The Future of Reform Judaism: What Do YOU Think?



This summer has been a busy and historic one for the URJ. It’s been nearly two months since Rabbi Rick Jacobs was installed at president of the Union for Reform Judaism, taking the reins from Rabbi Eric Yoffie, who now serves as our president emeritus. For those of you who couldn’t be at the presidential installation, take a look at the videos we’ve recently posted from that inspiring service, also embedded below.

In a recent email to congregational leaders, URJ Chairman of the Board Steve Sacks suggested temple boards set aside time at their next meeting to watch the video together. We’ve even prepared some discussion questions to help you consider the installation in the context of your own congregations. A few of the suggested questions are below, but they’re not just for board members. We’d love to hear your answers to some of these questions in the comment section of this post.

  • Referring to what the Rev. Moore said, how have we spent more time glancing back to the past and not looking toward the future? How can we change that?
  • Why do you think Rabbi Jacobs included movement or dance as part of the installation? How can we re-imagine our services?
  • Does this installation look different than you might have expected? How? What do you think this says about the new leadership of the URJ?
  • The new NFTY Board President Evan Traylor read three Torah portions at the installation and NFTY Board Members were invited to march during the Torah service at installation. How can we involve more teens in our services?
  • How can we join Rabbi Jacobs and the URJ in building a brighter Jewish future?
  • In Rabbi Jacobs’ sermon, he says, “This Shabbat afternoon service reflects the openness and passion of our uniquely Reform spirituality.” How can our services reflect the openness and passion of our community’s unique Reform spirituality?
  • In his sermon, Rabbi Jacobs also says, “The sacred mission of our Movement transcends the walls of the synagogue, and we must get that message out to all who want to join us on our journey of hope and healing in the world.” How can we transcend the walls of our synagogue and reach out and invite others to join us?
  • And finally, in Rabbi Jacobs’ installation sermon, Rabbi Jacobs says, “Guarding Israel’s security is our sacred responsibility. So too is the need to ensure that the values we hold dear – equality, tolerance, pluralism, democracy – are understood and protected in Israel.” What is our congregation doing to stand up for Israel while also ensuring that Israel protects and supports all expressions of Judaism?

Take some time to think these questions over… and then let us know what’s on your mind!

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Kate Bigam

About Kate Bigam

Kate Bigam is the URJ's Social Media and Community Manager. Prior to this, she served as a Congregational Representative for the URJ's East District and at the Religious Action Center as Press Secretary and as an Eisendrath Legislative Assistant. Kate is a native of Cuyahoga Falls, OH, and currently resides in Red Bank, N.J.

One Response to “The Future of Reform Judaism: What Do YOU Think?”

  1. avatar

    There are several possible ways to interpret the remarks of both Rev. Moore and Rabbi Jacobs about past vs. future. The interpretation that I think will be obvious to most listeners/readers of those sermons is the dichotomy of Classical and “Modern” Reform Judaism. If I asked at random, I am sure that most people thought of that, and enthusiastically applauded it. However, I have personal insider information from Rabbi Jacobs himself that this was not the main intent of those remarks, at least on his part. That was a pleasant surprise for me.

    Yet, I am still somewhat in the dark as to what he DID mean. I can only guess that he was suggesting that despite his endorsement of the overall agenda of a “re-claiming” of traditional practices, it is also important to develop vigorously modern expressions of our ancient Jewish Faith, and re-think some of the main facets of Reform Jewish life. The dancing and other cutting-edge elements of that Service might be hints of just that. I am curious as to other people’s hypotheses regarding this…

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