WUPJ’s first South American president calls on Jews to ‘fix our world and do it better’
JERUSALEM – Rabbi Sergio Bergman – an Argentinian social activist, civil servant and leader of the Jewish community – has been appointed president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) this week, become the first-ever leader of the global movement in South America and immediately advance bold initiatives to generate impact and change.
“It is an honor and a privilege for me to take the chair of the global progressive reform movement,” Rabbi Bergman told a global audience online attending the WUPJ Connections 21 conference. “We are a global extended family, faithfully serving common Jewish values.
“The World Union translates the sacred values of our prophets of Israel and our sacred text in a new context that addresses and faces new challenges. As we walk into the first 100 years of WUPJ, together we build unity and diversity – the strength of the Jewish people – and realize our shared vision to fix our world and do it better.
As the new president of WUPJ, Rabbi Bergman will lead the international network of reformed, liberal, progressive and reconstructive Jewish movements, serving 1.2 million members worldwide in more than 1,250 congregations in more than 50 countries.
Rabbi Bergman used his facility to name four initial priorities for WUPJ: The Jewish Effective Giving Initiative, equip rabbis with tools to advance support for life-saving charities working in developing countries, and grow young Jewish activists engaged in tikkun olam, repairing the world … Hebrew 2030, using educational platforms to promote the study and use of Hebrew and develop connections with Israel… Values education, strengthening educational programming and WUPJ partnerships to reach young Jews and bring them into the progressive movement… and Israeli by choice, strengthening the connection and bonds of the global Jewish community with Israel through citizenship.
“We will be launching an incubator for projects that seek high social impact in the Jewish world,” said Rabbi Bergman. “We will learn from existing incubators and accelerators and create our own. Some of these projects are likely to be developed and others may not be fully realized. But what is important is that we create a mechanism for sincere exploration of new ideas. “
The son of Polish Holocaust survivors who took refuge in Argentina, Rabbi Bergman was ordained at the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires and the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem. He is a member of the clergy at Templo Libertad, the oldest and largest synagogue in Buenos Aires, founded in 1862 and based on the principles of progressive Judaism and known worldwide as a space where choice, debate and interpretation are at the center.
In 2011, he became the first rabbi ever elected to public office in Argentina, as representative of the city of Buenos Aires. In 2013 he was elected to represent the city in the Argentine Congress, and in 2015 President Mauricio Macri appointed him Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, a post that gave him a platform to move forward the fight against climate change – an issue for which he is known, alongside human rights and social justice causes in Argentina and around the world.
Carole Sterling, chair of the WUPJ board, said Rabbi Bergman’s dedication to the ideals and promise of progressive Judaism – and his passion for community building and advancing progressive Jewish values - will strengthen the WUPJ network and its local and global impact.
“It is very significant that Rabbi Bergman is the first president of WUPJ from South America, a continent with a Jewish community that is a model of progressive Jewish values and practices due in large part to his vision and impact. . By raising its voice, WUPJ recognizes that the strengths and ideas that come from every part of its global network are invaluable to all of progressive Judaism.
World Union for Progressive Judaism
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