Rabbi Sa’ar Shaked organised a leadership seminar at an eco village in Rustenburg last week, including delegates from our sister synagogues, to talk about what it means to be a Progressive Jew. Most of the participants have been active members of our community for many years, and were open to debate difficult issues. The theme of the weekend was inspired in part by an incident described in the parsha of the week, in which Nachshon, a prince of the tribe of Judah, is the first of the slaves who are fleeing Egypt to step bravely into the waters, causing God to part them.
Sofi Zway from Cape Town, a former Netzer leader, described the weekend as one of heated debates, but all in a good spirit. “Although each of us has had a profoundly different journey, it was remarkable to hear how we each ultimately found our home within Progressive Judaism. It was inspiring to hear people’s stories and visions for the future of Progressive Judaism in this country. I cried, because it reminded me of the profound effect (Progressive) Judaism has had on my life – and so many others – and why I love Judaism so much.”
She added: As Progressive Jews, we need to be more like Nachshon. We need a generation of bold and brave leaders who are not afraid to step forward; who are not afraid to challenge and provoke what it means to be Jewish, and what it means to be a Progressive Jew … Fortunately, this past weekend has shown me that out movement is lucky to possess such a group of passionate, bold and brave Nachshon(a)s who are ready and eager to step forward into the unknown and declare, ‘Hineinu. Here we are.’