Argentinean lawmaker quits Rabbinical Assembly over failure to bridge Reform-Conservative divide
Sergio Bergman, the first rabbi to be elected a congressman in Latin America, makes surprise public announcement that he is leaving the Rabbinical Assembly.
The first rabbi to be elected a congressman in Latin America announced his resignation from the Rabbinical Assembly.
Sergio Bergman made the announcement Saturday at the World Union of Progressive Judaism gathering in Buenos Aires, which ended Sunday.
“I was born Reform and a tried during more than twenty years that the Reform and Conservative (movements) worked together," Bergman said. "Today I am resigning from the assembly, I am finishing my effort. I believe that it is correct to recognize also our own failures,” said Bergman, who has two rabbinical ordinations: one from the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly and another from the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis.
The challenges of working together despite different approaches, and the necessity for vision and leadership were developed in detail during his speech, which ended with the surprising public announcement.
The president of the Latin-American Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Judaism, Rabbi Marcelo Polakoff, was also at the event. “Some rabbis want to look to one side to look at the Orthodox, another looks to the other side to look at the Reform. I think is time to look together to the real challenge, to the real problem, to look far away to all the Jewish unaffiliated and those outside of institutions; it is time to work closer,” Polakoff said at the opening ceremony.
Bergman told JTA the words of the Rabbinical Assembly leader in Latin America were “very positive and courageous in order to joints efforts in the future.” The announcement was made in the opening plenary titled “The Evolving Role Of The Rabbi In Jewish Tradition.”
Bergman, the senior rabbi of Congregacion Israelita Argentina, won a seat on the Buenos Aires municipal legislature in July 2011, leading the election with 45 percent of the vote, more than triple the second-place finisher, who had 14 percent.
Bergman recognizes that “I tried all over my life to make this harmony possible. In the last 20 years impressive achievements were made. The presence of some Conservative-oriented associations in the WUPJ meeting is an achievement. I’m retiring now from this effort and I hope new progress will make in the future” he told JTA.
Asked by JTA if he would continue as a rabbi he said “yes, I will continue as a 'polydox' rabbi.”
More than 300 people are participating in the fourth Latin American meeting of the World Union of Progressive Judaism, hosted by Argentina's Mishkan Jewish Spirituality Center, the Argentinean member of WUPJ, umbrella group of 1,200 Progressive, Liberal and Reconstructionist congregations in 45 countries representing 1.8 million people.
“We are following the right path, we didn’t degrade any other path. This meeting is a safeguard of the continuity of the Jewish People in the region,” said Miriam Vasserman, leader of the Israelite Paulista Congregation in Sao Paulo, Brazil and also President of WUPJ Latin America, during the opening ceremony.
Judaica Foundation, NCI-Emanuel World Masorti congregation, Libertad Temple and the Association Israelite of the Pampas helped to organize the meeting.
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