Masorti Olami

Masorti Olami News

 April 2009 - Nisan 5769
In This Issue
Blessing of the Sun
New Education CD-DVD
New Director of Masorti AMLAT
New Vice-Chancellor at the Seminario
Kehilat Nitzan Melbourne Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Camp Elyse Argentina
News from Assembly of Masorti Synagogues UK
New Shlichim to Melbourne
Beit Yisrael, Lisbon
Pesach in St. Petersburg
Pesach St. Petersburg
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New website on its way!
New website
Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for the announcement of the official launching of our new website. Our new site will contain up to date information, activities and programs for Masorti Olami, MERCAZ Olami, Marom Olami and NOAM Olami, with links to Conservative/ Masorti organizations around the world. 
Blessing of the Sun
This year we have a rare opportunity to say Birkat Ha'chama, a special blessing on the sun. The blessing, recited only once in twenty eight years, will be said on Wednesday morning, Erev Pesach, April 8, 2009. 
Every twenty-eight years the sun returns to the exact position that it was in when the sun was created.
The blessing should be said when one sees the sun after it rises, or in the first three hours of the morning. The blessing is as follows: 
 בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יְיָ, אֱלֹהֵינוּ מֶלֶךְ
הָעוֹלָם, עֹשֵׂה מַעֲשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית.
 Baruch Atah Addo-noy Ello-haynu Melech Ha-Olom osay ma-asseh verashit"

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who made this work of creation.
Dear Chaverim
A popular Passover song for children goes, "Simcha Rabba, Aviv Higiya, Pesach Ba" (There's great happiness, spring has come, Pesach is here). The brilliant colors of the wildflowers, the extra hours of daylight, the long lines in the supermarkets,  the display of Haggadot in bookstores and the smells of Pesach cooking leave no doubt that spring has arrived. Members of our Masorti / Conservative communities around the world will unite with Am Yisrael on Wednesday evening, the 15th of Nissan, to participate in the special customs and traditions of the holiday.
We have been busy finding places for students and travelers in search of a Pesach Seder in our Masorti kehillot. We thank our kehillot for their gracious hospitality in welcoming visitors. It is gratifying to receive feedback after visits and hear how "at home" one feels with our Masorti mishpacha anywhere in the world.
Wishing you a Chag Pesach Sameach v'kasher from all of us at Masorti Olami - World Council of Conservative Synagogues and MERCAZ Olami. 
New Educational CD - DVD
Masorti Olami - World Council of Conservative/Masorti Synagogues and MERCAZ Olami (the Zionist organization of our movement) has prepared a special two disc educational kit which is being sent to Masorti / Conservative kehillot around the world.
The first disc is a DVD with a short movie showcasing the work of our world movement, our extraordinary November 2008 Masorti Olami Tribute concert, and our environment friendly ad journal featuring good wishes from our generous supporters.
The second is a CD entitled "Judaism and the Environment". Why a CD about the environment? The value and responsibility of taking care of our environment is emphasized in our tradition. This CD presents useful resources on environmental conservation and activism from a Jewish perspective, highlighting the Conservative/Masorti position and environmental challenges facing our world (including Israel) today. Many of the contributors include Masorti/Conservative environmental experts, rabbis, educators and community leaders. Our hope is that we will influence Conservative/Masorti communities to bring environment-friendly actions and consciousness into our lives. We thank the editors Ehud and Tanya Zion Waldoks, and Shlomo Lipshitz, video editor, for their excellent work, as well as those who contributed their ideas and words of Torah to this project. We are grateful for the support of Keren Kayemet Le'Yisrael, Jewish National Fund, the World Zionist Organization and our partners who helped make this project possible.
For more information, contact: 
New Director of Masorti AMLAT
Masorti AMLAT Director, Ariel BlufsteinMasorti AMLAT (Latin America) is pleased to announce the appointment of Lic. Ariel Blufstein as Executive Director.  He will be replacing Isabel Burstein who will be returning to her work in Jewish education. Ariel Blufstein is presently the Executive Director of FEDECC (Federation of Conservative Communities) in Argentina and has many years of experience in working with the Jewish community.

