Reform Rabbinical Council of Brazil (CRRB) has new leadership under the regency of Rabbi Uri Lam
The Reform Rabbinical Council of Brazil, founded in 2020, is the entity that brings together rabbis affiliated with the reform movement in Brazil. The Council aims to guide the Brazilian reform movement in religious matters, developing a fairer and more loving look towards individuals, creating paths that guide towards merit, the fulfillment of mitzvot and the construction of increasingly inclusive and welcoming communities, in addition to preparing the ground for the next generation of reform rabbis in Brazil.
Since the date of its founding, the Council has had the honor of being chaired by Rabbi Sérgio Margulies, spiritual leader of Associação Religiosa Israelita (ARI) in Rio de Janeiro, and by Rabbi Uri Lam of Congregation Beth El in São Paulo as vice-president. As of this year, 2023, Rabbi Uri Lam takes over the presidency of the Council, with Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski of the Sociedade Israelita Brasileira de Cultura e Beneficência (SIBRA) in Porto Alegre as vice-president.
The Union of Reform Judaism in Latin America (UJR-AmLat) thanks Rabbi Sérgio Margulies for his mandate governed with seriousness, dignity and congratulates Rabbi Uri Lam for accepting to lead a new cycle in CRRB. We wish success and a cycle of many achievements for the reform movement in Brazil. Todah Rabbah and BeHatzlacha!
Below are some words written by the two leaders from their perspectives on the last mandate and their wishes for the next one.
New stage at CRRB – Rabbi Sérgio Margulies
It has been a great honor to participate in the Reform Rabbinic Council of Brazil (CRRB), of which I was its first president since its foundation in 2020.
The exchange between colleagues is a precious source that feeds each rabbi so that we can more effectively carry out tasks for the benefit of our communities and congregations.
Discreetly and, at the same time, intensely, the decisions of the CRRB – in tune with the principles that guide Reform Judaism – reverberate in our dynamic community life. This effort is the result of the commitment of all colleagues who intend to strengthen the bonds that unite us in full confidence.
Within the growth of the reform movement in our country, supported by the relevant performance of the Union of Reform Judaism of Latin America (UJR), new rabbis gradually join the CRRB, which from now on will be chaired by Rabbi Uri Lam ( Beth El – São Paulo), until then vice-president with zealous dedication so that the intention of all efforts could be consolidated. As vice-president, Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski (Sibra – Porto Alegre) takes over, valuing the integration of the national dimension of CRRB and Reform Judaism. It’s important that through the CRRB we will continue to have more tools in order to better serve our communities and seek the vitality of Jewish values.
Shevat – 5783
February – 2023
To Thank, To Renew and To Connect
Rabbi Uri Lam, Adar 5783
The foundation of the Reform Rabbinic Council of Brazil, in 2020, was an important step for the reform. progressive and liberal communities in Brazil. The Council had been thought about and desired for years.
The pandemic, with its challenges, emphasized the need for this space for meetings, debates and deliberations between rabbis working in Brazil. Long-distance communication took a leap forward, allowing colleagues from all over Brazil to meet regularly. It was when the first group of rabbis met to create the Reform Rabbinic Council of Brazil.
In the minutes of 08/27/2020 (Elul 7, 5780), it was defined that the CRRB would have a president and a vice president for a two-year mandate. President and vice-president coordinate, represent and/or delegate the representation of the Board to other institutions. Every two years the management is renewed: the vice-president takes over as president and appoints the vice-president.
The tenure would symbolically begin on Rosh Hashanah, 1st of Tishre 5781 (09/18-19/2020). In practice, it started on the 22/09/2020. The founding members chose Rabbi Sergio Margulies as president; I was chosen as vice president.
The choice of Rabbi Margulies as the first president was successful and proved to be very successful from September 2020 to December 2022. In the words of my colleague and friend Sérgio: “In a discreet and, at the same time, intense way, the decisions of the CRRB – in tune with the principles that guide Reform Judaism – reverberate in our dynamic community life. This effort is the result of the commitment of all colleagues who intend to strengthen the bonds that unite us in full trust.”
This was the characteristic of Rabbi Margulies’ presidency: discreet, conciliatory and balanced; and at the same time focused, intense and rabbinically well grounded.
The time has passed. We have overcome the worst times of the pandemic, dealt with more pressing issues and entered into a continuous process of improving processes that need rabbinic guidance. The exchange of experiences, the establishment of clear rules with regard to guiur processes – conversion to Judaism – with the aim of welcoming new members of the Jewish people with responsibility; the production of liberal/reform Jewish material, always attentive to new media and formats; and day-to-day issues were the focus of the CRRB throughout these first years of existence.
Over these two years, Sérgio led us based on his extensive community and rabbinical experience, mixed with good humor, measured words and care for others. Among the many I would have to say, I summarize it in an expression: thank you. Modê ani, I thank you, Sérgio, for your generosity, partnership, transmission of experience, patience and friendship.
In harmony with Jewish rhythms, which intersperse a long period of creative production with a brief and precious period of rest, in 2022 we enter a new stage. Back to my predecessor’s inspiring words: “The exchange between colleagues is a precious resource that feeds every rabbi and rabbi so that we can more effectively carry out the tasks on behalf of our communities and congregations.”
The orientation I assume for the presidency of the CRRB (2023-24 term) is that we can carry out tasks in favor of our communities and congregations more effectively. I invited Rabbi Guershon Kwasniewski, from Porto Alegre/RS, to be the vice-president. One of the goals of having rabbis from different regions in the presidency and vice-presidency is to preserve multiple views on the Brazilian Jewish community. The strengthening of the CRRB should, in my view, be both a cause and a consequence of the growth and strengthening of the reform movement throughout Brazil.
It is up to the CRRB:
– guide the maintenance and renewal of Jewish practices in our communities, anchored in the Jewish tradition that develops progressively, from antiquity to the present day.
– maintain and encourage the connection between fellow rabbis; and among reform, progressive and liberal communities in Brazil, offering support to those without a local reform rabbi.
– welcome rabbis with reform training and/or orientation who are active in Brazil.
– maintain an ongoing connection and dialogue with the UJR-Amlat; with the Reform Rabbinic Institute and other Brazilian Jewish institutions.
I close with the words of Rabbi Sérgio Margulies: “Through the CRRB we will continue to have more tools in order to better serve our communities and seek the vitality of Jewish values.”
Inspired by the beginning of the month of Adar, bessimcha marbim! May it be a time filled with joy and meaning in favor of the people of Israel.
Adar 5783, March 2023