Union for Reform Judaism Mourns the Loss of Rabbi Balfour Brickner Social Justice Activist was A Visionary Within Our Movement
Yoffie: The silencing of his strong, unwavering voice in these struggles is a loss for our Movement, for the Jewish people, and for all who strive to repair our broken world.
The Reform Jewish Movement mourns the loss of Rabbi Balfour Brickner, the former spiritual leader of Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City and a long-serving member of the professional staff of the Union for Reform Judaism. Rabbi Brickner, a Zionist, social justice advocate, author, and scholar, passed away August 29 at the age of 78.
Rabbi Brickner fought for equality and social justice across the globe from the segregated American South in the 1960s, to Vietnam in the early 1970s, to Nicaragua in the 1980s. Most notably, he advocated on behalf of Israel throughout his long career, and was among the first American Jews to travel to Israel at the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
In addition to his accomplishments in the field of social justice, Rabbi Brickner was the founding rabbi of Temple Sinai in Washington DC; the director of the Reform Movements Commission on Interreligious Affairs; and a member of the executive staff of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism).
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, offered the following remarks:
The Union for Reform Judaism is deeply saddened by the death of Rabbi Balfour Brickner, a visionary within our Movement. In all facets of his rabbinate and, indeed, in his life, Rabbi Brickner demonstrated deep commitment and courage in the battles for social justice and equality for all. His wise leadership on interreligous relations, his rich passion for justice, and his unwillingness to tolerate inequality have inspired so many of us. The silencing of his strong, unwavering voice in these struggles is a loss for our Movement, for the Jewish people and for all who strive to repair our broken world.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC.