Introducing the URJ’s 2020 Vision: A Clear View of Our Future

When Rabbi Rick Jacobs assumed the presidency of the Union for Reform Judaism two years ago, the URJ committed to develop more coherent and aligned services that not only would significantly strengthen Reform congregations and the pressing issues they face, but also would advance the mission and ideals of Reform Judaism.

To understand the needs of congregations of all sizes and from all over the continent, Rabbi Jacobs and I, as well as other members of the URJ’s senior lay and professional leadership visited with congregations, communities, and key leaders throughout North America, engaging in a comprehensive listening tour. Nearly 80% of the Movement’s congregations weighed in — telling the team about life in your communities, about your creative approaches to challenges, and about your concerns for Jewish life in the future. Using all your input as data, we have formulated the URJ’s 2020 Vision: A Clear View of Our Future, a framework that we believe will help us share your successes, learn from one another, and provide new ideas to solve congregational and Movement-wide challenges.

I am pleased to share with you now an interactive presentation about the 2020 Vision at I hope you will take 15 or 20 minutes to explore the presentation, which delves more deeply into the URJ’s bold and ambitious vision for the future of Reform Judaism and the opportunities for your congregation.

The presentation explains the vision in a linear narrative, and will guide you from page to page. If you are pressed for time, or just want an initial overview, you may want to use the navigation buttons at the bottom to go from section to section instead. And, please note that each page has a “contact us” button in the upper right hand corner. We really do want to hear from you, so when you’ve finished, we hope you will take a moment to share your reactions. Finally, if you would like a member of the URJ’s senior leadership team to join your temple board by video to discuss the vision, please contact Shelley Schweitzer.

I am confident that the 2020 Vision puts the URJ on the path to building a vibrant Reform Movement and bright Jewish future. I hope you agree – and I look forward to hearing from you.

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Stephen M. Sacks

About Stephen M. Sacks

Stephen M. Sacks is chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Union for Reform Judaism, the top lay leadership position in the Reform Movement.

4 Responses to “Introducing the URJ’s 2020 Vision: A Clear View of Our Future”

  1. avatar

    Pathetic. A campaign aimed at outreach that eliminates all printed materials. Ending RJ Magazine and the entire URJ publishing arm? How about finally joining the 21st century and offering ebooks and electronic magazine subscriptions?

    And you think relying on CCAR will help? Laaughable. How many years ago did they create the iPad app for Mishkan T’filah and there still isn’t one for the Android platform which is now dominant on mobile devices? As usual, it’s like the movement has no conception at all of he outside world or the things people take for granted from contemporary technology. Tikkun olam? It doesn’t sound like it’s the world that needs fixing here.

  2. avatar

    Hi Michael,

    I share your disappointment at the URJ getting out of the magazine and book business. I also share your frustration with the slow progress Reform has made in general, technologically speaking. But rest assured, there is work underway to try to catch up. I will write to you privately to continue this conversation, but I wanted to write something publicly here, to let others know you know you are not alone in your disappointment and frustration, and to let them know that there is progress being made.

  3. avatar

    One question I have about URJ 2020 is: was its launch supposed to be a “soft launch”? Because maybe I’m just “out of it” or not the intended audience, but I did not find out about it until some months later. As far as I can tell the only link to it from the existing URJ site is via this blog entry.

    I don’t see any reference to URJ 2020 on the web sites of the institutions arguably most immediately affected by it: URJ Books & Music and Reform Judaism Magazine.

    I regularly checked and didn’t see it. I guess if, like me, you didn’t see this blog entry you would have missed it. Shouldn’t it be (and have been) a bit more “front and center” on

    I have various Google alerts set up that I would have thought would have caught it, but did not. They catch other URJ news that, for whatever reason, caught Googles attention, via the mysteries of SEO.

    Perhaps information about URJ 2020 was supposed to be distributed by member synagogues, to their congregants, in which case my synagogue (or my ignoring of their communications) is partly to blame?

    I hope that either a soft launch was intended, or I’m not the intended audience. Because, otherwise, the initiative is off to a rather rocky start, in terms of communications. Without RJ Magazine, other ways of informing members must be found.

    • Kate Bigam

      Hi, Ben,

      We’re so sorry to hear that the news about the URJ’s 2020 Vision slipped by you, as we’ve been working hard to publicize it through numerous channels. It was sent to Reform congregational & community leaders in a variety of ways, including announcements in our Inside Leadership newsletter, on the website & here on, posted in The Tent & on social media, via emails to various groups of leaders, and through a series of webinars. In fact, February is Webinar Month here at the URJ; we hope you’ll join us for the webinar most tailored to you to learn more about the 2020 Vision. You can check out the list of upcoming webinars & sign up for one here:

      We appreciate your feedback & will take it into consideration as we continue to publicize news of the 2020 Vision. Please let us know if you have additional questions. We’re happy to help however we can!

      Kate Bigam
      URJ Social Media & Community Manager

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