Marom AMLAT representatives seminar

Masorti Amlat Seminar – Santiago de Chile 2009

Last week I had the honor of attending the second Latin American Seminar as the delegate from Uruguay.  There were two representatives from Sao Paulo, Brazil, and one from Rio de Janeiro, four from Santiago de Chile and one from Uruguay.

During three days there were many activities programmed, which turned the seminar into an unforgettable experience.  These are some of the things I’ll never forget:

Nearby Realities…
Though many subjects were discussed, the most interesting for me was the beginning presentation of each country.  Each of them enriched the whole group.  I was surprised at how similar the realities of the Latin American Jewish communities were.  I felt as if they were talking about my own community.  I understood that it wasn’t by chance that we were together at the Seminar.

Feeling at home…
Of the many activities we took part in, one marked me especially.  This was the Kabalat Shabat of one of the masorti/conservative kehillot in Santiago, known as the “Círculo.”  Once a month they have a parallel service called “Shabbat Young” (the name is in English, but ungrammatical unfortunately!) in which young people between the ages of 16 and 25 approximately, participate.  Luckily, we could take part in both services.  Each one had its particular mystique, while there were more “mitpalelim” at the adult one and it had musical accompaniment, the “young service” led by a young rabbi, Rav Marcelo Kormis, was both very intimate and very interactive.  There were lots of questions and answers about the Parashat HaShavua.  It taught how important it is to adapt spaces to different interests.  After the services were over the older adults and the young people had a Kidush together.  Though I was quite far from my kehillah I felt very much at home in this sister synagogue.

The Masorti/Conservative Movement: a bond that is built day by day…
One of the most important things I learned is that the work each kehillah does strengthen the great network of the masorti/conservative movement in Latin America, which we are part of.  We worked in teams, learning from each other and discussing how to consolidate the young people’s network.  I realized that no matter what country the kehillah belongs to, how large or small it is, how near or far the batei kneset from the people we all speak the same language and have the same shared objective: to experience Judaism from a masorti/conservative viewpoint, respecting and knowing other forms, just as valid, of leading a Jewish life.

An injection of motivation…
We worked on the concept of motivation through the use of lots of different techniques we came to an agreement: every task you undertake has to have content   People lose motivation when things are done routinely; you have to try to find new meanings to i.e. the Amida, the parshiot, etc.

The key word is conviction…
Personally, I would like to say, that the seminar left a mark on me.  I will always remember “yes you can.”  I feel proud of the Nueva Congregación Israelita (NCI), my kehillah because we are a proof of this.  We have built a Bayit Hadash, and have a young Rabbi who is ready to work very closely with young people.

By Nicolás Formager