Representatives from all over the continent, Europe, Israel, and North America gathered in Buenos Aires this past August to formulize strategy, ideology and goals for the Masorti movement throughout Latin America. The Atid (Future) conference was held at the Seminario Rabinico Latinamerico Marshall T. Meyer. Clive Lawton, co-chair of Masorti UK, shared what many felt: “I didn’t even know all of this existed.” He was blown away by the energy and passion he found in Latin America and vowed to build cooperative projects in the future between Masorti in Latin America and the UK.
A joint effort of Masorti Olami, Mercaz Olami, the International Rabbinical Assembly, and Masorti organizations in Latin America (Masorti Amlat, Latin American Rabbinical Assembly, Seminario, and NOAM and MAROM Amlat), Atid began with a Shabbaton for hundreds of representatives from NOAM and MAROM youth and young adult groups, the first such meeting of the NO AM chapters in Latin America. After enjoying a Shabbat filled with ruach, friendship and learning, the young people joined the adults. In seminars and discussions, they spoke about Jewish leadership and changes in halachah, and the importance of study in youth activities. The young representatives and their counselors brainstormed about what had brought them together and where it would take them in the future.
The discussions were lively, the learning serious. There was a shared sense of purpose in visualizing the future of Masorti Judaism in Latin America and around the world. Sunday morning services included a study session on a passage of Talmud about how to help those who live in poverty that segued into a discussion of the intense poverty found in Latin America and other parts of the world.
A newly ordained rabbi, Judith Nowominski, spoke about the challenge of bringing God into every aspect of our lives, especially our religious lives. She spoke about encouraging women to take active religious roles in the movement and creating more egalitarian settings so that women are also a true part of Klal Yisrael.
The general consensus was the need for greater and better education for all ages. One of the main proposals was the creation of educational materials for congregations in Latin America that would focus on the where, what, why and how of Masorti Judaism to help build a stronger identification with the movement and its principles.
Peter Miller, a Masorti Olami lay leader, said that the conference just proved to him why he is involved: “The commitment and dedication of the Masorti Jews in Latin America inspires all of us to invest in and build the future of Masorti/Conservative Jews around the entire globe.”