Inside Leadership

Inside Leadership
Rabbi Rick Jacobs addresses the URJ Biennial plenary on stage behind a podium
Daryl Mesinger speaking from the stage at the URJ Biennial podium
Rabbi Rick Jacobs addresses the URJ Biennial plenary on stage behind a podium

Did you ever wonder what happened to the 10 Lost Tribes of ancient Israel? In 721 B.C.E., they disappeared. Poof. Gone.

Imagine if we could find them today? Our Jewish community could increase to as many as 85 million worldwide. We’d need all of Chicago for our Biennial!

But demographers tell us that our numbers are not likely to grow in the next 50 years; that, in fact, our numbers shrinking. And some Jewish leaders don’t care.

They think that though the Jewish future may be numerically smaller, it will be made up of a more intensely engaged few, and that’s OK....

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  Photo by Andre Chungfor The Washington Post of TaNehisi Coates who wrote The Case for Reparations

Americans in general and faith groups in particular increasingly find ourselves reckoning with our nation’s bigoted history and struggling with how to dismantle the racist systems and structures that persist to this day. As the largest Jewish denomination in the United States, it’s time for the Reform movement to join this conversation. It’s time for us to talk reparations.

When I first read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ groundbreaking article "The Case for Reparations," I...

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Daryl Mesinger speaking from the stage at the URJ Biennial podium

Editor's note: The text that follows was presented before a live audience at the 2019 URJ Biennial on Thursday, Dec. 12.

My friends, I know there is plenty about the world today that may divide us, that we might fear, but what do all of us gathered here have in common? Let me suggest one, deceptively simple answer: We Love Being Jewish.     

A URJ Camp Newman tradition was for campers to climb to the huge Star of David at the top of a hill at our Porter Creek site and shout, "We love being Jewish!" Miraculously, that...

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Cantor Barbara Ostfeld smiles on stage as she accepts her award

Editor's note: The text that follows was presented before a live audience at the 2019 URJ Biennial on Wednesday, Dec. 11 as Cantor Barbara Ostfeld, the first woman to be ordained as a cantor, was presented with the 2019 Debbie Friedman Award for Contributions to Jewish Music. 

Cantor Claire FrancoPresident, American Conference of Cantors

Etz Chayim Hi l’machazikim ba. It is my distinct honor to offer congratulations to Barbara Ostfeld, as the president of the American Conference of Cantors, as her colleague and as her friend. Barbara truly is...

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Sheldon Cole stands on the URJ Biennial stage as he presents his Biennial address

Editor's note: The text that follows was presented before a live audience at the 2019 URJ Biennial on Wednesday, Dec. 11 as Sheldon Cole of Vancouver, BC, shared his Jewish story with convention attendees. 

So how did I get here? At this podium? Today?

I grew up in a secular Jewish home. No bar mitzvah, no Hebrew school, and other than my wedding, no synagogue. My father was pro-social justice – but staunchly secular.

I myself had no interest in being a member of any congregation. However, in the 1980s, we joined Temple Sholom...

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About Inside Leadership

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