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Asia Progressive Judaism Summit January 2019

The Asia Progressive Judaism summit will be held in Singapore from 24-27 January 2019:

Thursday 24th January 2019


7.30-8.30am                 UHC Shacharit

The UHC is the only non-Orthodox community in Asia with a weekly Thursday minyan. Come join our early-morning regulars in the UHC Office for a swift Shacharit and Torah reading.

9am-12pm          Jewish Tour of Singapore (with prior registration)

A professional tour guide will take the group around the former Singapore “mellah”. The visit will include trips to the two Baghdadi-style Synagogues and historic Jewish locations.


9am-2pm            Asian Beit Din (Rabbis Only)

The Asian Beit Din meets once or twice a year to examine conversion candidates and discuss religious matters in our region.

*** 2-7pm - FREE TIME ***

7-8.30pm            APJ Summit Opening Ceremony

The official opening of the APJ Summit, at a historic location,  will include speeches by Frank Lavin (former US Ambassador to Singapore), Simona Halperin (Israeli Ambassador to Singapore) and Carole Sterling (Chair of the World Union for Progressive Judaism), as well as music and light refreshments.  

Friday 25th January 2019

9.15-9.30am                 Introduction       

A welcome and brief introduction to the day’s proceedings will be given by Stefanie Green, APJ Summit 2019 Organizing Committee Chair.

9.30am-10.30am         Panel One: The History of Asia Progressive Judaism

The first Progressive Community in Asia was the Jewish Religious Union in Mumbai, India, established in 1925. Since then several others have followed, including in Tokyo (1953), Beijing (1979), Hong Kong (1988) and Singapore (1993). This session will look at some of the stories and personalities involved in the history of these communities, and the challenges involved in their establishment.

Panellists:                   Rabbi Stanton Zamek (UJC, Hong Kong - Chair), Rabbi Lenny Thal (Rabbi Emeritus, UHC Singapore) Richard Kazn Young (Mumbai, India), Philip Rosenfeld (JCJ, Tokyo), Leon Fenster (Kehillat Beijing) & Dr. Joshua Greene (SMU, Singapore)

10.30am-10.45am       Tea/Coffee

10.45am-11.45am       Panel Two: Returning to Judaism

Jewish life in Asia is not only about ex-pat communities! In both China and Indonesia we are witnessing the revival of Jewish life in our times as families and individuals with Jewish roots are making their way back to our faith. This session will hear from some of the leaders of these communities and those who are involved with guiding them and studying this global – and regional - phenomenon.

Panellists:                   Rabbi David Kunin (JCJ, Tokyo - Chair), Rabbi Benjamin Meijer (United Indonesian Jewish Community), Rabbi Anson Laytner (Sino-Judaic Institute), David Li Wei (Kaifeng, China), Rabbi Professor Seth Kunin (Curtin University, Perth)

11.45pm-1.15pm         Lunch & Learn

Grab your lunch and enjoy one or two of the following parallel shorter sessions:

12-12.30pm                  Politics: The Future of Jewish Life in Asia

                            Dr. James M. Dorsey (RSIS, Singapore)

12-12.30pm                  Young Adults: Initiatives in Asia & Beyond

                            Ayal Ben Or (UJC, Hong Kong) & Rabbi Jordan Helfman (WUPJ)

12-12.30pm                  Youth: Jewish Summer Camp Opportunities for Asian Kids

                            Jonathan Gerstl (Camps Airy & Louise)

12.30-1pm          Liturgy: The New UPJ Machzor

                            Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black (Leo Baeck Centre, Melbourne)

12.30-1pm          Medical Ethics: End of Life Issues

                            Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen (Av Beit Din, Masorti Australia)

12.30-1pm          Reform Movement Israel Programmes for Youth and Young Adults  

Andrew Keene (WUPJ)

1.15-2.15pm                 Panel Three: I’m Jewish & I’m Asian

Many of our communities in Asia have demographics that are unique to our region, and as our movement grows in strength there will be more and more people with both Jewish and Asian identity of various kinds. This panel will hear some of these stories and address the joys and challenges that come from this dual identity.

Panellists:                   Rabbi Martha Bergadine (UJC, Hong Kong - Chair), Charlotte Leong (UJC, Hong Kong), Sammy Samuels (Jewish Community of Myanmar), Souks Soukhaseum (Flushing Synagogue, Queens, NY), Rabbi Ruth Abusch-Magder (Jewish &), Professor Josh Keller (NTU, Singapore)

2.30-3.30pm                 Panel Four: Building Jewish Life in Asia

The last decade has seen the founding of new progressive communities and groups across Asia, each with their own circumstances. This panel will share some of the stories from their communities, and consider what needs to be done in order to transform these nascent and pioneering groups into budding and fully-fledged communities.

