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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Leadership Development: Experience the Continuum and Commitment at Biennial 2015



In my experience, synagogue leaders are among the most committed and devoted lifelong learners. With that in mind, I’m especially pleased that a large segment of the Biennial 2015 programming will offer congregational leaders the real-world skills and cutting-edge tools necessary to effect tangible and lasting change in their communities. In fact, the first two-and-a-half […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Shavuot: Celebration and Obligation



In just a few days, we will conclude this year’s counting of the Omer with the celebration of Shavuot, the first of our tradition’s three annual pilgrimage festivals, and the one that has come to be associated with the giving of Torah atop Mt.Sinai, as well as with confirmation and post b’nai mitzvah study. The […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Reform Jewish Leaders: Strong, Creative, and Inspiring Agents of Change



I have been fortunate to spend time in recent weeks with an array of Reform leaders, including nearly 100 congregational presidents at our annual Schiedt Seminar and many of the newest and soon-to-be HUC ordinees and graduates – clergy, educators, and Jewish professionals who are eager and exceedingly well qualified to help reshape the Reform […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Unconditionally Loving Israel and Jewish Values



This speech was given tonight at the JStreet Conference in Washington, D.C. We gather at a pivotal moment in the history of Israel. It is precisely at such a time that the North American Jewish community is in desperate need of an open, honest and serious conversation about the Jewish state. I believe that this […]

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Rabbi Jacobs Reports from NFTY Convention



I dare any of those who are uneasy about the North American Jewish future to maintain their pessimism after spending, as I have just done, 72 hours with the teen leaders of our Movement at the 2015 NFTY Convention and Youth Summit in Atlanta. I attend a lot of conferences, and I have never walked […]

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Signs of Hope for the Future: A Promising Meeting in Israel



I’m writing from an airplane (for a change!), heading home after an unexpected 36 hours in Israel, including an important meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu. I was not planning on being in Israel this week. Natan Sharansky called just before Shabbat with a summons to come to Israel to find a way to make real […]

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An Update on “Stop the Sirens”



As you know, the conflict in Gaza has intensified. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Israeli soldiers killed in action, with our brothers and sisters in Israeli, and with all who are in danger. When the conflict began, the Reform Movement made a decision to join Stop the Sirens, a community-wide […]

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Celebrating NFTY’s Diamond Jubilee



Taking the words of the prophet Joel as the refrain of her 1981 classic song “And The Youth Shall See Visions,” Debbie Friedman captured the role of young people in our Movement: And the old shall dream dreams, and the youth shall see visions, And our hopes shall rise up to the sky. For 75 […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Why I Support J Street Joining the Conference of Presidents (Hint: It’s Not about J Street)



This week the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations will meet to consider the application for membership from J Street. J Street, which calls itself “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” has successfully completed all the administrative requirements for membership. The Conference – which exists to bring together the entire Jewish, pro-Israel community […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

What Is Audacious Hospitality?



The Jewish people is here today because those who came before us were audacious. By that I mean courageous, fearless, and bold. Genesis teaches us to practice audacious hospitality. On a blisteringly hot day, Abraham runs after three desert wanderers, insisting they come inside for nourishment. What makes his act so memorable is not waiting […]

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Remembering Mark Levy



Recently, I attended the funeral of Mark Levy, z”l, in Los Angeles and had the honor of celebrating his life. Mark and his wife, Peachy, have been deeply committed to the future of the Jewish people for decades. Through their incredible leadership, they have distinguished themselves as two of the Reform Movement’s most generous donors. […]

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NFTY and BBYO: We Can Make Each Other Stronger



As I write this, I’m on a literal and figurative high – literal because I’m writing to you from a flight back to New York from Dallas, where I had the privilege of attending and addressing the BBYO International Convention. Wait a minute, you’re thinking, Why is the president of the Union for Reform Judaism going to a BBYO convention? Isn’t BBYO the rival of NFTY, the Reform youth movement?

I’m here to tell you – and you can quote me on it – that BBYO is not our rival. They are our partner.

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ASA’s Boycott Should End ASAP



Like many of you, I have been disturbed by the American Studies Association’s (ASA) vote to boycott Israeli academic institutions.  As outraged as I am about the ASA’s decision, I am gratified by the many strong and clear reactions from the academic community. As of today there are 33 U.S. universities that have made public […]

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Don’t Give Up on Jews Who Care About Being Jewish



Last week, the Pew Center for Research released a new study of American Jews that is still reverberating throughout the Jewish world and beyond. But so much of the analysis has been locked into binary categories: Who won and who lost? Is the glass half full or half empty? Are Jews a religion or a […]

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