It is a small world! Surely, many of you have had that thought. Perhaps you have read these stories or had similar experiences.
- “Do any of you know anyone who is a member of a progressive Jewish congregation in Berlin, Germany? One of my cousins will be visiting Berlin during Rosh Hashanah and she'd love to attend services.”
- “My summer travels this year took me to Paris… my French cousins introduced me to Rabbis Pauline Bebe and Tom Cohen. Rabbi Bebe, the first female rabbi in Europe, was a former WRJ scholarship recipient.”
- “The Seder (in Lisbon) that my family and I attended was only the second one that the community had ever organized.”
And unfortunately, we also have “small world” stories that are the stuff of nightmares…thankfully both stories had happy endings.
- “My sister Liz and I had a frightening experience that was transformed into something wonderful… by the sense of connectedness and concern that we experienced… Our 89-year-old father … on a cruise… had to be air-lifted to Santiago, Chile. I knew about the Jewish virtues of “visiting the sick” and “welcoming the stranger,” but I had never experienced them first-hand. Congregation Ruaj Ami (in Santiago) exemplifies all the best in Judaism." Note: Their father returned home safely.
- Awakened in the night by a phone call from the American Embassy in Riga, Latvia, I learned that (my son) Alec had been hit by a trolley…and required emergency surgery. After 10 days in Riga, Alec was well enough to return to the U.S. for additional surgery. I cannot tell you how fortunate I feel for the power and efficacy of Jewish and World Union connections who assisted us in navigating the medical system abroad, visited our son in the hospital until I could arrive, and helped me figure out how best to get Alec home. Note: Alec survived his accident without any residual issues.
Yes, it’s a connected global community with communications transcending borders and time zones. If our involvement is personal or tangential, we recognize connections to sisters and brothers around the world… K’lal Yisrael - one Jewish people. It is not surprising that WRJ offers us an opportunity to connect and partner with the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ), established in London in 1926, as the international umbrella organization of the Reform, Liberal, Progressive and Reconstructionist Movements, serving 1,200 congregations with 1.8 million members in more than 50 countries. You may think of Argentina or Australia as places where Jews live, but do you also think of China or the Czech Republic? Would you guess that the Progressive Jewish community is experiencing resurgence in Germany, Spain, and Russia? It is WUPJ’s goal to ensure that all Jews have access to a vibrant and personally meaningful Jewish life.
Did you know?
- WUPJ hosts summer youth camps, outside of North America for more than 3,000 campers and young adult counselors. Would you like to get involved?
- Annually more than 100 Reform Jewish leaders and educators attended WUPJ’s Center for Leadership Development and Education seminars. Would you like to be a participant?
- Globally, WUPJ facilitates the training of native-speaking rabbis and Jewish professionals at seminaries in Moscow, Buenos Aires, Potsdam, Jerusalem, and London. Would you like to learn more?
- WUPJ and WRJ share delegates and access status at the United Nations, representing a progressive Jewish voice at the UN. Would you like to get involved?
The answer to all of these question and much more can be found on the WUPJ website and of course, on our WRJ website.
The next time you, your family members, or friends are traveling overseas, encourage them to have an experience with other like-minded Reform Jews! WUPJ can connect you through our website or our new travel app. It’s like visiting the family you never knew you had!!
Lynn Magid Lazar is a past president of WRJ. She is a member of Women of Temple Sinai at Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh, PA, where she has been honored as a Lifetime Trustee. Lynn also serves on the Executive Board of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.
The above first appeared in the November 1 Weekly Digest of the Women of Reform Judaism.