Interesting Facts About Progressive Judaism Around The World
Consider using these facts for a weekly "World Reform Judaism Trivia Question" in your congregation's religious school.
The World Union for Progressive Judaism is the largest body of religious Jews in the world, encompassing more than 1,200 Reform, Progressive, Liberal and Reconstructionist congregations and more than 1.5 million members in more than 40 countries. The Union for Reform Judaism is a part of the World Union.
The Reform movement in Israel includes 25 congregations, 48 preschools, the Tali Bayit Vagan elementary school in Jerusalem, the Leo Baeck Education Center in Haifa, two kibbutzim in the Negev -- Yahel and Lotan -- and a village in the Galilee, Har Halutz. The movement also operates a program to help Israeli public school teachers educate their students about pluralistic expressions of Judaism.
The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), the social action arm of the Israeli Reform movement, is one of the main institutions in Israel promoting democracy and human rights. IRAC takes legal action against religious discrimination, operates a program of legal assistance for new immigrants, educates the public about democracy, offers a clearinghouse for researchers into religion-state issues, and provides food packages to needy families before holidays and books for needy children at the start of the school year.
The number of Reform Jews in the former Soviet Union has been growing rapidly. Thirteen years ago there was only one small Reform congregation in Moscow; today there are nearly 100 congregations and groups, from the Baltic states in the west to Khabarovsk near the Sea of Japan.
There are now five native-born Reform rabbis in the former Soviet Union, all of whom have been ordained in the past five years. They include Alexander Dukhovny, the only rabbi in Ukraine who is a citizen of that country, and Nelly Shulman, the first and only woman rabbi in the Soviet Union and its successor states.
A day school in Lviv (also known as Lvov), in western Ukraine, is the only Reform Jewish day school in the former Soviet Union. Established in 2001, the school now has approximately 125 students at the preschool and elementary school level. Lviv was home to one of the largest Reform congregation in Eastern Europe before World War II; that congregation was revived three years ago.
The oldest congregation in the Western Hemisphere, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel in Curaçao, is affiliated with the World Union for Progressive Judaism. The congregation was established in 1651 by Jews from Amsterdam who had fled Spain and Portugal because of the Inquisition. The congregation follows the Sephardic liturgical tradition. It belongs to the Reconstructionist branch of Progressive Judaism.
One of the world's oldest Progressive congregations is located in Mumbai (Bombay), India. The Jewish Religious Union of Mumbai was established in 1925, one year before the World Union for Progressive Judaism itself, and was represented at the first World Union international convention in Berlin.
The network of Progressive congregations and institutions in Argentina, Fundación Judaica, has been playing a leading role in responding to that country's economic crisis. The network provides free lunches, medicines, job placement and other assistance to needy Jews and non-Jews. The network currently includes seven congregations, two schools and a youth movement.
Prepared by the World Union for Progressive Judaism, North America.