Panellists:                   Rabbi Nathan Alfred (UHC Singapore - Chair), Barry Satz (TPJC, Bangkok), Liat Solomon (Kehilat Bnei Hof, Bali), Anna Yun (Hakehillah, Seoul), Ben Barth (Kehilat Shanghai), Professor Gabi Szulanszki (INSEAD, Singapore)

3.30-4pm            APJ AGM

We will consider whether to consolidate the APJ as a formal body and what our next steps will be, including dates and a venue for the next APJ Summit in 2020.

*** 4-7pm - FREE TIME ***


6.30pm-7pm                Tots Shabbat

A musical Tots Shabbat will be led by Rabbi Jordan Helfman (Holy Blossom, Toronto). Perfect for kids under the age of ten.

7-8pm                           Kabbalat Shabbat

We will commence our Shabbat with the UHC Community with a joyous and musical service, accompanied by local and regional singers and musicians.

8-9pm                           Shabbat Dinner

9-10pm               Musical Oneg Shabbat

Enjoy a post-prandial pot pourri of music and song led by Vered Harel (Etz Chayim, Melbourne), with contributions by Dan Kohane (Kehilat B’nei Hof, Bali, Indonesia), Richard Kazn Young (Mumbai, India) and others.

Saturday 26th January

9.30-12pm          Shabbat Morning Service & Kiddush

Our Shabbat Morning Service will be held in traditional UHC style in the home of Harvey and Rosita Goldstein. A sumptuous kiddish, lovingly prepared by Rosita, will follow the service. Throughout the APJ Summit you will have the opportunity to purchase a signed copy of Rosita’s 2018 publication, My Secret Recipes, as featured locally and on

2-4pm                           Shabbat Torah Study in the Singapore Botanic Gardens

Taught by: Rabbi Jonathan Keren-Black Rabbi Adi Cohen, Rabbi Jeffrey Cohen, Rabbi Jordan Helfman, Rabbi Professor Seth Kunin, Rabbi Rachel Safman

The Torah is said to have seventy faces and our job is to uncover as many of them as possible. Amid the beautiful ambience of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, take the opportunity to enjoy different interpretations provided by some of the remarkable crew of global rabbis visiting Asia for the APJ Summit. The participants will be divided into small groups for an optimal study experience.

*** 4-7pm - FREE TIME ***

7pm-1am            Havdalah & UHC 25th Anniversary Gala

                            Dress Code: Eveningwear (Suits/Dresses)

The APJ Summit will join UHC members and alumni to celebrate twenty-five years of Progressive Judaism in Singapore! Our Guest of Honour is UHC Rabbi Emeritus Lenny Thal, who will give the after-dinner speech. Proceedings will begin with a musical Havdalah, and the (adults only) night will include an auction and a late-night dancefloor.

Sunday 27th January

9.30am-5pm                Southeast Asia Top Leaders seminar (separate registration)

This program is for lay and professional leaders of Jewish communities and institutions from across the region. This seminar focuses primarily on strategic conversations about Jewish communities and the challenges for the future, while providing an opportunity for a mutual exchange of ideas between leaders.


9.45-10.30am               Jewish Summer: Camps Airy and Louise

Jonathan Gerstl will be delighted to speak to you about the opportunities for Asian kids from our communities to join Camps Airy and Louise, that are run under his direction. This session will be open to UHC parents and take place alongside the UHC’s Religious School.  

10.30-12pm                  APJ Summit Closing Brunch

The Summit concludes with a brunch featuring Singapore’s finest bagels and lox, sponsored byt Camps Airy and Louise. A chance to say your goodbyes whilst meeting parents and children from the UHC’s Religious School.

Presenters: The list of confirmed presenters will be updated periodically. 

Registration fee: $250 USD (includes lunch/dinner on Friday and Saturday, conference sessions and Sunday brunch, does not include flights or accommodation) 

+ $50 SGD for the Singapore Jewish Tour

+ $50 SGD for the SouthEast Asia Top Leaders Training Seminar (separate registration)

Recommended hotels - Yotel Singapore (Orchard Road)

Home hospitality - Sorry but registration has closed for home hospitality.

Registration form (Deadline 10th December 2018)


Questions? Please contact



Sat, 18 May 2024 10 Iyar 5784