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October 7, 2015 | 24th Tishrei 5776
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Contact: Donald Cohen-Cutler

Lay Leaders to Study Religious Leadership Skills with Top Teachers and Rabbis
Reform Movement to Help Community Leaders Assist in Religious Life

NEW YORK—Forty-five lay leaders from across North America will spend five days this month learning to conduct a baby naming, a funeral, and many other skills in between when they travel to Warwick, NY, for the Reform Movement’s Seminar for Lay Leadership in Religious Life.

This year’s Had’rachah seminar teaches teach lay leaders a variety of skills to help them support communal worship, life-cycle events and educational opportunities in their communities.

“For nearly two decades the Reform Movement has provided religious training for its lay leadership, especially for those in small congregations,” said Rabbi Sue Ann Wasserman, director of the Department of Worship, Music and Religious Living. “This program is a continuation of that tradition. The Had’rachah Seminar will teach synagogue skills, such as leading worship, officiating at funerals and leading torah study. The lay leaders then return to their communities, where they can help to build and sustain Reform Jewish life in smaller and developing communities and support the work of their clergy in larger congregations.”

The seminar will be taught by the Reform Movement’s top leadership from both Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Union for Reform Judaism. Notable on Friday May 11, the group will focus on the Jewish rituals surrounding death and loss. The seminar participants will spend time studying the customs of mourning, writing eulogies, and will conclude the day with a funeral simulation.

“This simulation of Jewish funeral service allowing the participants to walk thought the ritual in a safe, non-pressured environment,” said Rabbi Wasserman. “This is what much of the week-long study program is about, learning in order to do. Everything the participants will study has a practical application in congregational life.”

The seminar will also travel to New York City on Monday the 13th and Tuesday the 14th for sessions at Union for Reform Judaism’s offices and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion campus.

For more information please visit

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, D.C.


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