Masorti Olami & MERCAZ Olami Update

January 2018 / Shvat 5778

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A Dickens of a Hanukkah CelebrationDickens
For many years, the Dickens Festival has taken place each year in the old Hanseatic city of Deventer, Netherlands. During this festival, Charles Dickens' 19th century is revived in the picturesque old 'Bergkwartier' (a city-quarter), with more than 950 characters from the famous books of Dickens. Read more about the festival at .
Tom A. Fürstenberg , Chazzan and Chair of Beth Shoshanna says "Each year, the festival is attended by 125,000 people from the Netherlands and abroad. Our 19th century shul is in the center of this quarter, and amidst all the Christmas atmosphere, Kehillat Beth Shoshanna ( participates on Sunday with Hanukkah festivities. All our members dress up in Victorian costumes. We welcome the visitors in our shul and give them guided tours with explanations about the shul and Judaism. While all the other Dickens-characters wish the visitors a "Merry Christmas", we wish them "Merry Hanukkah". Visitors are nicely surprised about this unique addition to the festival. Most of them know little about Judaism, and they ask many questions. At the end of the day, we have a public Hanukkah celebration, with an important guest (we have previously hosted the mayor, a pastor, a reverend, an imam and a Consul-General) who gives a speech and lights the shammash. We then light the Hanukkiah, sing Hanukkah songs and eat sufganiot with the people that attend our celebration."

Check out our 'doodle' explaining what NOAM Olami, the global network for Masorti youth, is and what we do! 

Click on the link below to watch the NOAM Olami whiteboard doodle:

Traveling? Find a Masorti Synagogue Wherever You Are!Travelling
As a worldwide movement, we are proud to have Masorti synagogues all over the world. Wherever your travels may take you, you will find a warm, welcoming Masorti/Conservative congregation.
To find Masorti synagogues around the world, 
click here.
For congregations in Israel, 
click here. And to locate Conservative/Masorti shuls in the United States and Canada, click here.

Man and NatureDvarTorah
Tu B'Shvat is the New Year for trees. Over time, this holiday has undergone many developments. For example, Chassidei Ashkenaz (13 century German Pietists) added the custom of eating fruit during this holiday and in the 17th century, Chachmei Tzfat (Scholars of Safed) made it a tradition to conduct a Tu B'Shvat Seder to instill this holiday with love of country and for Jews in the diaspora to hasten the redemption.
With Zionism and the return to "Eretz Yisrael" and with renewed contact with the land, a different dimension was added in 1884- the people of Yesod HaMaaleh went out of their settlement and planted trees on Tu B'Shvat, planting 1,500 fruit trees, including etrog and pomegranate trees. At the beginning of the 21st century, with our awareness of the environment, it is now customary to commemorate Tu B'Shvat as an ecological holiday and to engage in study and in relevant ecological activities.

Awareness of as well as connection to nature can already be found in the first chapters of the Torah. From a deeper reading of the text we are surprised to discover two different versions of humanity's role regarding the world; in Genesis 1:28 we read: "And God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that creeps upon the earth.'" This verse teaches that humans have ownership of nature; words like "subdue" and "have dominion" give the impression that people can do as they please with the world! Then we continue reading and find in Genesis 2:15: "And God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it (work it) and protect it (preserve it)."
Here we find a big change; the words, "to cultivate it and protect it" teach us of the responsibility placed upon humankind concerning the world and nature. We cannot be indifferent to what is happening around us; we must work to continue the creation of the world as well as preserve the world.
Midrash Song of Songs is very poignant in this regard: "Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai said: Three things are equivalent to one another; these are: Land, Man and Rain. Rabbi Levi said: these three things are each written with three letters [in Hebrew] to teach us that without land there is no rain, and without rain there is no land, and without both of these there is no man"(Genesis Rabbah 13:3).
We must make the effort necessary to secure a complete world for our grandchildren.
Happy Tu B'Shvat!
Rabbi Mauricio Balter 
Executive Director, Masorti Olami & MERCAZ Olami

NOAM Sao Paulo Celebrates Ten YearsNOAMSP
Mazal Tov to NOAM Sao Paulo on a hugely successful reunion with over 300 people arriving at their summer camp in Brazil to celebrate the first ten years of NOAM. It was a meeting of all the generations of the Kehillah/Tnua, with former Madrijim and bogrim returning to celebrate. There were activities for current campers and for the parents, as well as a concert from the movement's band with players from all the generations participating. 

Uniao Israelita Portoalegrense Goes to the Beach POA
For the past six years, Brazilian Kehillah Uniao Israelita Portoalegrense has moved the synagogue to the beach each summer to hold activities and Shabbat services there. Among the activities held each year are Shabbat, Havdalah, sand castle tournaments with Jewish shapes, Israeli dancing on the beach, hikes and discussions on Jewish themes. Since last year there has also been a new activity called "Challah Beach Kids" where the children learn how to bake challot for Shabbat.

NOAM Ukraine Seminar MadrichimNOAMUkraine
NOAM Ukraine planned for the upcoming year at its Seminar Madrichim. This four-day event was held from December 14-18th at the Masoret Kiev community where sixteen NOAM Madrichim from across Ukraine got together to train in leadership skills, learn about Masorti Judaism, celebrate Hanukkah and plan for Winter Camp. Geared towards uniting NOAM Ukraine as a unified movement, Seminar Madrichim focused on the guiding principles of NOAM, writing and planning goal-oriented activities and planning for the upcoming NOAM Winter Camp. They also had age-specific workshops on teenage psychology and communicating with children.
To read more about the activities in Ukraine click here:

MERCAZ-Canada UpdateMERCAZCanada

It is impossible to discuss Canada and the Jewish community without some reference to Canada's geography.
There are 36 million people living in Canada and 90% live within 100 miles of the American Border. There are 370,000 Jews living in Canada of which 200,000 live in Toronto, Canada's largest city and 90,000 live in Montreal.
The other thing to bear in mind is that in Canada the three religious Jewish streams (Orthodox, Conservative and Reform) sit at the same table as part of the Canadian Zionist Federation where for the most part, we can agree on issues concerning Israel. From what I see, Canada may be unique in this regard.

