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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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It Takes a Village (and a Little URJ Help) to Build a Congregational Website



With people doing so much of their shopping online these days – for everything from clothing to electronics to groceries to books, and just about everything else – it’s become evident to my synagogue’s board that temple shopping begins online, too. Prospective members no longer wait to drop in unannounced at Shabbat services or attend […]

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Welcome to the Tent!



For some time now, you may have been hearing about The Tent, our new online communication and collaboration platform for the leadership of the Reform movement. We are pleased to announce that during the next few weeks, you will be invited to join the community of Reform Leaders actively using the Tent online collaboration software […]

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URJ Awards Grants to Fund Taste of Judaism™ Classes



The Union for Reform Judaism has awarded grants to congregations in 17 cities to offer Taste of Judaism ™, a free, three-session class for beginners – Jewish or not – that explores the topics of Jewish spirituality, ethics and community values. A Taste of Judaism™ is a high-visibility, low-threshold program of liberal Jewish content designed […]

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You Say You Want a (B’nai Mitzvah) Revolution?



We are hearing regularly from congregations who know that bar and bat mitzvah have tremendous potential and are thinking about challenging the assumptions of traditional b’nai mitzvah in search of more meaningful and transformative experiences and to help reduce the staggering rates of post-b’nai mitzvah dropout. The B’nai Mitzvah Revolution was launched a year ago […]

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How to Get Jews to Synagogue? Go to Church.



by Rachel Loftspring My best friend is a devout Christian; I am a secular Jew. She says grace before every meal; I occasionally raise a glass in l’chaim (more often, though, a simple cheers). She goes to church or watches it online nearly every Sunday; I haven’t been to synagogue in ages. On a recent […]

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Congregational Resources for the High Holy Days



Can it already be the second week of July? Unbelievable as it may seem, this week means something big for congregations: The High Holy Days are less than two months away! With Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur quickly approaching, many congregations are already busy preparing. The URJ has a number of resources to help your […]

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The Ice Cream Cone Approach to Youth Engagement



Recently, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been full of stories and photos of campers and counselors getting ready for their return to camp, their trip to Israel or their adventure with a service-learning program. I am so happy for all them. They are following a path that we, in the professional Jewish world, have […]

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And Now It’s Time for a Biennial Update…



We want to share a few exciting updates about the URJ Biennial, happening December 11-15 in San Diego. Every day, it seems, another key piece falls into place! Registration will open in July. Keep an eye out for more information about how to register. Make sure to sign up for updates and start making your […]

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Facing the Worst-Kept Synagogue Secret



Do you want to know the worst-kept synagogue secret? It is not about politics at the pulpit or the fact that most Jews do not regularly attend Shabbat services. No, the worst-kept synagogue secret is that almost 90% of the young people who become bar or bat mitzvah in our synagogues are absent from our […]

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Time to Replace Programmatic Model of Jewish Affiliation



by Ron Wolfson It’s that time of year, when Jewish institutions pull out their 2013-14 calendars and fill them with events. Many of the programs are very good, with clever names and slick marketing: Jews and Brews for young Federation leadership; L’mazeltov for expectant parents; Torah and Tacos for synagogue members who favor a certain […]

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Maimonides Preached Inclusion, But We Still Don’t Seem To Get It



As concerned as we are about economic justice, the American Jewish community has failed to understand, on a gut level, a glaring reality: Adults with disabilities in the U.S. disproportionately experience poverty. According the census bureau, about one in five Americans has a disability. That means 20% of us. Eighty percent of adults with disabilities […]

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Finding Redemption…At Camp



Coming to camp has many parallels with the Exodus story. When campers get ready for that first summer at camp, they are leaving everything they know; they are leaving home for an unknown land; they have to have faith that it will all work out in the end. (And, no, I’m not saying that our lives at home are Egypt or that parents are enslaving their kids… it’s an imperfect metaphor, but still one that is valuable.)

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Hey, Beth Tikvah: What Are You Hoping For?



A highlight of my trips to Kiev has been visiting the Progressive synagogue, Congregation Hatikvah. It was hardly necessary for Rabbi Alex Duchovny to explain their hope (Hatikvah): upgrade their small, shabby facilities, to help make Progressive Judaism attractive as a religious force in Ukraine, where Orthodox institutions, even if not Orthodox lifestyles, are dominant. […]

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