Masorti Olami & MERCAZ Olami Update

December 2017/ Tevet 5778

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2017 Annual Tribute Event Tribute
On Sunday, December 10,  Masorti Olami celebrated its annual 2017 Tribute Event highlighting our honorees and their lifelong contributions to the movement. The evening was a huge success and we had excellent turnout, including international guests from Argentina, Canada, Chile, Israel, Mexico, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay who all came to honor and praise the work of our honorees, Rabbi Philip Scheim, Penny and Claudio Pincus & Lena and Rabbi Reuven Stamov.
The Tribute Event was held at the gorgeous Museum of Jewish Heritage right on the waterfront in Manhattan, and Hazzan Ari Priven led the crowd in a fitting start for the evening-a rousing rendition of "Shehechiyanu". We also heard a speech from JNF-KKL Chairman Danny Atar who spoke about the Masorti Movement's importance in Israel's national institutions and around the world.  
We thank everyone for your generous donations which allow us to build and support Kehillot around the world and for doing your part to make the Tribute evening a great success.

Pictured above (Left to Right): Rabbi Reuven Stamov, Lena Stamov, Rabbi Philip Scheim, Gillian Caplin, Rabbi Mauricio Balter, Penny Pincus and Claudio Pincus. 
To view more pictures from our Event, click here . Photo credits: Michael Priest Photography

For anyone who would still like to submit a journal ad, you can do so until January 31 by clicking on this link(A digital copy of the journal will be available for everyone in the coming months.)
Letter from the President LetterPresident
Dear Friends of Masorti Olami,

2017 has been an important year for Masorti Olami, and I'd like to take a moment with you to look back over the past year which has been both challenging and successful in equal measure.  In July, Rabbi Mauricio Balter joined Masorti Olami as our new Executive Director.  Mauricio's vision will steer the organization into the future aided by a strong and capable team in the Jerusalem office.  Also this year I have had the pleasure of attending conferences for both Masorti Europe and Masorti AmLat, as well as last week's superb Tribute Event in New York.

At Masorti Europe's "Facing the Future Together" conference in Madrid we not only had the wonderful opportunity of completing the first Sefer Torah written in Spain since the expulsion in 1492, but we also celebrated 25 years since the foundation of congregation Bet-El of Madrid.  The weekend was spent with members of Masorti communities from all across Europe, discussing the future, studying and learning about the challenges we face.

Following the Madrid conference, I had the opportunity to spend four days in Santiago de Chile with members of our Latin American Communities at the Hitjadshut - 'Renewal' Conference.   Working with a professional strategic consultant we examined our communities in Latin America and considered ways in which we can strengthen and renew them and create strategies for the future which will make us stronger and more relevant than ever.

While there are similarities between the issues we face all around the world, each region and community is unique and communities of different strengths, sizes and cultures require individual solutions; this is our challenge as Masorti Olami.

But while it is a challenge, it is also the core of our work that we do. We want to ensure that every community-wherever it is-has a strong Masorti ideology and vision combined with a depth of knowledge and commitment to Masorti Judaism. At the same time, we also require strength and understanding to help communities face real problems in the world today. This type of strength comes in numbers, and as a movement we are strongest when we stand together.

Let's make 2018 a year in which we explore new initiatives together,

Gillian Caplin
President,  Masorti Olami

Hitjadshut - Masorti AmLat Meeting in Chile Hitjadshut
Masorti AmLat held its "Hitjadshut" meeting in Santiago de Chile from November 23-26 as the beginning of a major restructuring effort in order to update and retool the organization to better equip it to serve its communities. The meeting focused on both strategy and ideology with Dr. Daniel Yoffe, a specialist in organizational non-profit management, leading nearly eighty Rabbis and lay leaders from across Latin America in a discussion about the shared vision, needs, challenges and networking possibilities within Masorti AmLat.

One of the chief outcomes of this meeting was the formation of a temporary work team which will spend six months focusing on specific goals. The work team is dedicated to hiring an executive director for Masorti AmLat, selecting a permanent board and also drafting the bylaws for the board of Masorti AmLat. The group is comprised of six participants: Mirko Lebl (Brazil), Moises Szewkis (Chile), Jorge Banchik (Argentina), Rabbi Sarina Vitas (LARA), Rabbi Marcelo Rittner (Mexico) and Magali Desse (NOAM AmLat).

For more information of Hitjadshut please click here.

