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The Odd Couple: Reform Judaism and Zionism



by Rabbi Daniel M. Bronstein, Ph.D. Making sweeping historical generalizations is easy. Lots of people make them, even the best of historians. Broad statements can be a “necessary evil” when one is faced with limited time or space to make an historical point. But generalities can easily mutate into over-simplifications that ultimately obscure – if […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

How to Ensure Reform Voices and Values are Heard Throughout the World



Shalom from Jerusalem! I arrived on Sunday – together with many other Diaspora Jewish leaders – for the 37th Zionist Congress – often referred to as “The Parliament of the Jewish People.” Especially as our hearts break as our people are viciously attacked throughout this beloved land, taking us further and further from the peace […]

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The World Zionist Congress Begins This Week – and the Reform Movement is There!



I am sure that over the past couple of weeks you have watched the news coming out of Israel with grave concern. These new terror attacks are both difficult to deter and impossible to predict: One Israeli friend of mine commented, “It feels like 2002 all over again, except all the lessons we learned about […]

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Looking Back at Kutz@50… and Then Looking Forward



By Rabbi Michael A. White I recently returned from a magical week as a faculty member at the URJ Kutz Camp, the Reform Movement’s teen leadership institute at the foothills of the Catskills in Warwick, N.Y. My week at Kutz brought back memories of my first visit some 37 years ago. Nearly four decades ago, […]

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Kutz@50: A Gathering of the Generations



by Rabbi Lisa Silverstein Tzur It was truly a “standing at Sinai” moment. Despite geographical challenges, limited financial resources, and a national holiday, more than 650 Reform Jews came from around the world last weekend to reconnect with URJ Kutz Camp, the sacred place so many of us have called home over the years. We […]

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Echoing Through the Generations: The Story of Sylvester Marx



On Sunday, June 6, 1915, Sylvester Marx was confirmed at The Temple–Tifereth Israel in Cleveland, OH, marking the culmination of the young man’s Jewish education. A special reception followed, and the entire congregation joined in celebrating Sylvester and his fellow confirmands on that beautiful spring day.

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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 to Speak at 50th Anniversary March on Washington



Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, will represent the Reform Movement at the 50th Anniversary March on Washington on August 24, 2013 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.  The program will feature an interfaith ecumenical prayer service with national clergy and live musical performances. Rabbi Jacobs said, I am honored […]

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Honoring Chiune Sugihara, An Unknown Hero



Before today, the Coleman community had never heard of Chiune Sugihara. After today, I do not think that they will ever forget about him.

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One, Two, Three: Increase Your Congregation’s Israel Engagement



by Hope Chernak Last spring, I was privileged to participate, together with the URJ’s camp staff, in an educators’ kallah in Israel, held in partnership with several Jewish summer camps and concurrently with the Jewish Agency’s shlichim training seminar. I was fortunate to sit with talented educators—both North Americans and Israelis—who now are serving in […]

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D’var Torah of Awesome: MC New Orleans Engages With Congregation Gates of Prayer



To quote a piece of text from this week’s portion, “These were the marches of the Israelites who started out from the land of Egypt, troop by troop.” Well, these past two weeks have been our march. Starting out from all over the country, step by step, taking part in tikkun olam.

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Reflections on Meeting Pope Francis



by Rabbi Rick Block On Monday, I had the privilege of meeting Pope Francis, accompanied by my wife, Susie, and members of a small delegation of Jewish leaders from International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), of which the Central Conference of American Rabbis is a member. We met at the Apostolic Palace, the Pope’s […]

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Hard, Honest Questions



Will synagogues continue to exist in the future? Will the next generation engage in Jewish life? Is Reform Judaism still relevant? These hard, honest questions underlie the conversations we members of the URJ leadership team have every day with leaders and staff of Reform congregations.  Last week I was honored to be the ordination speaker […]

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