Celebrating 25 Years of:The Israel Religious Action CenterPreschool NetworkLeading Israel's Jewish RenaissanceStrengthening Israel's DemocracyAnnual Report 2011-2012 l June 2012
Written by: Davida Chazan; Edited by: Chen AbrahamsGraphic Design: Stephanie & Ruti Design
Table of ContentsA Message from the IMPJ Executive Director and Chairperson . 4The IMPJ Vision, Mission & Task . 6Enriching Communities across Israel with Progressive Jewish Activities . . 8Bringing Children, Teachers and Parents Closer to Progressive Judaism . 12Honoring Ganei Haim on its 25th Anniversary . 16Developing the Next Generation of Leaders . 18Promoting Social Justice in Israel for 25 Years - IRAC . 24Strengthening Israel's Society through "Tikkun Olam" . . 26Reaching out to Israel's Russian Speaking Population . . 28Celebrating Reform & Progressive Judaism through Jewish Life-Cycle Events . 32Building Global Partnerships for Reform & Progressive Judaism . 34Enhancing Israeli Culture with Progressive Values . 38Witnessing the Growth of Progressive Judaism in Israel - Academic Survey Findings . 40Financial Overview . 41IMPJ by the Numbers . 42Thank You! . 43
A Message from IMPJ ExecutiveDirector & ChairpersonDear Friends,On the first Shabbat of June 2012, only days after the historical agreement withthe Israel Government regarding the funding of our rabbis in regional councils(the case of Rabbi Miri Gold), 1,200 members from Israeli Movement for Reformand Progressive Judaism (IMPJ) gathered in Kibbutz Shefayim to celebrate the20th Biennial Conference. These two events demonstrate how on the one hand,our movement promotes the values of pluralism, freedom of religion, and equalityfor all Jewish streams through our legal public action, led by the Israel ReligiousAction Center (IRAC), and on the other hand, touches the lives of thousands ofIsraeli families through our growing community, educational and cultural grassrootsactivities.These unique forces came together during the IMPJ Biennial when we celebrated25 years of IRAC – the legal and public arm of our movement, along with 25 yearsof Ganei Haim – the Jewish pluralistic network of preschools.During the Biennial, leading politicians came to Shefayim to speak to our audience,giving further evidence to the impact our movement has on Israel’s society.Furthermore, the conference concluded with welcoming four new congregationsinto the movement: Kehillat Yovel in Gedera, Kiryat HaYovel Havurah in Jerusalem,Miskanot Ruth in Jaffa and Kehillat Halev in Tel Aviv.The theme of the biennial was “To Learn and To Do”. This motto is embedded in allof our work. We are proud to present you with this annual report, which shows thegrowth and diversity of our activities of learning and doing. We would like to expressour deepest gratitude to all of our communities, rabbis, educators, lay leaders,professional staff and especially to our supporters and partners around the world.We invite you all to join us in leading Israel’s Jewish renaissance and strengtheningIsrael’s democracy.Sincerely,Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Adv.Executive Director4Adv. Yaron ShavitChairmanRabbi Gilad Kariv, Adv.Adv. Yaron ShavitWe would liketo express ourdeepest gratitude toall of our communities,rabbis, educators, layleaders, professional staffand especially to oursuppor ters and par tnersaround the world.
