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December 20, 2014 | 28th Kislev 5775
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Senior Vice President - Rabbi Jonah Pesner

Rabbi Jonah Pesner

Rabbi Jonah Pesner was elected Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) in 2011.  Named one of the most influential rabbis in America, he has been an inspirational leader, creative entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for social justice.  In his current position, he is 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 the 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 pioneer efforts to organize Jewish communities into 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 180 communities in thirty 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 saved thousands of lives and which became a model for national reform.

Rabbi Pesner teaches 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. 

Rabbi Pesner is the founding Chair of the Board of JOIN for Justice (the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network).  Currently, he serves on the board of the New England Center for Children, and previously he served on the boards of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Jewish Memorial Hospital.  He was a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston and at Temple Israel in Westport, CT.

Rabbi Pesner has written numerous journal articles and has contributed essays to a variety of publications. He was the Meyer W. Nathans Scholar at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he was ordained in 1997.  A graduate of Wesleyan University and the Bronx High School of Science, Rabbi Pesner is married to Boston attorney, Dana S. Gershon. Together they have four daughters, Juliet, Noa, Bobbie and Cate.


Speeches & Writings

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