To view more pictures from our meeting, click here. Photo credits: Mauricio Vega.
Shuk Beineinu - Successful Programs from Masorti AmLat Shuk 
The recent Hitjadshut meeting in Chile culminated with a session called "Shuk Beineinu" where each Kehillah had 10 minutes to present about one of their most successful programs. These programs included Bet-El 3.0 in Mexico, the Illustrated Torah Project and Kehillat Shalom's youth program in Brazil, AMJ+25, Yesh! and Tikunea in Argentina, WZO's " Mochileros" project in Mexico and Argentina, Kivun in Chile and Shnat Hajshara by Marom as well as the Leadership Program from the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano Marshall T. Meyer. 

For the full "Shuk Beineinu" brochure please click here.

Rosh Chodesh: From a Masorti Feminine Perspective RoshJodesh
Chodesh Tov!

To mark Rosh Chodesh Tevet we are announcing the online publication of Masorti AmLat's new book "Rosh Chodesh: From a Masorti Femenine Perspective", a compilation of reflections on each Hebrew month by female Rabbis from Latin America.

"The connection between Rosh Chodesh and women dates back to the times of the Bible" says Masorti Olami President Gillian Caplin. "Masorti Judaism is based on a strong faith-in the women who, in every situation remain steadfast to this faith and pass it on to their children-the future generations. Perhaps this explains the special connection to Rosh Chodesh-the celebration of perpetuity ensuring continuity and survival and renewal."

Thank you to all the Rabbis who contributed to this book, and a special thanks to Rabbi Graciela Grynberg and Ariel Blufstein who organized this project. The book is currently available in print or online in the original Spanish, and will be translated to English in the coming months. 

For a free online copy of the book, click here.  

In May 2016 I became President of MERCAZ USA, the largest affiliate of MERCAZ Olami.  Our new Executive Director, Sarrae Crane, began work in August 2016.  While our initial work involved setting up a technological infrastructure, we also began to reach out to our partners in the USA. It is through MERCAZ USA, the Zionist organization of the Conservative Movement in the U.S. that we let the Jewish world know that we are committed Zionists and claim our rightful places at the tables where priorities for the Jewish people are set. In order to strengthen our organization which in turn will strengthen MERCAZ Olami, we are committed to engaging Conservative/Masorti Jews in the U.S. by providing them with programs and information about our partners who benefit from our presence.  Since there is so much good educational material available, we see ourselves as the content curators.  We find materials that would be of interest to our constituency and disseminate them.  We are planning a program for millennials and have received a grant from Nefesh B'Nefesh for that program.  We are currently planning webinars geared to rabbis as well as webinars for our check-off congregations.  We are working with the WZO to disseminate the Beit Ha'Am materials and teach congregations how to use them.  Our newsletter has been redesigned and our website is in the process of redesign.  We look forward to increasing our presence in the field during the coming months.
Marilyn Wind

Can you think of a better way to spend Israel's independence day than by eating??
We would like to receive YOUR recipes of delicious Jewish foods that have been in your family for generations which will be included as part of an educational kit celebrating the 70th anniversary of Israel's independence. Please share your recipes with us at along with a photo of the dish and a short explanation of the tradition it represents. 
Meet the Congregation-Kehilat Nitzan, Melbourne, Australia Australia
Kehilat Nitzan in Melbourne, Australia, started with a newspaper ad. The minyan was founded in 1999 by a small group who placed an advertisement in the local Jewish newspaper seeking others interested in forming a chavurah that would be both traditional and egalitarian. In the beginning, the minyan met in the house of John Rosenberg. It quickly expanded and moved to various rental halls until 2013, when it relocated to its current building in the suburb of Caulfield.

In its early days, tfillot were all lay-led, with only occasional support by visiting rabbis. This history imbued Kehilat Nitzan with a strong core of lay leadership which continues to this day. The congregation's first full-time Rabbi was Rabbi Ehud Bandel, who arrived from Israel in 2005 and served a five-year term. Rabbi Bandel was succeeded by Rabbi Adam Stein, who served the congregation for the next five years. The congregation's next rabbi will be Rabbi Yonaton Sadoff.

Congregation Kehilat Nitzan currently has 240 member families, though they see much room to grow in the Australian Jewish community, where the Masorti movement in still in in its nascent stages and nearly unknown. Visiting guests are routinely impressed with the services and with the warmth of the community, and the congregation is optimistic about the opportunities for growth. The congregation has recently established a new program for children and is seeking to set up a branch of NOAM.

Member Catherine Cashmore says that belonging to a Masorti synagogue where she has the opportunity to lead tfillot and read from the Torah has strengthened her Jewish identity. "Kehilat Nitzan changed my life," she says. "It gave me a voice." 

