid. This recognition touched me personally because AJWS has done some humanitarian projects in El Salvador and its delegates have visited the Jewish Community in El Salvador.

Another emotional encounter I experienced was when I met Anat Hoffman. Mrs. Hoffman an activist was arrested at the Kotel in October of last year, for wearing a tallit while praying. She now leads a group of activists who are making significant change not only on the topic of how to pray in a Jewish way at the Kotel, but also on the subject of civil marriages in Israel. Anat Hoffman is another example of a persons’ effort making a difference.

I learned on this trip something I want to share with my friends:

All human beings are different one from the other. However, inevitably we have to associate with others to approach life. Relationships are successful and positive as long as we have common goals and mutual respect. In this way we make a synergy that is worth more than the sum of its parts. In the end, relationships motivate and inspire us to have a successful and loving life.

In my view, the same concept applies to institutions. In our world of Jewry, the Orthodox, Reform and Conservative, must have mutual respect and clearly articulated common goals to unite all Jewish people as a nation. The actions of Mrs. Hoffman on how to pray at the Kotel clearly exemplify the lack of tolerance by some Jews. Within the Jewish world, the right of an open public space to pray is important to obtain because equality, mutual respect and understanding must prevail within the Jewish world. It may take many years, but I hope we will reach that unity among all Jews and succeed as a people performing the mitzvah of “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Vayikra, 19:18)

My dear friends, the experience at this conference was very productive and inspiring for this reason, I hope more representatives are sent to connect, learn, share and enjoy the next edition of Connections 2015 UJCL.

L’Shalom,

Ricardo Stanley


The XIII Convention of the Union of Latin American and Caribbean Jewish Congregations (UJCL) took place from January 25th. to the 29th. in Guadalajara.

This organization has dedicated itself from its creation in 1998 to strengthening and connecting the Jewish congregations of a region that extends from Colombia to Mexico, including all of Central America and the Caribbean.

One hundred and fifty people participated in the event, the most important of north Latin America, representing 16 different countries, besides 30 directors and outstanding professionals of the most important regional and world Jewish organizations, including 20 rabbis.

The convention program included full meeting sessions and workshops led by prominent world personalities. Outstanding among them:

    • Do Small Communities Have a Future? (Jorge Schulman – JDC)
    • What to Do Regarding Mixed Marriages? (Joel Oseran – WUPJ)
    • What is the Sense of Interreligious Dialogue? (Stephen Fuchs – WUPJ)
    • How Do We Reconnect with Our Roots? (Fabian Triskier –JDC)
    • Is There a Latin American Judaism? (Claudio Epelman –CJL)
    • Pluralism in Israel: Myth or Reality? (Tzvi Graetz – Masorti Olami)

One of the most outstanding moments was the master class by Rabbi Elliot Dorff, the Rector of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and one of the most distinguished rabbis of the global Conservative movement.

The encounter was an extraordinary opportunity for interacting among the professionals, members and religious leaders of countries covering the entire American continent and, at the same time it showed the richness of the beautiful city of Guadalajara and its cultural heritage.

Among the outstanding moments of the Convention we can point out the opening night, that took place at the Cabañas Cultural Institute – World Heritage of Mankind- as well as the unforgettable gala dinner at the City Hall with the presence of the Mayor (Presidente Municipal) Francisco Ayón López.

As is traditional in our bi-annual reunion, the outgoing President of the UJCL for the period 2010-12, Mr. Eduardo Moel of the Jewish Community of Guadalajara, transferred power to the incoming President elect, Mr. Ricardo Stanley of the Jewish Community of El Salvador, who will exercise his mandate for the period 2012-2014.

It is worth mentioning the high professional level of the Organizing Committee that accomplished a more advantageous use of the spaces, resources and time.

The XIV Convention of the Union of Jewish Congregations of Latin American and the Caribbean will take place on 2014 in Costa Rica, hosted by the B’nei Israel Congregation.

If you wish to get more information about the UJCL you can watch this video recorded live at the Convention (http://goo.gl/ojB7f) together with this presentation (http://goo.gl/xLkbA)

You can also listen to the recordings of all the full meeting sessions and some of the workshops: http://twitcam.livestream.com/user/kullock)

You can find additional information in the official blog of the event ujcl2012.blogspot.com or at the official UJCL site: www.ujcl.org

Foto Oficial del Evento

Official Picture of the Event