2 Dec 2011
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition
Progressives to embrace far-flung Jewish Victorians
PJV will extend a hand to the GLBT community.
VICTORIA’S Progressive Jews will further broaden their scope to welcome those who feel detached from the Jewish community.
At the annual meeting of Progressive Judaism Victoria (PJV) on Monday, president Philip Bliss outlined a threepoint outreach program to be rolled out in the next year.
An outreach committee is being formed to extend a Progressive Jewish voice to fringe areas of Melbourne and to regional Victoria, with plans to raise awareness of PJV in Melbourne’s outer suburbs and in the Geelong area, as well as enhancing Kehillat Sdot Zahav, the nascent central Victorian Goldfields congregation.
PJV will also extend a hand to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community and will run educational workshops for rabbis and volunteers on the most effective ways to build bridges with it.
PJV will establish a presence on Victorian university campuses to provide an alternative Jewish resource to Chabad.
Reflecting on PJV’S first year of operation since it was reconstituted from the old Victorian Union for Progressive Judaism, Dr Bliss stated: “Next year will be most exciting in terms of getting on with our projects.”
At its annual meeting, at the King David School, the Progressive roof body welcomed Lior Argaman, the new PJV shlicha who arrived from Israel with husband Didi and son Adam. Argaman was previously based in Jerusalem where she directed the shnat program of Netzer Olami, the international Progressive youth movement for three years.
Special guest was recently retired Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president John Searle, who is the new chair of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC).
He outlined the highlights of his JCCV presidency, emphasising his aim of “bringing in Jews who are outside the tent”, and spoke about the JCCV’S work with Jews formerly from India.
Developing guidelines for constructive interfaith relations, and combating racism and anti-semitism, specifically the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions movement, were also priorities of his JCCV presidency, he said.
During that time he forged new links with police, the Victorian Multicultural Commission, state ministers, and VEOHRC.
Searle said one of his aims as VEOHRC chair will be to find increased communal support for refugee children.