November 2002 Monthly Report
Kislev 5763, November 2002
By Judy Dvorak Gray
Marom European Seminar in Prague
Fifty Marom participants from Czech Republic, England, France, Spain, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Ukraine and Israel gathered in Prague on November 15-17 (10-12 Kislev) for a joyful Shabbat celebration and weekend of study, discussions and fun together.
Marom (an acronym for Mercaz Ruchani u'Masorti -- the center for spirituality and masoret) is the organization of Masorti young adults, ages 18 to 30 years of age. Marom is sponsored by Masorti Olami, MERCAZ Olami and the Hagshama Department of the World Zionist Organization. The goal of Marom is to strengthen Jewish identity and educate towards the principles of Masorti Judaism. The Masorti Movement works with the Marom membership to provide the next generation of leaders for the movement.
In August, six members of Marom Czech Republic participated in a Marom Leadership Seminar in Israel. The growth of Marom CR and the interest in hosting the seminar in Prague is a direct result of the skills and motivation resulting from the leadership training seminar.
The theme of the November seminar in Prague was “Chanukah and Jewish Identity”. Two scholars from Jerusalem, Rabbi Shlomo Fox and Dr. David Levine, led sessions on “Second Temple Judaism and the Chanukah Story”, “Zealotry and Assimilation”, and “Judaism, Hellensim and the Maccabees”. The students were stimulated and challenged by the ideas and teaching of the scholars.
Shabbat t’fillot were especially inspirational. Rabbi Fox’s special nigunim, stories and readings gave everyone a true spiritual uplift! A highlight of the Shabbat morning service was reading from the newly acquired torah, which was officially presented to the Masorti Jewish Community of the Czech Republic on Sunday. (see article below)
An important part of the seminar was the time devoted to learning about Marom groups throughout Europe. A representative from each country addressed the participants and spoke about the activities and challenges in their home community. Although there are significant differences in the cultures and resources of each community, the participants realized how much they also had in common as young, Masorti Jews. There was a strong feeling among the group that by working together they can strengthen and support one another.
We want to express our appreciation and gratitude for the efforts of Radka Uhrova and Sabina Stredova, members of Marom Czech Republic, for organizing the logistics of the seminar in Prague. We also want to thank the Marom Czech Republic members for all their help in hosting this important event and making it such a success.
Pictures of the seminar
Torah Dedication and Installation at the Masorti Community of Czech Republic
The mission of the new Masorti Jewish Community of Czech Republic is the support and development of Jewish identity through education, Jewish tradition and culture, while keeping all principles of the Masorti Movement. Rabbi Ron Hoffberg serves as spiritual leader of the new kehillah.
On Sunday, November 17, a ceremony marking the dedication of a sefer Torah and the installation of Rabbi Hoffberg took place at the Jewish Community Center in Prague. Mr. Ned Gladstein, a Vice President of Masorti Olami, brought the sefer Torah to Prague from New Jersey. The torah was given to the Masorti community by Congregation Agudath Israel of Caldwell, New Jersey, with gratitude to Larry and Marlene Ritter for providing funds to repair the torah. Marom seminar participants joined with members of the Masorti community in Prague to dedicate the torah at an emotional ceremony that signified the growing presence and strength of Masorti Judaism in Eastern Europe.
The installation of Rabbi Ron Hoffberg as Rabbi of Masorti Czech Republic took place following the dedication. Speakers included Rabbi Joe Wernik, Executive Vice-President of Masorti Olami, Mr. Ned Gladstein, Vice-president Masorti Olami, Mr. Tomas Jelinek, Chairman of the Jewish Community of Prague, Dr. Thomas Kraus, Secretary of the Federation of Jewish Communities Czech Republic, Mr. Vladimir Palkovic, Chairman of Executive Committee of Masorti CR, Mr. Peter Pechan, Executive Board Member Masorti CR, Dr. David Levine, Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Jacob Labendz, Chayl Masorti fieldworker in Prague in 2000-01 who began the process of establishing a Masorti presence in Prague.
We wish Rabbi Hoffberg and the Masorti Jewish Community in Czech Republic success and growth in the coming year.