Vision of the Israel Movement forReform & Progressive Judaism (IMPJ)for the State of Israel and Israeli SocietyThe State of Israel will act in accordance with the values laiddown in its Declaration of Independence: as a Jewish state,embracing all forms of Jewish religion and culture, fulfillingthe moral and universal values of Judaism, and serving asdemocratic state, protecting individual human dignity, equalityand religious freedom, promoting pluralism, communal life,social and environmental responsibility, and committed to allof its citizens regardless of religion, creed, race, gender or sex.Mission of the Israel Movementfor Reform & Progressive JudaismThe Israel Movement for Reform & Progressive Judaism, havingearned significant recognition as a leader of the spiritual,intellectual, educational and public discourse in Israel and inthe Reform and Progressive Jewish world, will act as a religiousand social movement, for all ages, dynamic and sustainable,working throughout Israel and amongst a broad sector of Israeliaudiences.Principal TaskTo significantly increase the numbers of Israelis who enjoyexperiences identified with Reform and Progressive Judaism,in a way that promotes long-term identification with thevalues of the movement, and connection with the movement'scommunities and activities.6
EnrichingCommunities across Israel with Progressive Jewish ActivitiesBy building 37 progressive Jewish communities across the country, the IMPJ hastaken a leading role in fulfilling the task of ensuring that Israeli citizens can haveaccess to pluralistic formal and informal education, Shabbat and holiday celebrationsand more.The IMPJ New Communities are being developed according to three models: With communities where there are no congregations, the IMPJ works with localleaders to create new initiatives. In 2011 the IMPJ started two new communitiesin Rosh Pina and Caesarea. With large, established communities the IMPJ helps initiate satellite communities.In 2011-12, Kol Haneshama, a veteran community in Jerusalem, worked tostrengthen the satellite community in the Kiryat HaYovel neighborhood. BeitDaniel in Tel Aviv worked to strengthen Miskanot Ruth in Jaffa and Kehillat HaLevin Central Tel Aviv. The IMPJ cooperates with kibbutzim and peripheral regional councils to assistthem in integrating Jewish pluralistic celebrations, traditions and study intotheir communities. In 2011-12 the IMPJ continued the development of threenew regional communities: Sha’ar HaNegev (near Sderot), Arava (near Eilat) andMegiddo-Yokneam (Lower Galilee).An approximated40 Reformand pluralisticShavuot activitieswere plannedacross the countryfor thousands ofparticipants.Highlights:Looking Ahead: A Women’s Leadership Training Course was established with the help of theWomen of Reform Judaism (WRJ) in Israel and included 22 participants. IMPJ community development will focuson assisting the new communities inBeersheba, Rosh Pina, and Caesarea. The first national “Shaliach Tzibur”(prayer leading) course was opened inpartnership with HUC-Jerusalem. 10% increase in egalitarian, pluralistic Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremonies. Out of the over 40 communities holding Yom Kippur services, seven were held innew locations for the first time, with an increase in participants of 75% over last year. Communities established during 2010-11 are showing more than a 200% increasein numbers of participants over their first year’s activities. This includes celebrationsof holidays, Shabbat services, study sessions, children’s activities, and more. An approximated 40 Reform and pluralistic Shavuot activities are planned acrossthe country for thousands of participants, including many “Tikkun Leil Shavuot”(all night study), tours and special prayer services, to include children and theirfamilies in their respective communities.8 I Enriching Communities Across Israel with Progressive Jewish Activities The IMPJ will also work on expandingactivities in fledgling communities suchas the Megiddo-Yokneam, Sha’ar HaNegev,the Arava region, Holon, Gedera, ShiratHaYam (Haifa) and Even Yehuda. The IMPJ will continue to wor k tosignificantly increase the numbers ofIsraelis who enjoy experiences identifiedwith Reform and Progressive Judaismthroughout the country.
EnrichingCommunities Across Israelwith Progressive Jewish Activities9
Rosh Pina's First Bar Mitzvah10 I Enriching Communities Across Israel with Progressive Jewish Activities
