September 12, 2012, New York, NY -- Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), will serve as the scholar-in-residence at The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA)'s 2012 General Assembly, the largest annual gathering of the North American Jewish community.
Rabbi Jacobs was recently named the fourth president of the URJ and previously served as spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) in Scarsdale, N.Y. During his 20-year tenure at WRT, he reshaped communal worship, transformed the congregation into a community of learners and strengthened temple's commitment to social justice and inclusion.
The GA co-chairs, Linda A. and Steve Hurwitz and Genine and Josh Fidler, all of Baltimore, noted that the addition of Jacobs will add meaningful Jewish context to the GA program, and enrich the learning environment for conference participants.
"We are thrilled to have Rabbi Rick Jacobs as our scholar-in-residence at the GA," said Josh Fidler. "Rabbi Jacobs is known for bold thinking and big ideas, as well as concrete action in support of humanitarian values. We look forward to his insight and spiritual leadership throughout the GA."
Thousands of Jews from across North America and around the world will gather later this year in Baltimore for the GA, which takes place November 11-13. The conference will convene the Jewish community to network, conceive new ideas and examine the issues facing the Jewish philanthropic world.
"I am deeply honored to participate in this year's General Assembly and to be a part of such a distinguished group of leaders from the Jewish community," said Rabbi Jacobs. "This conference continually offers such a powerful opportunity for our community to connect around the critical challenges and opportunities of the day."
Ordained in 1982 by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in New York, Rabbi Jacobs spent three decades as a congregational rabbi. Prior to his tenure at WRT, Rabbi Jacobs served the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where he founded and co-directed the first synagogue-based homeless shelter in New York City. Deeply committed to Israel, Rabbi Jacobs is a senior rabbinic fellow at Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, where he has studied for two decades. A product of the Reform Movement, he has held numerous leadership posts within its institutions, as well as in Jewish communal organizations including AJWS, UJA-Federation of New York, and Synagogue 3000. Rabbi Jacobs was installed as president of the URJ in June 2012.
"We are delighted to have Rabbi Jacobs join a wonderful group of General Assembly speakers who will challenge, inspire and motivate us," said Kathy Manning, chair of the Board of Trustees of JFNA. "As our scholar-in-residence, Rabbi Jacobs will be a powerful and compelling addition to our conference."
For more than 80 years, the GA has served as the premier North American Jewish communal event and the annual signature event for Jewish Federations, their partners and the global Jewish community. Recent past speakers have included Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Vice President Joe Biden; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak; Israeli President Shimon Peres; Israel's former leader of the opposition, Knesset Member Tzipi Livni; and former IDF and government spokesperson Col. (Res.) Miri Eisin.
To learn more about the 2012 GA and to register for the event, please visit GeneralAssembly.org.