Blufstein officially assumed his new position at the Masorti AMLAT board meeting, which took place in Buenos Aires on March 15th, 2009.

We wish Dr. Blufstein success and we are confident that he will continue the excellent work of previous Executive Directors.  He can be contacted at:
New Vice-Chancellor at the Seminario Rabinico Latinamericano "Marshall T. Meyer"
Rabbi Leonard BitranThe Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano "Marshall T. Meyer," the academic center for Latin-American Conservative/Masorti Movement, recently announced the appointment of Rabbi Leonardo A. Bitran as its new Vice-Chancellor for Rabbinic and Academic affairs.
Rabbi Bitran, a native of Chile, attended the Seminario as a student in 1985, transferred to the Jewish Theological Seminary, studied in Israel for two years and graduated from JTS in 1992.  He has served as rabbi of Agudas Achim Congregation in San Antonio, Texas since 2003.

Rabbi Bitran assumes a new and challenging role to aid students to become better rabbis, cantors and Jewish educators.  He hopes to foster a stronger appreciation and love for Torah and Jewish traditions among Latin-American Jews.

We wish Rabbi Bitran success in his new position.
Kehilat Nitzan, Melbourne Celebrates its 10th Anniversary
Kehilat Nitzan celebration 
On March 29, Kehilat Nitzan celebrated the 10th anniversary of its founding.  Judy Feiglin, President of Kehilat Nitzan, officially welcomed the participants to the festivities. During the afternoon, various members spoke about what Kehilat Nitzan means to them. A video presentation of greetings was screened from rabbis and educators who assisted Kehilat Nitzan throughout its years. Rabbi Ehud Bandel, who has served as rabbi of the community since January 2006 and has been invaluable in the development of Kehilat Nitzan, addressed the participants.
 In photo (left to right) : Rabbi Bandel, Emily Yossef, John Rosenberg, President Judy Feiglin
 Emily was the first Bat Mitzvahat Kehilat Nitzan in May 1999. Her father, Itzik Yossef, co-founded the Minyan with John Rosenberg and gave the Minyan its name - Kehilat Nitzan

At the celebration, John Rosenberg, founder of the kehillah, said, "I feel a little like Joseph as I stand here, because ten and half years ago I had a dream to start a Conservative/Masorti minyan in Melbourne. Like Joseph, I wasn't quite sure where this dream would take me, but I certainly did not think that it would be where we are today. From a "nitzan", a bud of a flower, Kehilat Nitzan is now a strong and vibrant Masorti Jewish community which adds diversity and strength to the Melbourne Jewish community...We now look forward to our next ten years and beyond. The most exciting thing on the horizon is our new building."
 "Mazal Tov" to our members down under. May you continue to blossom and grow!  
Another Successful Summer at Camp Elyse, NOAM Argentina
by  Yoel Schvartz (Masorti Shaliach) and Alejandro Cozachocow (Coordinator NOAM Argentina)
Camp Elyse 2008Over 1500 campers and 400 staff members participated in the fourteen summer camps of Camp Elyse, NOAM Argentina in December/January. The educational theme for the summer was the Prophets. We were fortunate to have the guidance and support of Rabbi Daniel Goldman (rabbi of Bet El), Seminario rabbinical students Marcos Perelmutter (Amijai) and Gustavo Katzuni (Beit Israel) who worked on the educational background of the theme with the madrichim from the sixteen kehillot with NOAM chapters.
We personally had the opportunity to experience the spirituality that was present in each of the camps. An emphasis was placed on developing the close relationship with our tradition by recovering the concept of "simcha" (joy) in tefillot. Services were filled with joy and dance led by the NOAM madrichim. Another important achievement of the camps was the emphasis on improving the Masorti identity of the campers by including more Jewish practice in the daily life of the camp routine. This is a result of many years of hard work in the framework of NOAM.

