ARZA CANADA Newsletter
January 18, 2018
Upcoming Events



Save the Date 
 June 1-2 2018


at Biennial 

"ARZA CANADA Meet-and-Greet Reception for Canadians and Israelis"

ARZA Canada-Israel


Watch Video of Aleinu being sung



Biennial Shabbat Service


Miriam Pearlman with 
Rabbi Lea Muehlstein, 
Chair of ARZENU,
London, England

As I reflect on the success of our events of the last month both during ARZA CANADA WEEK and at the Boston URJ Biennial 2017, I can't help but "kvell". ARZA CANADA is now highly recognized in the Reform Zionist world in Canada, US, Israel and indeed within ARZENU (the world umbrella ARZA).
I believe the Boston URJ Biennial 2017 will be remembered as a watershed moment for ARZA CANADA. We can be more than pleased about how well ARZA CANADA in particular, as well as ARZA US, the IMPJ, and Israel were represented at the Biennial. Indeed in addition to a large number of sessions focussed on Israel or led by Israelis, Rabbi Rick Jacobs gave a brilliant spot-on d'var Torah on the state of our movement relative to Israel at the moving Shabbat service with 6000 Reform Jews. 
I personally was given a most memorable honour by Rabbi Jacobs in recognition of ARZA CANADA. I was honoured with the aliyah of "gelilah" (dressing the Torah) following "hagbah" (raising the Torah) by Reuven Marko, Chair of IMPJ. Wearing a Women of the Wall talit, I stood proudly on the bimah beside leaders of the Israel and North American Reform Movements.
It would be remiss not to mention two other highlights for Canadian Reform Zionist leaders at the Biennial - the WUPJ dinner celebrating leaders and philanthropists Austin and Nani Beutel who were recipients of the International Humanitarian Award, and the book launch of "The Fragile Dialogue, New Voices of Liberal Zionism" co-edited by Rabbi Lawrence Englander.
Our ARZA CANADA Meet-and-Greet Reception for Canadians and Israelis was described as a highlight of the biennial. I want to thank Rabbi Rick Jacobs for joining us along with Israeli leaders including Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Rueven Marco, Yaron Shavit, Anat Hoffman, Rabbi Noa Sattat, Yair Lootsteen, Anna Kislanski, David Bernstein, and all those from the IMPJ who made the journey to Boston, and to ARZENU's Chair Rabbi Lea Muehlstein who came from England to be with us. Our Canadian delegates had a joyous opportunity to meet each other and to meet many Israelis from our Movement.
These successes followed a wonderful ARZA CANADA Week when we welcomed Anna Kislanski, COO of IMPJ, and Yair Lootsteen, Deputy Chair IMPJ, to our congregations and communities in Calgary, London, Toronto, Thornhill and Ottawa. In a time when there is a growing gap between Israeli Jews and North American Jews, the strengthening of our relationship with our Israeli partners is more important than ever.
Our Reform Zionist cup runneth over.   You can do your part by raising awareness of ARZA CANADA in your congregation, helping to increase membership in ARZA CANADA and supporting the Israel Reform Movement by donating to the IMPJ. 
May 2018 be a year of peace and good things.

Miriam Pearlman
ARZA CANADA, President 

Israel and world Jewry - a growing divide

The growing gap between Israel and the Diaspora is becoming a threat to the Jewish world.
Israelis view their strong, dynamic country as the future of Judaism.  They see the Diaspora Jewish community as large and "comfortable", but assimilating quickly, so becoming less relevant. 
Our North American perspective is that we have strong Jewish communities and we appreciate progressive values important to a successful society.  Yet Israel seems to be slipping towards extremism: religious coercion at the expense of pluralism, intolerance instead of equality, and gradual annexation of the West Bank that could preclude a two-state solution.
At the recent Biennial of the Union of Reform Judaism, President Rabbi Rick Jacobs spoke on Israel-Diaspora relations, suggesting we may be approaching a "breaking point".  You can watch or read his dvar Torah here.

Liberal Jews  struggle with their desire to support and be a positive influence on Israel, while the Israeli government seems to be turning its back.  This article summarizes the discussion at the URJ Biennial.

Recent flare-ups, such as cancelling the agreement for pluralistic prayer at the Kotel, make it hard to maintain interest and support from young Diaspora Jews.    

Read More....       

Rabbi Eric Yoffe, former URJ President, believes that Bibi Netanyahu is personally exacerbating the division by disregard for Liberal Jews in North America.

The Fragile Dialogue - a new book by two leading Reform Zionists, Rabbis Lawrence Englander and Stanley David,  explores what it means to be a liberal Zionist.

Honouring Austin and Nani Beutel
A highlight of the URJ Biennial was the dinner of the World Union of Progressive Judaism, which featured honours for Austin and Nani Beutel, leaders of the Canadian Reform movement who have also made their mark in Israel, supporting among many projects the creation of new Reform communities and sponsoring a Reform leadership program.
Here's the pre-announcement describing the event.

Declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel
URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs created a minor controversy when he issued a statement, on behalf of the Reform movement, stating that US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital is the right action but at the wrong time.


Rabbi Gilad Kariv, CEO of Israel's Reform movement, wrote a clarification that fully supports recognition.  You can also watch his explanation at the URJ Biennial.  


Even some North American Reform Rabbis expressed unconditional support for recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.  Rabbi Ammiel Hirsh of the Stephen Wise Temple in New York expresses this view here.


Author David Grossman to Reform Jews: "Israel is worth fighting for ... we need you."

Internationally acclaimed Israeli author David Grossman, winner of the Man Booker prize, spoke at the URJ Biennial.  You can watch his speech here.

The Israeli Reform movement makes progress
The Reform movement in Israel continues to grow, despite official discrimination by the Israeli government against non-Orthodox Judaism.  Israelis are discovering there are different approaches to practicing Judaism, which we in North America take for granted. 
Recent progress is described in this posting from ARZA US, as well as this message from Rabbi Gilad Kariv, CEO of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism

Rabbi Josh Weinberg, head of ARZA US describes the dual challenge of Reform in Israel - institutionalized Orthodoxy, and raising awareness of liberal alternatives among ordinary Israelis.

ARZA Canada helps Canadian Reform youth study in Israel
ARZA Canada is pleased to announce three recipients of the ARZA Canada Rabbi Michael J. Stroh Scholarship for 2017. We congratulate them and wish them much success.
The recipients are:

Harley Jonatan
Holy Blossom Temple, 
Shnat 8 month Netzer program

Sam Greenwood, 
Temple Har Zion, 
NFTY High School in Israel - Heller High program

Disha (Daniela) Shapurkar,
Temple Har Zion, 
NFTY High School in Israel - Heller High program 
The ARZA Canada Stroh Scholarship was established to encourage young Reform Jews to spend an extended period of time in Israel under Reform auspices. A maximum of $1,000.00 per year per individual is awarded to worthy candidates who agree to work on behalf of Israel and Reform Zionism on their return, in their home congregation if possible. The scholarship was established in 1984 in honour of Rabbi Michael S. Stroh, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Har Zion in Thornhill, Ontario, the first president of KADIMA (the former name of ARZA Canada) and of the International Federation of Reform Zionists, ARZENU. 
See Education in Israel at

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