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Inside Leadership
Group of people smiling and dancing at the 2015 URJ Biennial
Shabbat worshippers
Large group of smiling URJ staffers and lay leaders in matching URJ tee shirts posing together at URJ spring training

The most valuable asset each of us has is time. God-willing, each day we’re given 24 hours. What do we do with it? Sometimes we invest it in exchange for money. Sometimes, the investment is for other purposes, such as volunteering.

Jewish volunteering in my life began about 10 years ago. My wife had passed away, and at the time, I did not belong to a synagogue. Then I met someone with whom I wanted to connect with on every possible level. Her synagogue, Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek in Chester, CT, was very important to her. I joined, and...

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican

Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154

This morning, Friday, May 26, 2017, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) was received in a private audience by the Holy Father Pope Francis at the Vatican. Rabbi Jacobs was at the Vatican as a leader of Religions for Peace, for their meeting on Ethics in Action 3: Migrants and Refugees.

The private one-to-one 20-minute meeting took place at the same desk in the same library in the Apostolic Palace as the meeting between Pope Francis and US...

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Two smiling middleaged women wearing kippot

Sisterhoods and women’s groups play an important role in our congregations. We are a portal into participation and engagement for many women and others, and we help support our congregations in numerous ways, including educationally, programmatically, socially, and financially. We are often the single largest constituency group in a congregation, and we can serve as a voice for many, as we often have a seat on the congregation’s board and executive committee.

With all of this in mind, it’s critical that we be team players in striving for the best for our congregations and Jewish...

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Closeup of a handshake between two men

Leaders at almost every synagogue would say their congregation strives to be a welcoming community. The challenge, of course, is how to put that into practice. Your congregation’s clergy, leadership, values, and policies set the tone for practicing audacious hospitality. Member-to-member relationships, however, will ultimately determine the welcoming culture of a community.

Ideally, welcoming guests is a sacred obligation that should be embraced by every member of the community. The reality is that, for any number of reasons, it takes real effort and intention to reach out to...

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Young teens gathered around the bimah as they look at an open Torah scroll

Is the glass half full or half empty? Often in Jewish youth engagement and education work we begin with a “scarcity mindset.” We ask ourselves, “Why aren’t participants coming to our programs?” or “Why do they drop out?” It’s an understandable mindset. After all, when you’re at an event where you’d expected to see double the number of participants, it’s easy to wonder, “Where is everyone?”

In our work with congregations, the URJ has begun to identify simple strategies for shifting our thinking to uncover the hidden successes of Jewish youth engagement and education.


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About Inside Leadership

Inside Leadership, the blog at, is a source for Reform Jewish leaders to get the latest news and though-provoking articles about Jewish communal life.