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Conference signals new era for SAUPJ

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The SAUPJ (South African Union for Progressive Judaism) biennial conference at Cape Town's Temple Israel earlier this month heralded a new era for the progressive community in SA. The story made world news after being published on the WUPJ (World Union) website and newsletter last week. Alvin Kushner is the SAUPJ's new national chair, replacing Steve Lurie who retired after holding the post for the past ten years.
by ANT KATZ | Jun 30, 2014

The Cape Town Conference marked the retirement of Steve Lurie after 10-year tenure as SAUPJ chair. In his place, the Conference selected Alvin Kushner as SAUPJ's new national chair and Lynton Travis as the Gauteng regional chair.

Kushner is a member of Temple Israel and has served in numerous positions, both in the Temple and on the SAUPJ national board. Travis is at Bet David in Sandton.

Saupj dance
RIGHT: This picture, with the caption: “Dancing the Night Away: Havdallah, South African Style” appeared internationally

 

The WUPJ's Vice President for International Development Rabbi Joel Oseran noted: "The SAUPJ and the WUPJ have been blessed to have had the calibre of leadership provided by Steve Lurie during his long and distinguished service to Progressive Judaism nationally and internationally. We owe him and Rahle, who has been at his side always, our profound gratitude."

The Conference program was full of sessions aimed at developing Jewish education and strengthening Jewish commitment so as to support democracy, freedom, tolerance and compassion.

READ MORE SAUPJ STORIES ON SAJR ONLINE

“The 'Biblical References to the Importance of Unity in Diversity' was a Conference highlight,” wrote the WUPJ, “as was the 'What do we Want from the Future SAUPJ in an Ideal World' round table group and plenary session.

Rabbi Oseran led sessions on Israel and World Jewry while Director of JHub and former head of the Reform Movement in the UK Rabbi Shoshana Boyd Gelfand served as scholar in residence for the Conference and gave sessions on leadership and group dynamics.

Meet the new SAUPJ national chairman

Alvin Kushner - born 11 March 1942.

Studied Commercial Art at Cape Tech and UCT for 3 years in the sixties but decided not to pursue it as a career. Spent much of his career in the motor industry where he owned vehicle sales outlets which he sold 20 years ago.

  • Kushner Alvin TALLIn 1996 he and his wife, Merril, reinvented themselves by entering the then fast growing tourism industry.After undergoing specialised training they established the company, Cape Rainbow Tours which they still run.
  • Has been a member of the Reform movement since the day he got married in Temple Israel Hillbrow in 1965.

Positions held in Jewish organisations.

  • National Chairman: South African Jewish Maritime League..
  • Joint Vice Chairman: SA Union for Progressive Judaism.
  • Regional Chairman: Cape Town Progressive Jewish Congregation
  • Past Chairman: Temple Israel West Coast.
  • Past Joint Vice Chairman: Cape Town Progressive Jewish Congregation.

Other Positions held.

  • Regional Chairman: Southern African Tourism Services Association. (SATSA WC)
  • Trustee: Cape Windjammers Education Trust.
  • Board Member: South African Sail Training for Life-skills Association.
  • Past Commodore and trustee:False Bay Yacht Club, Simon’s Town
  • Member: Cape Rainbow Tours cc

Family - Wife Merril, 3 surviving children and 6 grandchildren

Recreation - Sailing and Motorcycling

 

Kushner’s vision for the future of the SAUPJ

I cannot agree with those who proclaim that the SAUPJ is in trouble. Some of the challenges that we face seem to cloud the fact that we have a strong community of 10 Shuls run by 10 enthusiastic and capable Committees.. Our Shuls are all functioning; the SAUPJ office is still running.

 My vision is…

  • To expand our congregations and dispelling the negative image of the Progressive Movement has often experienced among members of the Orthodox community.
  • When engaging with Government at all levels to attain recognition as a concurrent legitimate Jewish Movement of 1.8 million members worldwide who are not subordinate to the “Chief Rabbi” but at the same time no lesser Jews than the Orthodox.
  • To engage with leaders of other faiths to share common ground.
  • To build relationships with the Orthodox and to participate in common Jewish events and institutions.
  • To make sure that our standard of Jews by Choice conversions is retained at the highest level so that the status of a Progressive Converted Jew is not devalued.
  • To recognize and respect that although the rituals are similar the culture and ruach of each of our 10 Shuls can differ.
  • To make sure that we have a long term vision for the SAUPJ and its member Shuls
  • To encourage marketing of our movement provided it’s done in a way that does not impair the dignity of our Progressive movement.
  • To improve the communication between all role players.
  • By feeling free to consult Rabbis on matters if needed.
  • To encourage our own Progressive members to get an understanding of what Progressive Judaism really is and in which way it differs from Orthodox.
  • To have reasonable financial reserves so that the SAUPJ does not have a hand to mouth existence.
  • To encourage ongoing learning among our Congregants.
  • To work very closely with the World Union for Progressive Judaism

1 Comment

  1. 1 Kevin 14 Jul
    What is the size of the reform community in SA?

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