Hundreds of Masorti/Conservative Jews from across Europe join Masorti Europe Regional Conference in London
June 25th, 2024

On May 31 – June 2, 2024, Masorti Europe, in collaboration with Masorti Judaism in the UK, hosted their first regional gathering since the pandemic, which brought together an international delegation of over 250 participants from 14 different countries. The participants, including community presidents, rabbis, cantors, youth directors, community directors, lay leaders, professionals and members of communities, came together for a weekend of shared learning on the theme of ‘A European Conversation,’ to explore perspectives on being Jewish in Europe today.

Masorti Europe joined with four incredible local communities - Kol Nefesh Masorti, New London Synagogue, New North London Synagogue and St. Albans Masorti Synagogue to host over 90 European, Israeli and North American guests for an engaging and meaningful Shabbat. Among them was Masorti Olami President, Margo Gold, who shared “Judaism first and foremost is about relationship, and the conference in London just underscored that. From being welcomed into London congregations over Shabbat, to gathering on Yom Masorti with participants from across Europe, this was an opportunity to learn together, pray together, be inspired by one another and to take pride in the diverse ways we are engaging with and supporting our Masorti communities”.

Masorti Olami President Margo Gold

The main day of the conference, which was built based on Masorti Judaism in the UK’s ‘Yom Masorti’ annual conference, was an opportunity for all participants to gather together for a full day of inspirational learning and creating connections. Together with amazing leaders, volunteers and professional teams, we created 19 different sessions, with over 25 different international speakers, including diverse topics addressing some of the challenges and triumphs of being Jewish in Europe today. Guests left the conference feeling empowered, motivated and accomplished. President of Masorti Europe, Wanda Teplitsky shared that “today, more than ever, this space was needed to feel the connection with our siblings from all over Europe and beyond, to be inspired, supported and comforted, to learn and work together for the future of the Jewish people. I'm sure the ties forged and reinforced during these days will be cherished and will bring many good things in coming times.

French delegation from 4 communities in France

Masorti Olami and Marom delegation from Israel

The conference provided an incredible offering of teaching with sessions ranging from panel discussions on topics that touched on the new frontiers in Halachah, tough questions about our Zionism and Israel, getting the most out of prayer, sustainability in a Masorti/Jewish context, a peer led conversation about the future of Rabbinic leadership, an in-depth examination on European Jewry today where Masorti Europe presented their initial community survey results, and so much more, all of which you can read about here.

Panel on Rabbinic Leadership with Rabbis Joel Levy, Cheryl Peretz, and Dr. Bradley Shavit Artson

Dr. Yizhar Hess, Vice Chair of the World Zionist Organization, led a powerful discussion on the exploration of identity and Zionism since October 7 and how we go about answering the tough questions within that space. There was also great engagement in a session focused on building a Masorti community of diverse origins, which included hearing about the establishment of our Masorti/Conservative communities in Budapest and Barcelona, and the powerful story from our Masorti Ukraine community, and their journey as refugees, many of whom are now living in Berlin and connected to the local Masorti community there.

WZO Vice Chair Dr. Yizhar Hess

During the event, a special tribute was also given to Rabbi Chaim Weiner, who retired from the role of Director of Masorti Europe at the end of 2023. A standing ovation was a fitting thank you for his twenty years in post and exemplary leadership.

Masorti and MERCAZ Olami Executive Director Rabbi Mauricio Balter

Rabbi Chaim Weiner being honored for his dedication and work as Masorti Europe Director, and receiving a gift from Masorti Olami and Masorti Europe

As the delegation gathered together to focus on the strength we have as a movement and as a Jewish People, the unimaginable reality of the hostages that are still being held captive in Gaza since October 7 remained strongly present throughout the day. To honor those missing, two empty chairs were placed on stage throughout the day and reaffirmed our commitment to seeing an end to this horror.  The participants used their strength, voices and power of prayer to come together and pray for the hostages’ immediate and safe return home. The closing plenary ended with Hatikva, Israel’s national anthem, literally meaning “Hope”, as we continue to hope and pray for an end to the suffering of all innocent people. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi at New North London Synagogue and Masorti Judaism in the UK shared this sentiment of hope when he said “we have two great strengths in these cruel, heart-rending times, Torah and community, each other and the values and practices which have sustained the Jewish People for tens of generations. Our Masorti Europe weekend brought us all of this in the warmest, most supportive and inspiring way”.

Prayer for hostages and Hatikva

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi at New North London Synagogue and Masorti Judaism in the UK

The evening closed with a performance of Heschel’s Passover Eve play, an original production commissioned by the World Zionist Organization, to share the inspiring life story of one of the most important Jewish thinkers of modern times, Rabbi Prof. Abraham Joshua Heschel, which left the participants inspired and encouraged to follow in his footsteps of promoting justice and action.

Thank you to all the partner organizations involved in making this conference a tremendous success, and for helping turn Masorti Europe’s vision into reality.

Part of the organizing team of the conference - Carmen McPherson, Wanda Teplitsky, Martha Limburg, and Tehila Reuben

Photos by Aviva Raichelson and Tehila Reuben

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Masorti Olami

We are Masorti Olami, the official International Movement of Masorti/Conservative Judaism, based in Jerusalem, Israel.


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