The sages convey to us the principle, which Torah is designed to be taught, as well as learned, is "the Torah of Kindness."
Upon arriving in Brazil this year, I had the great pleasure of studying and teaching with our Reform Communities in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, with the unique opportunity to study with our future rabbis and leaders of the Ibero-American Institute for Reform Rabbinical Education.
That is, I had the honor and pleasure of experiencing the "Torah of Kindness" with you, our Reform Communities, under the leadership of Raul Gottlieb, Miriam Vasserman, Flávio Levi-Moreira and Karin Zingerevitz of UJR-AmLat, of rabbi Ruben Sternschein, Mario Fleck and Marcos Lederman from CIP-SP, of rabbi Uri Lam, Mika Feffer and Marlene Mangabeira from Beth El and of rabbi Sergio Margulies, Gilberto Lamm and Tamar Messer from ARI-RJ.
Faithful to the essence of the "Torah of Kindness," I have not only taught but also learned. By the comments and questions from the audience of several lectures given as well as chats in the corridors and dinners, I was immersed in this Latin American journey towards an ever stronger and more dynamic Reform Judaism.
The main lesson I'm going to carry with me back to the United States is this: In Latin America, the Reform Movement is experiencing a renaissance of focus and energy.
At the Institute’ Kinus, led by rabbi Damián Karo, I met a group of rabbinical students and professionals dedicated to the purpose of progressive and open communities, who dive deep in the study of the sources of our diverse and ancient tradition - from the most historic to the present perspective. This experience inspired and renewed my own work that is to prepare the next generation of leaders for North America.
Our partnership has become a unique source to me - a human understanding of the possibilities we have together to advance Progressive and Reform Judaism in the Western Hemisphere.
So I toast to the possibilities, and I can’t wait to put them into practice with you.