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Summer Travel? Make Connections to Enrich your Judaism!

As we all head off on what I hope are refreshing and relaxing summer vacations, I hope that you will take the time to also refresh your Judaism.

One of the best ways to do this is to be brave and visit our sister Reform Jewish communities all over the world.   Seeing how others are able to persevere in their Jewish identity – and more so their Progressive Jewish identity – in small communities geographically scattered across the world is a reminder of what we take for granted here in Toronto and a reminder of the importance of our own community.

These are also communities which sustain our university students when they study abroad.

When you are planning your trip, you can find our friendly communities online here or on the travel app.

Here are just two Holy Blossom connections that I made while I was in Prague recently for the European Union of Progressive Judaism’s conference.

Our URJ Camp George educator here in Canada this summer, Debs Blaustein, ran a 20s and 30s leadership track in Prague – and our member, Robyn Goldhar who is currently living in London, England was selected as a participant on this leadership track.  By attending the conference, I know that Robyn now has a rich connection to Progressive Jews and Jewish communities all around Europe, a feeling of belonging when traveling that will only deepen as she attends services and social events with these dynamic leaders from all around Europe.

Another connection is that our member John Freund knows the incoming Rabbi to the Prague community!  When I was leading High Holy Day services in Prague over 10 years ago, Prague was not a friendly place to be a Progressive Jew – the establishment orthodoxy controlled the Jewish Federation – as often is the case abroad- and Reform Judaism had to elbow its way in.  But time and perseverance means that a new generation of leaders who grew up together – some who represent the establishment and some who are Reform Jews  – are working well together.  The soon-to-be-ordained incoming leader of the Reform community in Prague’s name is Student Rabbi David Maxa – Student Rabbi Maxa is married to a granddaughter of one of John Freund’s fellow survivors of Auschwitz.

Even when we live our lives thousands of miles apart, our connections to our sister communities around the globe run deep.

In addition to visiting, you can also feel this connection in this amazing video put together about our twinning, overseen by Jill Kamin, with our sister community in Israel, Kehilat Hashachar, here.

And at Holy Blossom on Shabbat, October 19th and the Monday which follows, we’ll have the chance to learn from the Principal (Head of School) at Leo Baeck College, our movement’s rabbinical school in London.  Registration for the dinner is now open here.

If you would like to know more about the World Union for Progressive Judaism and how to connect beyond the congregation finder and the app, I am happy to talk, as are our members Carole Sterling (Chair), and Les Rothschild (Executive Board member).

Please have a safe and fulfilling summer, and as you travel, reach out to our communities around the world.  They will appreciate your contact, and your Judaism will be enriched from the encounter.

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