The Board of MERCAZ-Canada (The Zionist wing of Conservative Jews) is composed of members from across the country.
In the past year, Rabbi Jennifer Gorman, our Part-time Executive Director, has been lecturing across the country about the politically religious status of the Kotel (Western Wall), a topic on which she has become an expert.
In addition, we have been experiencing some success by opening discussion groups within some of our synagogues utilizing the Beit Ha'am booklets prepared by the World Zionist Organization.
Our goal is to penetrate deeper and deeper into the Canadian Conservative Jewish Community so that the knowledge and affiliation of its members are stronger and stronger.
David Sefton
President MERCAZ-Canada 

MERCAZ Olami ConferenceMERCAZOlami

MERCAZ Olami is the voice of Conservative/Masorti Judaism in Israel's national institutions and is key to the success of the movement in Israel and around the world. As the Zionist arm of the Conservative/Masorti movement, MERCAZ is active in the World Zionist Organization, JNF-KKL,the Jewish Agency and in strengthening the movement's ties to Israel. Votes for MERCAZ translate into representation, funding and prestige for the Conservative/Masorti movement, but despite its importance, the role of MERCAZ is not understood by the average congregant. MERCAZ is kicking off a worldwide education campaign in our communities to raise its profile ahead of the 2020 elections in a push to bring out the vote. 

MERCAZ is kicking off this campaign this January with a conference in Israel where MERCAZ representatives from around the world will learn together, immerse themselves in the issues relevant to the Conservative/Masorti Movement today, and celebrate the 40thanniversary of the Masorti Movement in Israel.

 This conference will include a day of learning with Masorti Israel, Shacharit with the European Rabbinical Assembly at the Egalitarian worship plaza at the Kotel and attending the Gala dinner for Masorti Israel's 40th anniversary.
This conference will also include young adults from NOAM and Marom who have committed to holding MERCAZ activities in their home communities in order to deepen the affiliation with the Movement among millennials. Through this conference, the launch of its movement-wide app and multiple educational initiatives, MERCAZ seeks to become a household name in Conservative/Masorti communities and to translate this influence into votes in the 2020 elections.  
Meet a Member of Masorti Olami's BoardOscar 

My name is Oscar Gorodzinsky Freiman and I was born in Mexico City in 1955 to immigrants from Poland. I attended the Colegio Israeli de Mexico through high school and studied business and business management at Universidad Anahuac.
After high school, I travelled to Israel in 1973 on a program called Shnat Hajshara, where I worked on a kibbutz for ten months and learned about Zionism and leadership. During this year I lived through the Yom Kippur War and these two experiences were key in defining my Jewish identity and my work in the community.

I began volunteering on the youth committee of the Centro Deportivo Israelita and then joined the administrative committee of the Bet-El Community where I have served as the treasurer, President of the Executive Committee and later on the board of directors of the community.   

After my term as President of Bet-El, I went on to the Central Committee of the Jewish Community of Mexico which represents the community at both the national and international levels. I served as a delegate for political relations and was later named President of the Central Committee.
These days I am back at Bet-El on the strategic planning committee searching for short, medium and long-term sustainability not only for Bet- El but also working with other communities in the Masorti Movement. It is important for Masorti communities to collaborate not only at the regional level, but also at the sub-regional level and to encourage local communities to work together.
It is a privilege to be a part of the Masorti movement, because it is a form of Judaism that aligns with Halacha, with Israel and with our times and circumstances.
We have a great responsibility to transmit this to our youth so that they will continue as part of this chain of Judaism for years to come. 
Meet Our Staff - Ariela Rosemberg Garbatzky Staff

Ariela Rosemberg-Garbatzky heads the AmLat desk at Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami and is responsible for the communities across Latin America and developing Masorti in the Spanish-speaking world. She works closely with Kehillot across the region and organized the current "Hitjadshut" restructuring of Masorti AmLat. Ariela grew up in a Masorti community in Bahia Blanca, Argentina and made Aliyah at age 19. She sees the Masorti lifestyle as the most coherent approach to Jewish life in our day and sees great importance to connecting Masorti communities in Latin America with Israel. In addition to her work with AmLat, Ariela also uses her artistic talents as the graphic designer at Masorti Olami and MERCAZ Olami.
Ariela received her degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Hadassah College. Since making Aliyah, Ariela has lived in the city that she loves the most-Jerusalem. She currently lives in the Arnona neighborhood with her husband, Ariel (also an Oleh from Argentina) and their four children, Tomer, Jen, Tali and Shir. In her free time Ariela enjoys photography and drawing. 

Upcoming EventsEvents

NOAM Olami Int. Seminar
January 18-21, 2018
Nice, France

For more information click here

MERCAZ Olami Conference
January 28 - February 1, 2018
Neve Ilan, Israel

For more information click here

Masorti Israel 40th Celebration
January 31, 2018

Masorti Olami Board Retreat
October 26-27, 2018

For more information  click here 

Yom Haatzmaut 70th Celebration
April 20, 2018

For more information  click here 

Onward NOAM Olami 2018
Summer 2018

For more information  click here