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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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The Scheidt Seminar: Learning and Bonding With My Peers



by Jonathan Cheris After two years as executive vice president of Temple Sinai of Roslyn, I am about to become president of this sacred place that is my home away from home. Thanks to the work of the incredible leaders in whose footsteps I follow, our membership numbers are growing and our programs are thriving […]

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The Scheidt Seminar: Shaping Leaders for a Sacred Task



“The Scheidt Seminar for Congregational Presidents and President-Elects seminar was one of the most meaningful professional development experiences of my entire career….Not only was this an inspiring leadership development experience, but it was a meaningful Jewish experience as well. By praying and studying together, my fellow presidents and presidents-elect formed a connection that links us […]

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Shaareinu: The “Collateral Good” Cannot be Overstated



By Eva Rubin Steen The leaders of Temple Beth Torah, a community that always has held inclusion and acceptance as core tenets, realized a few years ago that we were not doing a good job of welcoming those who face physical, emotional, or cognitive challenges. We recognized, too, that by excluding even one family member […]

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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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Moving Beyond Stones and Concrete to Worship of the Heart



by Beni Wajnberg A story in Avot de’Rabbi Natan, a midrashic text, illustrates perhaps one of the most important events that determined the future of Judaism following the destruction of the Temple. In it, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai is walking together with Rabbi Yehoshua. When they pass the ruins of the Temple in Jerusalem, Yehoshua […]

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Sacred Partnership: Achieving the Right Balance in Your Congregation



Mazel tov! You’ve just been elected to your first term as a trustee on the temple board. Together with your fellow congregational lay leaders, you struggle with the challenges surrounding member engagement, finances, and sustainable growth. More often than not, a part of each board meeting centers around discussing various creative ideas that you hope […]

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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 […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs’ Letter to Delegates at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly



Copies of this letter are being given to delegates at the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly in Detroit, MI, who will be voting this week on several Israel-focused resolutions related to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Dear Friend, As the president of America’s largest Jewish denomination, representing 1.5 million North American Jews, it is my […]

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Christian Leaders Offer Prayers, Consolation after Kansas Shooting



Our friends from the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) offered their sympathy this week for those affected by Sunday’s deadly shootings at two Jewish communities in a suburb of Kansas City, KS. As you surely know, three people were killed by gunfire, including a grandfather and his 14-year-old grandson. […]

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The “Wicked” Child of the Pew Study



by Rabbi Danny Burkeman Pesach is coming, and at s’darim across the Jewish community we will once again label four children as wise, wicked, simple, and the one who does not know how to ask. I have always struggled with this part of the seder for two reasons. All of my work with young people […]

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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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Why I Love Being a Reform Jew



by Rabbi Henry Jay Karp In my first installment in this series, I spoke about the merger discussions between our congregation and the Tri City Jewish Center.  At that time I stated that since I addressed institutional reasons for why the resulting congregation should affiliate with the Reform movement in my answers to the Merger […]

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The Myth of Denominational Demise



by Rabbi Lawrence A. Hoffman, Ph.D. The world is filled with certainties that aren’t – like the myth that religious denominations are dead. We will eventually have three inchoate pools of people, it is said: Orthodox, “Other,” and Unaffiliated. Already Orthodoxy is less a denomination than a way of life rooted in halakhic observance, community […]

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