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 […]Read more
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 […]Read more
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 […]Read more
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 […]Read more
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 […]Read more
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. […]Read more
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.Read more
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 […]Read more
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 […]Read more
Ethan Kadish is a 13-year-old boy in great need of the Reform Jewish community’s help. On June 29, 2013, the afternoon peace of Shabbat at URJ Goldman Union Camp Institute (GUCI) in Zionsville, IN, was shattered by a lightning strike that left three campers unresponsive on the athletic field. Thanks to the skill, courage, and […]Read more
Summers in New York City are blisteringly hot. To escape, some people head to the Jersey Shore or to other beaches to cool off; others head to the mountains to get away from the humidity. Me? This July, I headed to the Deep South – Tennessee and Mississippi, to be exact – and although I […]Read more
Is Judaism the problem or the solution to women’s equality? Try telling agunot, women who are chained to their husbands unable to obtain a get, a religious divorce, that they are equal to men. Overarching Jewish values like b’tzelem Elohim — that all people are created in the image of God — may teach equality, […]Read more
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 […]Read more
Mr. Mayor, I have no illusions that my eloquent letter of invitation is what brought you here this morning. First, it helps to know someone at City Hall. My wife and I are blessed to know and love your First Deputy Mayor Patti Harris, who graces us here today and has contributed so much to your administration, this city, and our family.
But I suspect that a significant reason the mayor is here this morning is because of his long and close collaboration with my wife, Susan Freedman, to bring exhilarating public art to NYC, like the “NYC Waterfalls” and this year’s “Discovering Columbus.” Mayor Bloomberg has been an extraordinary supporter of the arts, especially the public kind that all New Yorkers and visitors can experience.Read more