Robert M. Heller is a past chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Union for Reform Judaism, the top lay leadership position in the Reform Movement. The Union is the congregational arm of Reform Judaism, representing more than 900 synagogues and 1.5 million Reform Jews in North America.
Heller, who served as chair of the Union for four years, from 2003 to 2007 (and vice chair before that), has been actively involved in the Union since 1987, having served the Union on the regional level before joining the national board in 1994.
Prior to being electged chairman Heller led a number of essential Reform Movement commissions and committees, chairing the Reform Leadership Council Joint Task Force on the Professional Shortage, the Joint Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism, the Joint Commission on Lifelong Jewish Learning, the Ad Hoc Salary Review Committee. He has also served on the Budget Committee, the Dues Policy Review Committee, the Maintenance of Union Membership Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee, the New Leadership Committee, the Consultation on Ethics, the National Commission on Rabbinic Congregational Relations, and many other Reform Movement lay-led bodies.
In addition to his work for the Union, Heller has served on the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union CollegeJewish Institute of Religion, the Reform Movements seminary, since 1996, chairing the New York Board of Overseers from 1966-2000. He has also been part of the Central Conference of American Rabbis Ad Hoc Ethics Guidelines Advisory Committee, a member of the Board of Directors of the Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, and part of the New York African American Jewish Leaders Dialogue Group.
An antitrust lawyer and former managing partner of the firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, Heller graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia College in 1963, and received his LL.B. magna cum laude from Columbia Law School three years later.
The Heller family has long been involved in Reform Movement life. Bobs father, the late Philip B. Heller, was a member of the Unions Board of Trustees in the 1950s and 60s, and also served on the Commission on Social Action. Bob Heller met his wife Amy at the Unions Eisner Camp Institute, and they are members of New York Citys Central Synagogue. They have two grown children, David B. Heller, married to Hermine Riegerl Heller, and Pamela L. Heller, married to Erik A. Hartog, and two grandchildren. All are members of Central Synagogue, and continue the familys involvement in the Reform Movement by supporting projects at the Unions Kutz Camp and Eisner Camp, as well as programs at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.