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Five Lessons Learned: How the URJ’s Communities of Practice Strengthen Congregations



by Amy Asin and Lisa Lieberman Barzilai Two years ago, the Union for Reform Judaism launched its Communities of Practice (CoP) initiative. We began with five separate cohorts, comprising lay and professional leaders from congregations throughout North America: Pursuing Excellence in Your Early Centers Engaging Families with Young Children Engaging Young Adults Reimagining Financial Support […]

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Chicago’s Innovative Approach to Engaging Young Families



by Nancy Manewith It all began with an amazing meeting – a discussion, really – with Susan Zukrow, the URJ’s project director for the Chicago Early Engagement Leadership Initiative (CEELI). This new program, funded by the Crown Family Philanthropies and facilitated by the URJ, brings together 12 cross-denominational Jewish early childhood centers from the Chicago […]

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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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The Days of Awe, Community, and “Relational Judaism”



Rabbi Chaim Halberstam, a distinguished Hasid, told a parable about the Days of Awe of a man who is lost in the woods. Just when he is losing hope, he runs into another person and is filed with joy, exclaiming “Brother, tell me which is the right way. I have been wandering for days.” His […]

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Now Introducing Bonim Kehilah for Jewish Young Adults



Much has been written about millennials and how they’re constructing adult lives: They live at home longer, marry later, and are less likely to affiliate with political and religious institutions than ever before. It follows that those young adults looking for sustained, meaningful Jewish engagement find few entry points into the current communal landscape. Without […]

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Achieving Excellence by Pursuing Excellence in our Early Childhood Center



For the past 18 months, the URJ supported three “Communities of Practice,” cohorts of congregations that came together to learn, discuss, and experiment in a specific field. Members from participating congregations have been asked to reflect about their process. by Dr. Paula Sayag As an early childhood consultant with Washington, D.C.’s central Jewish education agency, […]

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Engage Jewish Youth During the High Holiday Season



With the High Holidays approaching, congregations are considering new ways to effectively connect to more youth at this vital time in the Jewish calendar. If your synagogue is among those looking at new approaches this year, consider the following variables: Make sure the program content is varied. Teens need spirituality, but are also drawn to […]

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Eight Ways Your Congregation Can Be More Welcoming for the High Holidays



The High Holidays are a special time in the Jewish calendar, a time when many unaffiliated Jews (those who are not members of a congregation) may feel the need to connect to the broader Jewish community. Even if they don’t attend synagogue throughout the year, the High Holidays may inspire these individuals and their families […]

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Men of Reform Judaism Announces New Strategic Plan



The Men of Reform Judaism (MRJ) met recently in New Orleans for their annual convention where they announced significant organizational changes to better advocate for and support compelling strategies to engage and connect the men of Reform Judaism. MRJ is the affiliate organization of the Union for Reform Judaism that is focused on connecting and […]

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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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URJ Camp Offers Incentive Program for Jewish Military Families



The URJ is proud to announce an innovative Camper Incentive Program for Jewish Military Families on Active Duty, open to Jewish families with at least one parent on Active Duty in the United States Armed Forces. The program will be offered at the URJ Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, MS, which has served more […]

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Apply for Taste of Judaism™ Advertising Grants!



The URJ is now accepting applications for 2014-2015 Taste of Judaism™ Advertising Grants. Since 1994, A Taste of Judaism: Are You Curious?™ has engaged nearly 100,000 individuals searching for an easy access point to liberal Jewish life. Classes are advertised as “open to all, Jewish or not.” We want you to consider making Taste™ a […]

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Biennial: The Antidote to Pew Study Anxiety



Soon after I finished reading the Pew Research’s Religion and Public Life Project study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans,” the first thing I did was to register for the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial Convention in San Diego. Getting together with 5,000+ committed Jews ranks high on my short list of responses to the more […]

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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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