The 24th General Assembly of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany (UpJ) opened in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, on May 30. For the first time ever 350 delegates from 26 Jewish communities spend the weekend in a European partner country to network with Czech Jewry and celebrate the upcoming induction of David Maxa as a rabbi for Czechia. Maxa currently studies at the Abraham Geiger College in Berlin and will move to Karlovy Vary after his ordination in 2020.
Our rector Rabbi Walter Homolka, Union chairman, pointed out: “We have the biggest crowd ever at a Union conference. Karlovy Vary proves a magnet for our congregants. We enjoy the exchange among neighbors and celebrate that Judaism is firmly back in the heart of Europe.”
Dr. Michael Hron of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the Czech Republic highlighted the importance of the get together from a European perspective. Professor Barbara Traub brought the good wishes of the Central Council of Jews in Germany and underlined the importance of Jewish pluralism in solidarity. At the opening Pavel Rubin, chairman of the Jewish community of Karlovy Vary, was honored for his achievements in reviving Jewish life in a city which once was an important focal point of European Jewry.
Arzenu President Rabbi Lea Mühlstein (London) delivered the keynote speech, “From 1921 until Today: The Wrangling for Religious Plurality in the Jewish State.” Among the many guests of honor was our College’s Senator Rabbi Andrew Goldstein who represented the European Union for Progressive Judaism. The opening took place at the grand Orpheum Hall, the historic site of the Zionist Congresses of 1921 and 1923, with more than thirty students, staff and faculty members of Abraham Geiger College participating. For the next three days, the conference offered fascinating speakers, hands-on workshops, moving services and time to reconnect with colleagues and friends from all over Germany and from Czech Republic.