Argentinian lawmaker-rabbi resigns from Rabbinical Assembly


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The first rabbi to be elected a congressman in Latin America announced his resignation from the Rabbinical Assembly.

Sergio Bergman made the announcement Saturday at the World Union of Progressive Judaism gathering in Buenos Aires, a day before the end of the event. 

At the opening ceremony, Bergman said he tried for more than 20 years to have the Reform and Conservative movements work together. 

"Today I am resigning from the Assembly, I am finishing my effort," Bergman said, adding that the movements needed to recognize their failures.

Bergman has rabbinical ordination from the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly and the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis.

In his address, which ended with the surprising announcement about leaving the RA, Bergman spoke of the challenges of working together despite the movement’s different approaches, as well as the need for vision and leadership.

“Some rabbis want to look to one side to look at the Orthodox, another looks to the other side to look at the Reform," the president of the Latin American Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Marcelo Polakoff, said at the WUPJ opening ceremony. "I think is time to look together to the real challenge, to the real problem, to look far away to all the Jewish unaffiliated and those outside of institutions; it is time to work closer."

Bergman, the senior rabbi of Congregacion Israelita Argentina, handily won a seat on the Buenos Aires municipal legislature in July 2011.

Asked by JTA if he would continue as a rabbi, Bergman said “yes, I will continue as a ‘polydox’ rabbi.”  

More than 300 people are participating in the fourth Latin American meeting of the WUPJ, which is being hosted by Argentina’s Mishkan Jewish Spirituality Center, an umbrella group of 1,200 Progressive, Liberal and Reconstructionist congregations in 45 countries representing 1.8 million people.

“This meeting is a safeguard of the continuity of the Jewish people in the region,” Miriam Vasserman, president of WUPJ Latin America and leader of the Israelite Paulista Congregation in Sao Paulo, Brazil, said at the opening plenary, which was titled “The Evolving Role Of The Rabbi In Jewish Tradition.”

Judaica Foundation, NCI-Emanuel World Masorti congregation, Libertad Temple and the Association Israelite of the Pampas helped to organize the meeting.

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