Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, 46, is the Director of the Religious Action
Center of Reform Judaism. His venerable experience as a community
organizer will forge the vital consensus needed to advance a positive
vision for social justice.
He also currently serves as Senior
Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism, a position to which he
was elected to in 2011. Named one of the most influential rabbis in
America by Newsweek magazine, he has been an inspirational leader,
creative entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for social justice. He has
been a principal architect in transforming the URJ and guiding the
Reform Movement to become even more impactful as the largest Jewish
denomination in the world. Among other initiatives, he is a founder and
visionary leader of the Campaign for Youth Engagement, a bold strategy
to mobilize tens of thousands of young people in the Jewish community.
Rabbi Pesner's signature accomplishment has been to encourage Jewish
communities in interfaith efforts to reach across lines of race, class
and faith in campaigns for social justice. In 2006, he founded Just
Congregations, which impacts more than 260 communities in 32 states and
engages countless clergy, professional and volunteer leaders in
interfaith efforts for the common good. He has led and supported
campaigns for economic justice, marriage equality, human rights, and a
variety of other causes. He was a primary leader in the successful
Massachusetts campaign for health care access that has provided health
care coverage to hundreds of thousands and which became a model for
Rabbi Pesner has trained and mentored students on all
four campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion,
and gives speeches in interfaith and secular venues all over the world.
He has served as a scholar for the Wexner Foundation, American Jewish
World Service, and Combined Jewish Philanthropies, among others.
Ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1997,
Rabbi Pesner was a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston and
at Temple Israel in Westport, Conn. A graduate of Wesleyan University
and the Bronx High School of Science, Rabbi Pesner is married to Dana S.
Gershon, an attorney in Boston. They have four daughters: Juliet, Noa,
Bobbie and Cate.