Pictured above: Jim Landau, former President of Kehilat Nitzan.
Photo credit: Peter Haskin, Australian Jewish News
Marom Uganda Uganda
Marom Olami spent the last three years working to receive permission to finally bring a cohort of five students from the Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda to Israel for a 5 month program. The students learned at the Conservative Yeshiva, studied Hebrew in Ulpan and spent several months volunteering on Kibbutz Ketura. Marom Olami created a video series documenting their time in Israel.
Click the link below to see the video about their time studying in Jerusalem.

Meet the Schlicha in Sweden Sweden

My name is Ella Banyan , and I'm the new Masorti Shlicha to Stockholm, Sweden. I did not grow up in the Masorti movement, but rather in a typical traditional Sephardi home. I was educated in HaShomer HaTzair and first got involved in the Masorti movement during my early teenage years and remained involved throughout my army service and while pursuing my BA in arts and history at Ben Gurion University. After finishing my studies, I wanted new challenges and the opportunity to contribute something more to my country, so I applied to work as a Shlicha with the Jewish Agency for Israel. The Jewish Agency representatives felt that a Masorti community would be a good place for me, and I am very glad they made that choice. The Masorti movement has accepted and embraced me with open arms and a big heart.

The decision to place me in Sweden was also made by JAFI, and I am quite satisfied. In some ways it presents a lot of challenges. The main goal of my shlichut is to start NOAM and Marom branches in Stockholm, and we are already starting our first activities this Hanukkah. The teenagers are doing "a look at Hanukkah through the lens of humor" and Marom is doing a Havdalah and candle lighting activity. We are also planning Israeli cooking classes and I will start teaching Hebrew this January. I can't say there is ever really a typical day on shlichut. Some days I run around the city going to meetings while other days I stay in the office answering emails. Either way, shlichut is a hectic 24/7 job.

After I finish my shlichut I wish to come back to Israel and settle in the Negev where it is warm. I intend to keep working in education, perhaps working with Olim, and maybe continuing in the Masorti movement as well. I also want to study for MA in curating and museology. I have many plans and dreams for the future, but for the moment I just want to focus in doing my shlichut for as long as I can and the best I can.

Mazal Tov Darkei NOAM & Nofim Argentina! NOAMArgentina
Masorti Olami would like to wish a hearty Mazal Tov to the new Madrijim and Roshei Snifim of NOAM Argentina who recently finished their training courses. Sixty-five Madrijim graduated from the two year Darkei Noam course to become youth leaders in the Masorti Movement's youth movement, and thirty-five Roshim finished the year long Nofim course to become chapter leaders. The Madrijim and Roshim will work to spread the values of Zionism, egalitarianism, Tikun Olam, pluralism, and democracy in their chapters and beyond. 

Masorti Olami Lights Up the World. Chag Hanukkah Sameach! Hanukkah

Asociacion Judia de Beneficencia y Culto 1870 
in Lima, Peru

Maayane Or Community in Nice, France

Bet El Community in Mexico

Community Aviv in Valencia, Spain

Abayudaya Community in Uganda

Uniao Israelita in Porto Alegre, Brazil
Amijai Community in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Masoret Kiev Community in Ukraine

Meet Our Staff - Tehila Reuben Tehila

Tehila Reuben is the Director of Programming and Events at Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami. She has worked at Masorti Olami for six and a half years and has organized and coordinated missions and events including a mission to Budapest, Paris and London as well as the past four Annual Tribute Events in New York. Tehila is also very involved in the everyday running of the Jerusalem and New York offices. When she is not in the office, Tehila is an avid cook and has her own channel of her healthy gourmet creations. She is originally from Teaneck, New Jersey and made Aliyah thirteen years ago. She currently lives in Jerusalem next to one of her favorite hang-outs, the Mahane Yehuda Market. 

To contact Tehila please click here.

Movement Satement on Jerusalem Statement
Masorti Olami joins the Rabbinical Assembly and the entire Conservative/Masorti Movement in welcoming the United States' decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel and begin the process of relocating the embassy to Jerusalem. To read the full statement, click here.
Upcoming EventsEvents

NOAM Olami Int. Seminar
Nice, France

For more information click here

MERCAZ Olami Conference

Neve Ilan, Israel

For more information click here

Masorti Israel 40th Celebration

Onward NOAM Olami 2018

For more information  click here

Yom Haatzmaut 70th Celebration

For more information  click here