Date for November

January 10, 2018 by Rabbi Fred Morgan
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Planning is already well underway for the Union for Progressive Judaism’s biennial conference in Melbourne in November 2018.

Conceived as the most inspirational, innovative and Jewishly engaging conference for many decades, it will reaffirm the UPJ’s commitment to the idea of progress which is at the very heart of the movement’s vision.
Spearheading the conference will be the keynote speaker, Rabbi Dr Larry Hoffman.

Rabbi Dr Larry Hoffman

Hoffman has for many years been professor of liturgy at the Hebrew Union College in New York. He is a world-renowned expert in what he has termed “the art of public prayer” – how to bring new life into ancient forms of ritual within the walls of the synagogue. Among his accomplishments is the publication of the ground-breaking ten volume series “My People’s Prayerbook,” the most complete commentary on the siddur ever created, which features contributions from scholars from across all the Jewish denominations.

Hoffman is not only a liturgist. He has also written extensively on the spiritual character of the Land of Israel, including a popular travel guide for Jewish pilgrims to Israel. His engagement with Israel has both reflected and energised the Progressive commitment to Israel, her unique place in human history, her identity as a Jewish state and the diversity of her people. By highlighting the spiritual role of Israel in Jewish consciousness, he has enabled generations of Progressive leaders to get beyond the divisive politics of the country and refocus attention on Israel’s abiding values which are at the core of our common Jewish experience.

Dayyenu! As if these accomplishments weren’t enough, Hoffman has also set the standards for synagogue renewal and transformation in the 21st century. His projects “Synagogue 2000” and “Synagogue 3000” have revolutionised Jewish communal life across America and, indeed, around the world. Our current reimagining of the synagogue as Jewish community centre, which is again seen across all the major denominations, is evidence of this. So is the contemporary focus on generation-specific programming, from tot-Shabbats to seniors’ clubs. Just take a look at the local activities pages of the AJN and Hoffman’s influence is visible everywhere – even if the participants are themselves unaware of “Synagogue 2000/3000”!

These three major themes – liturgy, Israel and communal transformation – will provide the framework for the UPJ’s Biennial in November, as well as progressive programming over several years to come.

The conference will be open to anyone who wishes to attend and who is eager to see Jewish values progress into the future.

To learn more about the UPJ Biennial Conference, email: upj@upj.org.au or visit www.upj.org.au.

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