EnrichingCommunities Across Israelwith Progressive Jewish ActivitiesGil & Ma’ayan MatzBuilding a New Pluralistic Jewish Communityin Rosh PinaGil & Ma’ayan Matz are two members of the budding Jewish community of RoshPina. While Ma’ayan comes from a totally secular background, Gil had a reform BarMitzvah at Or Hadash (Haifa). In the 1990s the couple was sent by the Jewish Agencyto the USA as emissaries (Shlichim). There they worked on campuses with Hillelgroups and met many Reform students. This was Ma’ayan first exposure to ReformJudaism, which encouraged Ma’ayan to get her BA in Jewish studies. After theirreturn to Israel, Ma’ayan continued her studies at HaMidrasha in Oranim and madetheir first attempts to bring Reform Judaism to the members of Kibbutz Kadarim,with little success.One of Ma’ayan’s experiences that reinforced her desire to lead a pluralistic Jewishlife was when she went to a Simchat Torah service with her daughters in a localsynagogue. When they went to dance with the Torah, they didn’t realize theyhad inadvertently gone into the men’s section, as there was no separation set up.She remembers feeling both hurt and insulted when suddenly they announced“all women please leave”. The next year, that synagogue put up a barrier. “If I’mnot allowed to be totally involved, I can’t connect. It’s as if I’m not considered aperson just because I am a woman”. Ma’ayan added, “But not being part of a Jewishcommunity is not an option. If I don’t go to synagogue, I feel like I’m breaking a linkto Judaism for my daughters and myself”.or nothing but when they are exposed toalternatives where no one is judging themor forcing anything on them, they are moreopen to connect to their Jewish identity andthe Jewish people on a deeper level”.“There is a whole gamut of experiences yet tobe discovered and included in our lives” andfor the community of Rosh Pina, the seedsthat people like the Matz family have sown,are just beginning to sprout. not being par t of a Jewishcommunity is not an option. IfI don’t go to synagogue, I feellike I’m breaking a link to Judaism for mydaughters and myself”.The turning point happened six years after they moved to Rosh Pina. Ma’ayan andGil approached the IMPJ for support and guidance in building a new community.The IMPJ sent Rabbi Golan Ben-Chorin, and together they helped the communityunderstand that being Jewish isn’t “just prayer, but includes study, Gemilut Hasadim(acts of loving kindness), and a sense of belonging”.It took time and patience for the Matz family to get the Jewish pluralistic communityin Rosh Pina up and running, and according to Ma’ayan, it is an ongoing process.For now, they only hold Kabbalat Shabbat and Limmud (study) activities once amonth, but the people who attend are mostly secular Jews. “This is encouragingbecause Israelis seem to be more distanced from Judaism than Jews in the USAwhere pluralism is more acceptable. Here people think you should be either all11
BringingChildren, Teachers and Parents Closer to Progressive JudaismThe mission of the IMPJ Department of Education is on the one hand, to support anddevelop educational facilities operating within and alongside IMPJ congregations,and on the other hand, mainstream its pluralistic Jewish educational content in statepublic schools, in order to promote a stronger liberal Jewish identity throughoutIsraeli society.In the IMPJ’s 55 nursery schools/kindergartens, five elementary schools (grades1-6), and two high schools (grades 7-12), progressive Judaism is part of the corecurriculum. These receive ongoing support from the IMPJ’s education department,through teacher training, educational materials, rabbinical guidance, and muchmore. Together, this creates a full Jewish experience for children, their families andtheir communities.In addition, the IMPJ is actively working within the state public school system,to implement key elements of its Jewish enrichment programs in preschools,elementary schools and afterschool activities. These educational programs createa continuum of opportunities for children and their families, as well as their teachers,to become acquainted with liberal Jewish experiences, take part in “Tikkun Olam”,and participate in a broad spectrum of communal pluralistic and egalitarianactivities. In this way, from an early age, children can begin experiencing a sense ofcompleteness and stability that comes from being part of a Jewish community.Highlights: In 2011 the Ministry of Education approved IMPJ’s 6th grade curriculum for their“Jewish Heritage and Culture” studies. 20 schools with approximately 800 studentshave adopted this curriculum. The Ministry of Education approved the IMPJ curriculum for the 5th grade. For the first time, two of the IMPJ elementary schools - Yozma in Modi’in and LeoBaeck in Haifa - have created a full six-year continuity of classes from 1st through6th grades. All seven IMPJ schools now have educational rabbis as members of theirpermanent faculty. All these rabbis participate in a forum to discuss content andconsult on the various aspects of the Jewish education. 20 educators in Holon participated in the IMPJ training for after-schoolprograms.12 I Bringing Children, Teachers and Parents Closer to Progressive Judaism The IMPJ wrote the Jewish enrichmentcurriculum to train early childhoodteachers and coordinators for the city ofHolon. New early childhood educational kits onJudaism and the Environment and theShavuot holiday have been completed.The kits include workbooks and activitiesfor children and families.The IMPJ is activelyworking within thestate public schoolsystem, to implement keyelements of its Jewishenrichment programs inpreschools, elementaryschools and afterschoolactivities.
