RABBI ERIC YOFFIE NAMED NUMBER ONE LEADER ACCORDING TO THE FORWARD'S ANNUAL "TOP FIFTY LIST OF LEADERSHIP"
Rabbi Eric Yoffie was named the top leader in The Forward's annual "Top Fifty List of Leadership" list, published Friday, November 19. The write-up notes, "when Rabbi Eric Yoffie acceded four years ago to the leadership of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Reform movement was at a crossroads. Its population was heavily intermarried ... Reform rabbis were becoming more traditional, but synagogue roles were filling up with the gentile spouses of members. How to turn this movement, long known for its passionate attachment to social justice, toward the religious revival that was sweeping Judaism?"
The article mentions that initially a "small faction" was opposed to his appointment because he was "too interested in politics and not enough interested in religion ..." But, the paper continues, "nowadays, however, Rabbi Yoffie is seen as the leader steering the movement toward greater tradition, ritual, emphasis on education and youth. He is resuscitating the Reform movement's youth group, is presiding over a phenomenal expansion of the Reform camping system, and is making intensive adult Torah study a hallmark of his tenure. Temple boards are studying Jewish texts together beforemeetings. Reform leaders are meeting every summer to retreats called kallot."
"The whole notion is to change the culture," Rabbi Yoffie Said. "Temple business is holy business."
The article then goes on to speak about the merger of ARZA and the World Union to provide the infrastructure for Reform's push for recognition in Israel and concludes:
"Along the way he's been the target of more than his share of bitter criticism. He has met it with an openness, good humor and grace that is rare among the leadership. The next phase of all this tumult will take place in 2000, making this 52-year-old Brandeis-educated tribune of the next generation the number one leader worth watching in the year ahead."