Social Action has been one of the core values of Progressive Judaism throughout
its history. Our responsibility for social action and social justice and our desire to heal
the world continue to lead us forward into the future.
Friday at CONNECTIONS 2015, you will have the opportunity to actually engage in hands-on projects and activities throughout Rio de Janeiro:
The Vigário Geral Favela
In the heart of the favela stands the Waly Solomon
cultural center, located in Proletário Park. This center was the cornerstone
operation of the Afro Reggae Cultural Group - an organization fighting for
social change and, through culture and art, offers skills, options and hope to
the residents of the favela.
Afroreggae works in poor, violent neighborhoods, often
controlled by drug traffickers. A
variety of social exclusion and deprivation can make children and young people
easy victims of crime.
to transform the harsh reality that these children and young people are
subjected to in the slums of the city - no rights, no opportunities and no
future. Its mission is to promote justice and inclusion, through art, the African-Brazilian
culture, and education, building bridges that unite the differences and are the
foundations for sustainability and citizenship.
Opening its doors in May 2010, the center has successfully
offered four years of intensive and various activities geared towards the
artistic, cultural, and educational background of the residents of Vigário Geral
and the surrounding communities.
In this visit to an area not pacified by the local
authorities and not deemed worthy of enough state attention, we will experience
a cutting-edge community center that offers, first and foremost, social
cohesion and attention to the people. Through professional social work and
using the vast array of empowering activities in this state-of-the-art complex,
it opens doors to a better future.
We will visit the center, meet the residents of the
favela, experience first-hand some of the wonderful and inspiring musical work
performed daily, learn about outreach and inspiration, as well as teach and
impart some of our own values and skills in joint workshops. We will assist in
building up the children’s library by bringing with us books and educational
tools. Most of all, we will see and
experience tikun olam in action like never before.
Colégio Israelita Brasileiro A.
Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Liessin is the
largest Jewish school in Brazil, with more than 1,400 students.
Liessin is an autonomous, pluralistic Jewish school offering
comprehensive education, from kindergarten to high school. It offers a quality education, which aims at
the integral formation of its students, based on Jewish values.
Liessin’s initial mission, which holds true today, is to
offer a pluralistic Jewish education, respecting the different streams of
Jewish thought. Their mandate was and
still is concerned with building a generation whose Jewish identity reflects a
deep bond of continuity with the values and traditions. It is an institution that directs all energies
to the future, one that constantly renews its commitment to the past, with the
Jewish people, with the state of Israel and its language. In this sense, “our work as a school is to teach
and transmit the customs, values and traditions.”
The school considers Israel as the center of Jewish life,
recognizing the vital importance of its existence and the Hebrew language as an
expression of our people and our culture.
Liessin is a pioneer in many educational, communal, and
outreach programs, with a Jewish studies curriculum that encompasses many of
the challenges we face in Jewish schools around the world. Even the choice of school uniforms and the
use of facilities is geared to challenge, educate, and inspire the students.
It is active in many tikun olam projects, including
working with the favela in its vicinity, resource development for the
handicapped, a special emphasis on ecology and environmental values and more.
One such unique program is an interfaith project operated
in conjunction with the Catholic High school next to it. In this site visit, we
will meet the students from both schools participating in this project and
learn with them how it impacts their values and lives, as well as identify many
lessons we can take back with us to our schools, communities, and synagogues.
Eliezer Max School
Escola Israelita Bras Eliezer Steinbarg Max Nordau
Under the philosophy and need for a modern, humanist,
non-religious Jewish school committed to educational innovation, Eliezer Max
Jewish School was founded in June 1954.
The philosophy of education and teaching in the school is
based on three basic principles: the formation of the person, the training of
students, and the formation of the citizen.
The school lives pluralistic Judaism, where the fusion of
different forms of interpretation produces a knowledge that leads to
self-growth and refinement, and the unique experience of being Jewish as a
whole, as a social and moral being.
It is a place for building ethical meanings, where topics
such as human dignity, equality of rights, denial of forms of discrimination,
and solidarity are discussed and emphasized.
The school is at the forefront of many educational
initiatives and takes special pride in its students and the innovative teaching
methods applied. One such innovation is
a new classroom where all walls and surroundings have been transformed into
opportunities of expression, imbuing the students with new avenues of learning
In this site visit, we will meet and learn from students
and faculty in this innovative surrounding, as well as learn about the school’s
pioneering tikun olam activities in its engagement with its immediate
surrounding and the community at large.
Cemitério Israelita de Inhauma
This is the story of human trafficking, of shattered dreams, abuse and deprivation, which inspired a birth of communal Jewish services and lessons on inclusion—a unique chapter in the history of Jewish and general Rio!
White Jewish slaves, known as "the polish women," were transported to the Americas by pimps ("kaftans") in the late 19th century. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, these women created a mutual aid society, a synagogue, and a Jewish cemetery, Cementerio Israelita de Inhauma, thus maintaining a link to Judaism despite their way of life.The young women, very poor and usually with no future, arrived from Poland, Austria, and Russia.
Women were trafficked through an organization known as Zvi Migdal. They were told that the clientele might be "treif" but the money would be "kosher". Many were young women who were enticed into prostitution with the false promises of marriage when, in reality, they were forced into prostitution.
Because they were not permitted to be buried in existing Jewish cemeteries, the prostitutes raised money to purchase land and to construct what was to become a well-known cemetery, Inhauma.Eventually, they built their own synagogue on Calle Afonso Cavaicanti in Rio and in 1906 they created a mutual aid society (Benevolent, Funeral and Jewish Religious Association). The Jewish prostitutes formed the first Chevra Kadisha, which was the first Jewish society in Rio.On this trip we will visit this special cemetery and expose ourselves to a unique chapter in history, using it to discuss modern day parallels and efforts on social issues on communal and global levels.