BringingChildren, Teachers and ParentsCloser to Progressive JudaismLooking Ahead: In 2012-13, the IMPJ will open a pluralistickindergarten in Holon. This will be thefirst specialized and only pluralistickindergarten for the city. The Sidney and Freda Davidson Educationaland Cultural Center at Kehillat MevaksheiDerech in Jerusalem will be completed in2012 and will open three new kindergartenclasses. 100 after-school frameworks in Holon willreceive enrichment programs written bythe IMPJ. The IMPJ “Jewish Heritage and Culture”curriculum for the 5th grade approvedby the Ministry of Education will startimplementation for the 2012-13 schoolyear. Two School-to-School (S2S) programswill be offered for the 2012-13 schoolyear. “Yachdav” (together) will connect 25classes in Israel, with 25 in the USA, anda joint IMPJ-JAFI Bar/Bat Mitzvah pilotprogram will match 10 Israeli schools with10 Jewish schools in the USA and the UK.13
BringingChildren, Teachers and ParentsCloser to Progressive JudaismLeora Ezrachi-VeredFollowing in a Family TraditionWith a family that has always been highly involved in pluralistic and Reform Judaismin Israel, it was only natural that Leora Ezrachi-Vered was a member of the first classof Ganei Haim, which opened 25 years ago. While some children turn away fromreligion as they grow up, Leora instead became equally active in the IMPJ.“As a child growing up. I clearly remember leading Kabbalat Shabbat when I was14. It was the first time I stood up in front of hundreds of people . Besides theexcitement. I remember how much it meant to me to lead a community in prayerand the responsibility of the occasion”.Leora is the mother of one-year old Eitan. When she was asked what she would tellother parents about her experience in a pluralistic kindergarten, she answered “. areform pluralist kindergarten gives you the foundation for the way to view Jewishlife, as something integral, authentic and part of who you are. It gave me a languagefor Jewish living and learning and a way to frame it as “fun” and enjoyable. I thinkit also gave me a deeper outlook on life and an understanding that I am a part ofJewish History.”“Today, I realize that the IMPJ has given me the ability to access Jewish texts andrituals and create a meaningful, personal and family experience through study,prayer and communal activities. Being in the movement has also given me a politicaland social outlook on life and Israeli society, which makes me a more active andcaring citizen”.Now Leora is the director of Noar Telem (the IMPJ Youth Movement), and recentlydecided to pursue a rabbinical degree at HUC (where her mother is the Dean). So itseems Leora’s growing up in the IMPJ is far from finished. a reform pluralist kindergartengives you the foundation forthe way to view Jewish life, assomething integral, authentic and part ofwho you are ”15
HonoringGanei Haim’s 25th Anniversary25 years ago, a group of professionals and HUC rabbinical students with youngchildren were looking for a different Jewish education for their children. At that time,these families lived in areas where only orthodox or secular options were available.HUC-JIR Dean Rabbi Na’ama Kelman remembers “we wanted to establish a ReformJewish educational initiative, which would grow from the kindergarten, and continueall the way through High School. We dreamed of nurturing Israelis who could ‘speakReform’. Today, children in Jerusalem can have a progressive Jewish education fromage 2 through 18”. When asked how she feels when she looks at these kindergartenstoday, Rabbi Kelman can only say: “nachas, nachas, nachas”.With Jewish pluralism in mind, Ganei Haim is shaping its curriculum to fit the needsof the children and their families. Every week starts with a Havdalah service andends with a Kabbalat Shabbat. Hands-on Jewish activities are integrated in the dailyprograms and special attention is taken for learning about the various holidaysas well as celebrating Rosh Hodesh with a festive communal breakfast. No lessimportant are the “Tikkun Olam” activities such as clothing and food drives, donatingbirthday gifts to underprivileged children and making Mishloach Manot for Soldiersprior to Purim. Families are included through weekly newsletters and by beinginvited to events in the schools throughout the year such as Pesach, Hanukkah anda special “Seder” for Tu Be’Shevat, and Holiday kits are made available with activitiesfor the whole family, which are also used in their respective communities.Ganei Haim teaches tolerance and acceptance through its unique makeup. This isreflected in the staff which includes teachers that are Haredi, Arab, Ethiopian, andRussian. Ganei Haim also prides itself in accepting children with special needs thatother preschools have turned away. Furthermore, major organizations such as Yadb’Yad (the National Jewish Council for Disabilities) and USAid have contacted GaneiHaim regarding both its Jewish enrichment and its “Tikkun O