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Progressive Jews Meet in Buenos Aires

The World Union for Progressive Judaism will gather in Buenos Aires for the fourth Conference of the Jewish Communities of Latin America.

The Mishkan Jewish Spirituality Center will host the event Aug. 8-12 for an umbrella group of 1,200 Progressive, Liberal and Reconstructionist congregations in 45 countries representing 1.8 million people.

Mishkan is one the few clearly Reform communities in the region, with more than 300 participants, Mishkan Secretary Ricardo Rotholtz of the Judaica Foundation and the NCI-Emanuel World Masorti congregation, told JTA, “so our city is a very important area for WUPJ.”

Libertad Temple and the Association Israelite of the Pampas helped to organize the meeting.

Rabbi Stephen Fuchs, president of the Union for Progressive Judaism, is scheduled to attend the conference, as well as Jack Terpins, president of the Latin American Jewish Congress; Dr. David Breakstone, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization; Rabbi Michael Marmur, vice president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute in Jerusalem; and Miriam Vasserman, a leader of the Israelite Paulista Congregation in Sao Paulo, Brazil, among others

The agenda include topics such as “Connecting youth and adults to the State of Israel”; “Combating anti-Israel bias”; “Conversions and Anusim”; “Varieties of Progressive traditions around the world”; and “Assimilation, Intermarriage, Changes in the Jewish Family – what congregations can do to ensure Jewish continuity.”

On a local note, other topics to be explored include “Populism and Anti-Semitism in Latin America”; “Rabbinic training in South America”; and “Conversions performed by rabbis from other regions.”

The presence of the WUPJ has grown in Latin America in the last decade. An office was opened in South America in 2005 creating WUPJ Latin America. Biannual meetings were conducted in 2006 in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and in 2008 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In February 2011, the region sent 31 participants from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico to represent Latin America at the last global meeting of WUPJ.

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