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New York, NY; September 14, 2016 -- Seeking to both expand and enrich its Israel programs and activities, the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) has hired one of the most renowned Israel educators as Director of Israel Engagement -- Rabbi Reuven Greenvald. Rabbi Greenvald will work together with URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the URJ’s Israel-based partners, and the entire staff and leadership. He will be a member of the URJ Youth staff team led by Vice President of Youth Miriam Chilton, and will be based in the URJ’s New York City offices.
Rabbi Greenvald will enhance Israel education and engagement work throughout the URJ’s broad Israel portfolio, working to ensure the Reform Movement’s greatest impact on matters of the deepest importance to North American Jews and to Israel. He will help broaden URJ-wide outreach, and develop new opportunities for connecting to and with Israel across the URJ’s current and new audiences.
With a specific focus on the URJ’s Youth programming – with 60 immersive programs reaching more than 23,000 youth, teens and young adults – Rabbi Greenvald will expand and deepen all Israel work related to NFTY, the Reform Jewish youth movement, and the URJ’s 16 summer camps, including the extensive shlichim program enabling hundreds of Israelis each year to make meaningful connections with North American Reform Jewish youth, youth educators, rabbis, and cantors. Rabbi Greenvald will help steward the URJ Roswell Klal Yisrael Fellowship for global leadership development and the URJ Roswell Lech Lecha Fellowship for congregational shlichim with Rachel Brill. Working closely with the leadership of ARZA, and other Reform Movement partners, he will help coordinate activity in this critical area.
“Reuven is the exactly the right person to take on this critical role,” said URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs, adding “he is widely seen as one of North America’s leading Israel educators, and his knowledge of and dedication to Israel will be invaluable to every part of the URJ’s wide and deep Israel engagement efforts.”
“URJ Youth’s Israel opportunities enable more young Jews every year to cultivate firsthand a steadfast and lifelong love of Israel,” said URJ Vice President of Youth Miriam Chilton. “Rabbi Greenvald’s extensive expertise and relationships will help us elevate every aspect of our Israel engagement work, as we continue to expand both our presence in Israel and the ways we encourage a love of Israel here in North America. Israel engagement is fundamental to our work of inspiring the next generation to embrace Jewish life as a path to meaning, purpose, and joy.”
“I am deeply honored to be part of the dedicated and thoughtful URJ team, and to collaborate with the entire Reform Movement so that its Israel engagement vision and programs continue to promote renewed commitment to inspired Jewish life,” said Rabbi Greenvald.
“Reuven is a creative, resourceful, and caring colleague. He is intellectually sharp, professionally sophisticated, and organisationally astute. He shares his passions for honest engagement with Israel and Jewish life with human beings in wonderfully sensitive ways. Kudos to URJ for tapping the best,” said Yonatan Ariel, Executive Director of Makom, an initiative of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
Rabbi Greenvald joins the URJ after serving as Director of Israeli Engagement in a joint program of HUC-JIR (NY) and the Jewish Theological Seminary, spearheading a new initiative to integrate Israel engagement into the pre-professional training for future Jewish leaders. He served for over eight years at the Jewish Agency for Israel, first as Director of Community Initiatives (Makom), and then as Director of Strategic Outreach. He developed content, tools, consultancy models, and strategies that address the need for dynamic and nuanced Israel engagement in North America.
Rabbi Greenvald has an extensive background in both formal and informal education, including serving as Upper School Principal, at the Charles E. Smith Community Day School in Rockville, MD. His experience includes extensive consulting work with the Melton Research Center for Jewish Education and the Avi Chai Foundation.
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.
Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.
Visit us at www.URJ.org to learn about our social justice initiatives, camps and programs for young Jews, services for congregations and communities, and how you can work with us to create a more just, whole, and compassionate world. Enjoy related content at ReformJudaism.org and connect with URJ on Twitter and Facebook.