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Our Sister Congregation, Rosh Pina

“The stone the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone (“Rosh Pina”).” Psalms 117:22

This verse from the Psalms, included in our festival Hallel prayers, contains the name of the community with whom we are connecting in our new Domim (“Alike”) partnership program through the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism: Rosh Pina (“Cornerstone”). The community of Rosh Pina in northern Israel by the Galilee was founded in 1882, and soon became a cornerstone of Jewish settlement. Though Jewish ties to Rosh Pina are ancient, the Reform synagogue of Rosh Pina is only eight years old.

Many American synagogues choose to partner with Israeli communities to deepen ties to Israel. We are choosing to partner with a fledgling Reform congregation somewhat off the beaten track, to lend them our support and experience the excitement of creating a new congregation – in fact , their community currently meets in an old winery (which must make Friday night kiddush most convenient!). As many of you know, Progressive or Reform Judaism in Israel is only now gaining some traction and receives a tiny fraction of the government support that Orthodox congregations do. We hope to enrich both our congregations through creating shared experiences and learning about each other. It is for this reason that we are looking forward to giving a warm welcome to Rosh Pina’s Rabbi, Tlalit Shavit, at the end of this month (January 31/February 1). A few of our temple members and our Educator, Barb Shimansky, have already visited the congregation in Israel, and our TBS Israel trip this summer will also include a stop in their beautiful city. Please learn more about this special congregation and our new partnership with Rosh Pina in this newsletter, which contains an article about their synagogue along with some beautiful photos. We are grateful to Richard and Susan Zinn for their support of this initiative.

As we work to strengthen Israel and her Reform congregations, January is also the month in which the World Zionist Congress elections commence. These elections present the only democratic opportunity for American Jews to make an impact in Israel by voting for ARZA (American Reform Zionist Association). The elections determine who will represent us at the World Zionist Congress in October of 2020, which is the Parliament of the Jewish people. Rabbi Loiben and I are both potential delegates to this auspicious gathering.

The WZC determines the leadership of Israel’s important national institutions and allocates financial and other resources to various organizations, including the Reform Movement and congregations like Rosh Pina. This is a critically important election to grow and broaden the Reform Movement’s impact in Israel, opening the door for many Israelis who are disenfranchised or disenchanted with Orthodox Judaism to find a meaningful spiritual alternative, as we have here.

The last WZC elections of 2015, ARZA gained 56 out of the 145 seats, making us the largest Zionist organization in the U.S. This win supported Reform congregations in Israel by the allocation of four million dollars a year for five years. Through this representation, we are also able to promote the values of equality, pluralism and democracy, and work toward influencing matters of conversion, divorce and marriage in Israel, where Reform Rabbis currently have no authority. We hope to far exceed 2015’s gains this year in order to grow our influence and strength in Israel.

That’s where you come in. You can exert your influence all the way from Miami Beach by voting in this election. The voting will take place from January 21 – March 11. Our goal is for every member of TBS who is 18 or older to vote. There is a nominal fee associated with voting to cover administrative costs. We will have a link on our TBS website for you to vote and there will be ample opportunities at Temple. Kudos to Rachel Kipnis Curtis and Yael Steinhart for championing this opportunity.

Temple Beth Sholom is committed to Israel and to promoting our Jewish values of human dignity in Israel. This month presents two opportunities: learn more from Rabbi Shavit about the experience of being a Reform Jew in Israel and share your voice and your strength by voting in the WZO elections. What a great way to begin 2020!

Sun, April 18 2021 6 Iyyar 5781