Created during the last EUPJ Conference in London in April 2016, the “European Union for Progressive Judaism Rabbinical Assembly” (abbreviated in “European Rabbinical Assembly”) held its first Kallah in March 2017 at Beth-Hillel, Brussels, at the invitation of Rabbi Marc Neiger, and at the European Parliament. Almost twenty Rabbis from all over Europe came to this meeting. Europe is understood in its large sense, from the Ural Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean. Rabbis from the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Russia gathered for two days of study and meeting. On Sunday the 26th, we were hosted by Beth-Hillel Brussels, and we had study sessions on various topics: Rabbi Reuven Bar-Ephraïm from Zürich led a session on eating animals, and how kosher it is. Rabbi Ira Goldberg from Brussels taught us a piece from Talmud (Berkahot 17a-b) on the quality of leaders. Robin Sclafani, Director of CEJI, introduced us to the Jewish institutions present in Brussels on a European level, and discussed with us Advocacy skills. Rabbi Deborah Kahn-Harris, Principal of the Leo Baeck College, London, introduced us to a new way of looking at Eicha, the book of Lamentations, through Art and Music. On the second day, we were invited by the European Parliament to meet officials from the European Commission and European MPs. Katharina von Scnurbein, European Commission’s Coordinator on combating anti-Semitism, introduced us to a programme called “Preventing & Combating Antisemitism” run by the Commission, as part of a larger European policy to combat all form of extremisms, defend minorities in Europe, and develop dialogue between faith and non-faith organisations. Three MEPs, who have interesting in the same field and in promoting better relationships and a better understanding of Israel came to talk to us: Frederique Ries from Belgium, and Cecilia Wikstrom from Sweden, Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar from Spain. In the morning, the ERA held its first AGM in the European Parliament. Our aim is to make a Progressive Rabbinic voice heard throughout Europe and to promote the diversity of Jewish voices. We will also hold regular Kallot, and we want to introduce a support system for European Rabbis. As for today, more than sixty Rabbis have joined the ERA, and membership grows by the day. The board elected by the AGM is as follows: Rabbi Reuven Bar Ephraïm, Chair, Rabbi Menno Ten Brink, Secretary, Rabbi Celia Surget, Treasurer, Rabbi Marc Neiger, and Rabbi René Pfertzel. Rabbi Charley Baginsky will be leading a response taskforce for press releases on current events. Our next Kallah will be held during the next EUPJ Conference in Prague (24-25 April 2018).
Rabbi René Pfertzel, on behalf of the ERA Board