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August 30, 2015 | 15th Elul 5775
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Irving J. Fain Social Action Awards

The Fain Awards are presented every two years to congregations whose work in the area of social justice is exemplary: congregations that have successfully involved large numbers of congregants in their social action programs or that have developed genuinely innovative and/or particularly effective projects. See previous winners and application information.

Belin Outreach and Membership Awards

In addition to honoring congregations that have developed uniquely innovative and effective Outreach and Membership programs, the Belin Outreach and Membership Awards also solicit programs that engage and retain members of our congregations.  Winning programs are available in the Idea Book series available from URJ Books and Music. Learn more about the awards and the application process.

The Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award
Named in memory of Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, the executive director and President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations from 1943 – 1973, this award is the highest honor bestowed by the Reform Movement.

Rabbi Eisendrath began his leadership of the Union as executive secretary, a position which was later changed to president. In 1951 Rabbi Eisendrath moved the Union’s headquarters from Cincinnati to New York, dramatizing the adoption of a more dynamic program of leadership within the Movement. The Union purchased its first camp in the early 1950s, and the Movement’s emphasis on social action began in earnest, culminating with the 1961 founding of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Under Rabbi Eisendrath the Movement experienced tremendous growth, as congregations were formed in the new suburbs populated by returning GIs. By 1956 there were 536 congregations in the Union, and by 1970 the number reached 706.

Every two years at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Biennial, the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award is conferred in two categories: Service to Reform Jewry and Service to the World Community.

Alexander M. Schindler Award for Service to World Jewry

Named for the second President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, this award honors an individual who has shown a passion, leadership and commitment in relation to World Jewry.

During Rabbi Schindler's 23 year tenure as president, the Union experienced exceptional growth and significant developments in organizational policy. The visionary father of the Union’s acclaimed Torah Commentary, Rabbi Schindler recognized and worked toward meeting the Movement’s need for enriched religious school studies as well as stimulating and meaningful adult Jewish education. A true Ohev Yisroel, lover of Israel, he prodded the Reform Movement to participate fully in the Zionist world and was a prime mover in the creation of ARZA and ARZA Canada.

Rabbi Schindler called on the Reform community to become “Champions of Judaism.” He urged the Movement to welcome those who chose Judaism as their spiritual home and those who married into our faith and became involved in Jewish homes. Just as tenaciously, he promoted patrilineality, acceptance of Jewishly educated children of Jewish fathers as Jews and urged Reform Judaism to fortify the inner life of every Jew. In pushing for “inreach,” spiritual self-actualization, he said: “What purpose of outreach, pray tell, if there is nothing within?” Rabbi Schindler repeatedly called upon Reform Jews to take pride in their faith and make Judaism a meaningful enterprise in their lives.

Rabbi Schindler was a remarkably compassionate humanitarian, devoted to social justice and religious action, always seeking to better the human condition, to gain rights for the disenfranchised, and sustenance for the destitute and the downtrodden.


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