A Message from Rabbi Rick Jacobs

For many, summer is a season of travel and that’s certainly true for me right now. Last week I was in Chicago, where I had the pleasure of meeting with a number of my rabbinic colleagues, synagogue professionals, and lay leaders in congregations throughout the city. This past week I was in Baltimore, where similar meetings were held. I spent Shabbat evening together with the Oheb Shalom family in this city rich in Reform Jewish history as the congregation celebrates its 160th anniversary. What a milestone!

No matter the city or the congregation, though, it’s always important to get a lay of the land from the folks who make our congregations tick and to hear firsthand from them about the day-to-day goings-on, as well as the special events and initiatives being planned in their synagogues. These conversations continue to inform the holy work my team and I are doing to re-imagine the landscape of Jewish life and I’m grateful to all those who participate in them.

This week I’m in Israel (always a homecoming!) for the country’s annual presidential conference, where I’ll attend the proceedings and speak in a roundtable discussion about Israel’s Jewish identity and a panel on Judaism and Women’s Equality (Visit the conference website for a live broadcast of the panel discussion Thursday, June 20 at 9:30 AM EST / 4:30 PM Israel time). My departure from Israel will take me to Kiev for the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors meeting. I’m excited about the blossoming partnership between JAFI and the URJ, and I look forward to updating you about this gathering once I’m home.

In the meantime, summer means that our 13 overnight camps are just beginning to welcome campers during opening day ceremonies, and before too long will be in full swing with record numbers of young people in attendance. I’m eagerly anticipating my upcoming visits with staff and campers at Jacobs Camp, Camp Coleman, and Camp Newman.

Summer also is the season for rabbinic transition. Congregations welcoming new rabbis in July should save the date and plan to send leaders to this year’s Shallat Rabbinic Transition Program and Retreat, scheduled for January 26-27, 2014, in Dallas, TX. Consistently revered as providing essential knowledge and skills to leaders in congregations experiencing clergy transition, the Shallat Program is a not-to-be-missed event.

Together with lay leaders, URJ staff members are using this season to gear up for our big events at the end of the year – the URJ Biennial and the WRJ Centennial Assembly, both slated for December 11-15 in San Diego, CA. The Biennial is the place where the Reform Jewish family comes together and this year’s event, as always, promises to be a truly inspiring week of learning, sharing, envisioning and networking. For details about what’s in store, check out our most recent update. I look forward to seeing you there!

All the best for a happy and healthy summer.

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

About Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs is the president of the URJ. See his full bio and other writings on the URJ website.

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