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Space at the Kotel for Progressive Judaism Means More Than a New Shul



I’ve always felt uncomfortable when visiting the Kotel. The heavy security, the immediate mandatory separation of men and women, and the loud prayer on the men’s side matched by near-silence from the women. At the holiest site of my faith, my values are nowhere to be seen. This acts as a reminder to me that […]

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Thoughts on the Kotel, the day after…



Shalom Haverim, Yesterday we all learned of the historic vote that took place in Israel recognizing an interdenominational consensus on Judaism’s holiest site.  The Government of Israel officially approved the expansion of the egalitarian section of the Western Wall known as the “Ezrat Yisrael”.   Why is this so dramatic and important? As our partners in […]

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Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by Dan Ephron



Twenty years after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, a horrible question arises: Was the murder a complete and unmitigated success? I remember exactly where I was on November 4, 1995:  dozing with family on a lazy Shabbat afternoon. The TV was on, and it grabbed our attention when the program cut to breaking news. Rabin […]

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Im Tirtzu: Just Lashon Hara or Worse?



By now, many of us have seen the video. It opens with a horror-film score and a scene of everyday Israeli life. A dark, bearded, sinister man approaches the camera and raises a knife. You, the viewer, are the victim of a terrorist attack. The narration then begins, in the tone of a spy thriller. […]

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Which Intensive Programming Tracks Will You Choose at the URJ Biennial?



Whether you’re a URJ Biennial veteran or this will be your first time attending, we can’t wait to see you in Orlando this November! Together, we’ll experience the best and biggest Reform Jewish gathering ever – the rousing song sessions, joyous Shabbat worship, incredible ruach, inspiring entertainment and musical performances, occasions to network with Reform […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Fathers and Sons



The story of the binding of Isaac (the Akeidah) never fails to get inside us because death hangs in every verse. Will the boy die? Will the dad become a mourner? If this drama doesn’t give you chills, you probably aren’t listening. I know we’re supposed to be focusing on Abraham and Isaac, but I […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

4 Surprising Ways Camp Connects Us All



Sports, games, art and science projects. Swimming, hiking, climbing. Laughing, learning, sharing. It’s these activities, and more, that transform summer camp into one of the strongest links in the Reform Movement’s chain of connections. In fact, summertime for the URJ is like one huge game of connect-the-dots. Connecting current campers with alumni. Connecting clergy with […]

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This Month in The Tent: No Summer Slowdown Here!



Much of the world slows down during the summer, and even synagogues aren’t the hustling, bustling places they typically are during the rest of the year. Nonetheless, conversations continue unabated in The Tent, the URJ’s online communication and collaboration forum. Many of the current discussions focus on planning for 5776, with these conversations proving especially […]

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Coming Full Circle: The NFTY in Israel Tikkun Olam Experience



by Sharon Mann The phrase “what goes around, comes around” came to mind recently as I remembered back five years to the time I saw my daughter, Ayelet, off on a flight from Tel Aviv to Toronto, Canada. She was headed to URJ Camp George, a Reform Jewish summer camp where she would spend the […]

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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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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Israel: Front and Center



As we all wait for word about the future of the critical talks between Iran and the P5+1 in Vienna, I want to share a few thoughts about my recent time in Israel, meeting with politicians, fellow Reform Movement leaders, and some of the talented individuals staffing our Israel programs this summer. It was a […]

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18+ Ways to Make LGBT Members Feel Welcome in Your Congregation



June is here, and in honor of LGBT Pride Month, we’re sharing suggestions for welcoming LGBTQ members into your congregation and community. Do you have ideas to add to this list? Leave them in the comments below! Celebrate Gay Pride Month (June) with a special Shabbat service. Invite LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning/Queer) members […]

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Shavuot: Celebration and Obligation



In just a few days, we will conclude this year’s counting of the Omer with the celebration of Shavuot, the first of our tradition’s three annual pilgrimage festivals, and the one that has come to be associated with the giving of Torah atop Mt.Sinai, as well as with confirmation and post b’nai mitzvah study. The […]

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June 3 is Worldwide Unity Day: Promoting the Jewish People as One



In the summer of 2014, three Israeli teens – Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaer, and Naftali Fraenkel – were kidnapped by terrorists on their way home from school. Jews from around the world came together to search, pray, and offer support. The building sense of Jewish unity while the boys were held captive reached its peak […]

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