Yom Masorti – United Kingdom
An exciting day of celebration and learning took place in London on Sunday, November 10 at the annual Yom Masorti. 450 people attended the event this year. The day included creative workshops, Torah study and family events. One of the highlights of the day was the launching of the Masorti Vision Statement called Darkenu. Another major high spot of the day was the launch of the Masorti Sefer Torah. This major fundraising effort, which will take place over the next 18 months, got off to an exciting start with the auctioning of five central passages of Torah. An enormous amount of work went into planning the event led by Judy Trotter and Judy Weiner who worked tirelessly with their team to make the day a success. Yasher Koach!
New Kehillah in France
A new Masorti kehillah has been formed in Nancy, France. Cercle Juif Masorti de Nancy (CJMN) meets for services every Friday evening. The group is composed of approximately ten families with young children. Rabbi Hyman and Rabbi Krygier, from Adath Shalom in Paris, and Rabbi Dalsace, from Maayane Or in Nice, have been helping the group get established and teaching the members. CJMN is interested in the Masorti approach with its message of modernity and tolerance and is eager to transmit the values of our movement to their children.
New Shlichim to Australia
Three Chayl Masorti shlichim (emissaries) from the Masorti Movement in Israel have been selected to represent our movement in Melbourne, Australia. Carmiel Frutkoff, Rebecca Sullum and Tamar Ettun will participate in “Project Masoret” at Bialik College, working in informal Jewish educational programs in the school. They will also contribute their skills and talents to Kehillat Nitzan, our Masorti kehillah in Melbourne. The three shlichim have just completed their service in the Israel Defense Forces and will depart for Melbourne at the end of January.
Twinning and Fund Raising Expanding for Argentina
Under the leaderships of Rabbis Leonardo Bitran and Eliseo Rozenwasser, a twinning project has raised tens of thousands of dollars for Masorti kehillot in Argentina. Among the growing number of North American congregations participating in this twinning effort are Rabbi Bitran's Shaaray Tzedek in Detroit, Rabbi Rozenwasser's Adath Shalom (Morris Plains, NJ), Rabbi Vernon Kurtz' Beth El (Highland Park, Ill), Rabbi Alan Silverstein's Congregation Agudath Israel (Caldwell, NJ), Rabbi Geoffrey Haber's Emanuel (Closter, NJ), and a consortium of Hartford (Conn.) congregations coordinated by Rabbi Judah Kogen. Rabbis Alfredo Borodowski and Felipe Goodman are also spearheading related efforts to assist in this crucial twinning effort.
Additionally, Masorti Olami Board Member Robin Lissak and his wife Lisa hosted a successful and delightful art show and fund raising evening at their home in South Orange, NJ dedicated to raising funds for Masorti Olami's Winter (December) NOAM Camp for 1500 campers in Argentina. Nearly $15,000 was raised. The art exhibition featured prominent Argentine artist Mirta Kupferminc (see her web site: http://www.mirtakupferminc.net/indexe.htm), who was in attendance at the Lissak residence.
Chag Chanukah Sameach!
Chanukah is observed for eight days, beginning on the evening of the 25th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev. This year Chanukah begins at sundown, Friday, November 29 and lasts for eight days through Friday night, December 6th, 2002.
There is a wonderful website by Jacob Richman with 118 links about Chanukah, ranging from laws and customs to games and recipes. Site languages include English, Hebrew, Russian, Spanish, French, Portuguese, German and Italian. The web address is: http://www.jr.co.il/hotsites/j-hdaych.htm Included in the list is the site of the Jewish Theological Seminary: http://learn.jtsa.edu/hanukkah/
Our best wishes for a Chanukah filled with light and joy. Chag Sameach!
"Increasing the Light", November 29-December 1
35 Marom students from the United Kingdom will travel to Israel for a spiritual and educational journey during Chanukah. Students will study at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and explore the caves of Beit Guvrin where the Maccabeans prepared and launched ambushes. Israeli Marom students will join the group for Shabbat.
Camp NOAM Argentina - December 20 - December 29
1500 campers from eleven kehillot in Argentina will participate in Camp NOAM Argentina in December. The camp will be divided into three five day sessions, each with 500 campers. The camp is especially important at this time when many parents can no longer afford to give their children a Jewish education due to the economic crisis.
The camp is made possible through the generosity of donations from Masorti Olami, Mercaz Olami, Tikun Olam/Social Action Committee of USY, Assembly of Masorti Synagogues (UK) and the Education Department of the Jewish Agency.
A Word from the Editor
We are always happy to hear news about events and activities taking place in our kehillot around the world. Please write to us about your activities and send us pictures that we can also post on our web site (www.masortiworld.org). Our address: firstname.lastname@example.org