The success of our camps this past summer confirms that the framework of NOAM in Argentina has a strong impact on the youth of our Masorti kehillot. As we celebrate 10 years of NOAM Argentina in 2009, we are proud that we have been able to promote a common space in which the educational message of the Masorti Movement is the principal tool on which our madrichim make Judaism an integral part of the life of more and more youth.
News from Assembly of Masorti Synagogues (AMS) UK
reported by Michael Gluckman, Director 
Masorti AMLAT Director, Ariel BlufsteinThere has been a busy year for our movement, kehillot, NOAM, and Marom.
A conference took place in February on "Creating a Welcoming Community" with Dr. Ron Wolfson, Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University in California.  His very perceptive observations raised in his workshop gave us all much food for thought and action.
The new leadership initiative program "Atid Chadash" is now well under way. Part of the program includes monthly learning sessions with our Masorti rabbis in a series entitled "Masorti Uncovered".   There are still two more sessions of this series which will take place:
Tues., April 21:   When, where and how do we meet God? Is there a unique Masorti approach to questions of faith?  With Rabbi Jeremy Gordon & Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
 Tues., May 12: Mitzva and Obligation- with Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg & Matt Plen
For more information, please contact:
This month we're launching the Jewish Educators' Network.  The network's goal is to enhance traditional, pluralist Jewish textual education in the Masorti movement and across Anglo-Jewry.  We'll be working with educators from chedarim, Jewish schools, family education projects and children's services.  This month we're holding inaugural meetings with over twenty rabbis, professional educators and lay-leaders from all the Masorti communities, the pluralistic Jewish schools and key communal agencies - UJIA and Leo Baeck College. 
Our kehillot continue to develop.  Our newest budding community in Haringey/Stoke Newington held their first Shabbaton in February. Their first Megillah reading attracted 40 people. Our young kehillah, Elstree and Borehamwood Masorti, is attracting new members and implementing exciting programs. 
NOAM is thriving! From the 17th - 19th April our Mega-Mini Machaneh (camp) for years 5 - 8 will take place. NOAM has almost filled all its places for summer camp with a record number of madrichim (counselors) applying for positions.  25 NOAM and Marom participants travelled to Poland last week for an educational tour. We look forward to sharing their experiences.
For more information about Masorti activities in UK, visit:
New Shlichim to Melbourne 
Shlichim to Melbourne 2009Reut Aisenberg, Nir Issachar and Naomi Rowen are currently in Melbourne, Australia serving as our new shlichim (emissaries) to Bialik College and Kehilat Nitzan. The three shlichim work in the area of informal Jewish education at Bialik College, a Jewish day school with students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. At Kehilat Nitzan they are involved in the kehillah. Naomi, Nir and Reut have a lot to contribute and will certainly gain from the wealth of experiences they will have in Melbourne.
Our 2008 shlichim, Michael Gottlieb, Yair Brosh and Vered Hugi, are now back home in Israel. We thank them for their outstanding work and wish them success in their future endeavors.
Harlows visit Beit Yisrael, Lisbon 

Group photo Lisbon

 Communidade Judaica Masorti Beit Yisrael, a community of bnai anusim
 (conversos) in Lisbon, Portugal. The Harlows have been an instrumental
part of the development of Beit Yisrael over the past three years, traveling a
number of times a year to teach and guide members. On their visit in March,
they also spent time with Bet El Madrid. We thank them for their efforts
and devotion.
Rabbi Jules Harlow (standing on right) with members of Beit Yisrael. Photo by Navah Harlow.
 !חמש חספ גח
Wishing you a Pesach kasher v'sameach!
Rabbi Tzvi Graetz - Executive Director and CEO of Masorti Olami
Masorti Olami