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October 4, 2015 | 21st Tishrei 5776

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Trip Illustrates Surge of Reform Jews Visiting Israel Over the Past Year

NEW YORK, March 6 – The Union for Reform Judaism, the umbrella organization of the Reform Movement, is bringing more than 100 of its top leaders to Israel for a week-and-a-half long mission. The trip is being led by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president; Chairman of the Board Robert Heller; Rabbi Leonard Thal, senior vice president; and Rabbi Daniel Freelander, vice president. The group is departing today following a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Union and will return Wednesday, March 15.

The leadership mission, with participants from more than 20 states and Canada, marks a surge of Reform movement travel to Israel. In the past year, more than 70 congregations have planned congregational trips, the Eisendrath International Exchange High School in Israel program has been oversubscribed; more than 400 college students are participating on the Reform Birthright Israel programs, and a large large number of youth are expected to participate in Reform sponsored programs in Israel this summer.

Mission participants will spend of the first half of their trip based out Tel Aviv and finish the final portion in Jerusalem. Meetings have been scheduled with high-profile political and community leaders including the new United States ambassador to Israel, Richard Jones, David Horowitz, editor of The Jerusalem Post, Professor Alice Shalvi, founder of Israel's Women Network, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, Associate Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, and Rabbi Uri Regev, President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

URJ leaders will have the opportunity to choose from several different programming options each day, among them an in-depth view of the Ethiopian Jewish community, a discussion of political Jerusalem, and an exploration of Jewish and Arab women in Israel. The group is also scheduled to visit nine different Reform congregations for a better understanding of the Reform movement in Israel.

For more information on the Reform movement and its involvement with Israel visit the Union for Reform Judaism website at


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