About RJ.org & Submission Guidelines
RJ.org, The Reform Movement Blog
The Reform Judaism blog, RJ.org, is the place to get the News and Views of Reform Jews from around North America and the world. Filled with facts and opinions, action items, regular posts from Movement leaders and interesting tidbits from the greater Jewish world, this site is the platform where Reform Jews come together to chat, opine, kibbitz and learn in an online community.
RJ.org is operated for the Reform Movement and its institutions by the Union for Reform Judaism, under policy guidelines established by the blog’s editorial board, a volunteer body appointed by the Chairman of the Board of the URJ. The URJ is not responsible for the accuracy of the content of anything posted here other than posts signed by members of the URJ staff in their official, professional capacities.
RJ.org accepts unsolicited submissions for consideration. Pieces that follow the formatting and style listed below are most likely to be published on the site, so please take time to read through these guidelines. Send submissions, along with biographical information (including any affiliation with a Reform congregation or institution) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Readers of RJ.org are a diverse mix of people, though they are largely Reform, Conservative, and secular Jews living in North America and Israel. The primary audience is synagogue leadership, both professional and volunteer. They come from many different backgrounds and have taken varying paths to Judaism.
When writing for this site, please bear in mind that the readers of RJ.org are as diverse as the members of the Reform Movement. We welcome a variety of viewpoints on Jewish life and living, but we encourage you to be cognizant and respectful of the fact that many of our readers will have differing viewpoints based on their own experiences and worldviews.
Posts are optimally 300-800 words in length. Telling a story in fewer words that pack a compelling and powerful punch is always more successful in the online space than lengthy, wordy efforts.
Several types of posts are generally acceptable for the blog:
- First-person perspectives or personal essays on matters of Reform Jewish interest
- How-to pieces (e.g. how to create a successful congregational budget)
- Blessings, prayers, or poems
- Divrei Torah or other commentary on Jewish texts
- Sermons or speeches
- Commentary on articles, videos or podcasts of Reform Jewish interest
- Remembrances, whether personal memoirs or memorial tributes to those who have recently passed, or of long-gone figures of interest
A good blog post often includes a call to action, e.g. the end of a post lists ideas, poses a question, or asks users to post their own thoughts.
- Do not use underlines or all caps for any reason.
- Linking is preferred to footnoting.
- Avoid use of the words “click here” or “here” when linking to a referenced item. Instead, link to a relevant part of the sentence.
- Wherever possible, link to cited sources and any material that is referred to, especially material that exists on any Reform Movement website.
- Italicize transliterated Hebrew or other languages and include a translation of such words and phrases upon first mention.
- Indent paragraphs of quoted material.
All posts that appear on RJ.org and its affiliate blogs are edited for grammar, punctuation, style, and editorial flow. We occasionally will return a submission to its author to suggest changes, omissions, and/or additions that our editing team deems necessary to strengthen the post such that it may become appropriate for publishing on our blog(s).
Title and Bio
All submissions must include a suggested title, subject to modification by blog editors. A compelling title that is descriptive of the content of the post will garner more readers. Additionally, all posts should be signed using the author’s real name. A one- or two-line bio should be supplied with the author’s title, position, or affiliation, if pertinent.
Reproducing copyrighted material is not permitted. Photos may only be used if you have rights to use them or have received written permission from the copyright owner. Photos on Flickr that use the Creative Commons licensing agreement may be used with a credit, as per the Creative Commons rules. Our editors may add appropriate photos or other graphics at their discretion.
Videos that have been posted on YouTube or Vimeo may be embedded in a blog post without permission from the original poster.
Terms and Conditions
Posts must comply with the URJ’s Terms and Conditions, which generally state that any material that is defamatory or violates the rights or privacy of others in any way is not permitted, and that our editors have the right to remove material that is deemed as such.
Posts should not read as advertisements, brochures, or marketing pieces for any event, program or offering, as such posts will discredit the integrity of the blog as a place for discussion of Reform Jewish issues. Instead, if you are seeking to promote an event, program or other offering, choose a topic that is related to it, expound upon it, and mention/link to the product you are promoting at the end of the piece.
RJ.org is a place for describing new initiatives, especially the trends and events that may have led to their development. First-person perspectives and essays that highlight the work of your organization work particularly well here.
Our editors will choose posts to display and feature on the blog and will decide which posts receive “top billing” on the homepage’s rotator feature. Additionally, the Reform Movement will promote selected posts via its social media channels, including but not limited to:
- Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google+)
- E-newsletters and listservs
- Posting on affiliates websites or blogs
- Encouraging staff, board members, affiliates, and others to read, comment and share posts
Blog authors are encouraged to promote their posts using their personal social networks and to share their posts with their congregations for further promotion.
This blog is managed by Kate Bigam, with support from Jill Peltzman and Jane Herman, all members of the Union for Reform Judaism’s professional staff. It is overseen by an editorial board composed of equal proportions of clergy, URJ trustees, and lay people.
RJ.org Editorial Board
Chair: Jim Ball is a member of the URJ North American Board; he also chairs the Board’s Marketing & Communications Committee and is a Bridgebuilder. Jim attends Congregation Beth El of Sudbury, MA, and lives in Newton, MA with his wonderful wife, the writer Anita Diamant, their dog Buddy and too many Jewish books.
William Berkson is author of Pirke Avot: Timeless Wisdom for Modern Life (Jewish Publication Society 2010), He is Director of the Jewish Institute for Youth and Family, www.mentsh.com, and lead developer of its Becoming a Mentsh courses on Jewish values for teens. He is also designer of the typeface Williams Caslon Text (Font Bureau, 2010)
Donald C Cutler
Emilia Diamant is the Principal and Youth Director at Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, NC. She will be published in Jewish Lights’ upcoming book on Torah texts for teens.
Marge Eiseman describes herself as The Jewish Peddler and is involved in an array of organizations and activities from radio show host and itinerant Jewish teacher and performer to making music, cooking, reading, writing, storytelling and traveling. She is a member of Congregation Sinai in Milwaukee, WI.
Rabbi Edwin Goldberg
Rabbi Paul Kipnes is the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Ami in Calabasas, CA. He teaches Pastoral Counseling in the Rabbinical School and serves as a member of the Rhea Hirsch School of Jewish Education clinical faculty at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles. He serves as Rabbinic Dean at Camp Newman in Santa Rosa and co-chair of the revenue enhancement committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Rabbi Kipnes co-edited a national CCAR Journal issue on New Visions for Jewish Community. Rabbi Kipnes blogs here and at Or Am I?. He tweets @RabbiKip.
Rabbi Peter Knobel
Cantor Sally Neff
Jane Rips is a member of the URJ Board and a past president of her synagogue, Temple Israel, Omaha, Nebraska. She has spent the past 30 years as a dedicated community volunteer, chairing numerous fund raisers and events. She is a married to Harlan (whom she met in NFTY) and the mother of two 20-something daughters.
Rabbi Richard Sarason
Rabbi Phyllis Sommer is the associate rabbi at Am Shalom in Glencoe, Illinois, and the mama of four sweet little people who give her a lot to write about on her blog, Ima on and off the Bima.