Ambassador Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation, will receive Reform Judaisms highest honor at the 2011 Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) Biennial convention on Thursday morning, December 15.
Ambassador Brinker will receive the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award for Service to the World Community. Named in memory of Rabbi Maurice N. Eisendrath, the executive director and President of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations from 1943 1973, this award is the highest honor bestowed by the Reform Movement.
Every two years at the URJ Biennial, the Maurice N. Eisendrath Bearer of Light Award is conferred in two categories: Service to Reform Jewry and Service to the World Community. Rabbi Richard Hirsch, who has been called the architect of Reform Zionism and the world-wide movement for Progressive Judaism, will receive the Eisendrath Award for Service to Reform Jewry.
Nancy G. Brinker is regarded as the leader of the global breast cancer movement. Her journey began with a promise to her dying sister, Susan G. Komen, that she would do everything possible to end the shame, pain, fear and hopelessness caused by this disease. In one generation, the organization that bears Susans name has changed the world.
Brinker founded Susan G. Komen for the Cure in 1982 which is now the world's largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures.
Brinkers creativity in raising awareness led to programs that at the time were revolutionary: In 1983, she founded the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, which is now the worlds largest and most successful education and fundraising event for breast cancer. She also pioneered cause-related marketing, allowing millions to participate in the fight against breast cancer through businesses that share Komens commitment to end the disease forever. Susan G. Komen for the Cures unwavering advocacy for breast cancer survivors led to new legislation and greater government research funding. To date, virtually every major advance in breast cancer research has been touched by hundreds of millions of dollars in Komen for the Cure funding.
"Few people in our society have had the impact of Ms. Brinker, said URJ President Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie. She began with a single caring act and then created a mechanism that literally has changed our world and the lives of millions of people. She exemplifies the values of caring, compassion, and mentshlikeit that are at the heart of Jewish tradition. We are proud to bestow upon her Reform Judaism's highest honor."
The URJ Biennial is the largest Jewish denominational gathering in North America and brings together nearly 5,000 people from hundreds of congregations. Reform Jews from URJ affiliated congregations including lay leaders and professionals, youth, congregants, and clergy, are invited to learn, pray, share ideas, and make decisions about the policies of the Reform Movement. The Biennial will take place Dec. 14-18, 2011 at the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center in the greater Washington, DC area.
Highlights for the 2011 Biennial will include the votes on resolutions that will shape and inform the direction of the Reform Movement for the next two years, the largest Shabbat dinner in the world, an education summit on youth engagement, inspirational live music concerts, inspiring Torah study, learning lounges, tours of the local area and more. Participants will also hear from top-notch speakers including President Barack Obama, Natan Sharansky, Dr. Wendy Mogel, William Kristol and Ann Lewis.
This Biennial will be the last for outgoing URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie, after serving the Union for the past 16 years. The gathering will also be the first opportunity for President-elect Rabbi Rick Jacobs to address the larger Movement. In addition, there will be celebrations marking the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaisms 50th anniversary and a tribute to one of the Reform Movements icons, Debbie Friedman (z"l). The Biennial is also when the General Assemblythe delegate body of congregational representatives will determine the direction and actions that the URJ will take in the coming two years.