Recapping the URJ President's Whirlwind Visit to Israel

Inside Leadership

Recapping the URJ President's Whirlwind Visit to Israel

Rabbi Rick Jacobs seated at a Women Wage Peace rally event taking selfies with other attendees

"It is imperative that we draw strength from the diversity of the Jewish people and the many ways we love and uphold the State of Israel. At a time when many among our people seek to demonize fellow Jews, may our collective study of Torah empower and embolden us to turn curses into blessings as we embrace the many authentic ways we love Israel and live Jewishly committed lives."

These are the words of Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, in an op-ed published Friday by the Jerusalem PostRead his piece "Refusing to Be Pushed Away: Reform Movement Affirms Its Zionist Core" on

Rabbi Jacobs wrote this piece while in Israel this week, where a full itinerary kept him busy throughout the trip.

He started with a visit on Thursday morning to Shaar Ha’Negev, the border kibbutzim near Gaza, on Thursday morning, where he recorded a brief Facebook Live video update from Kibbutz Be’eri. While there, he met with representatives from the region and firefighters from KKL, The Jewish National Fund, to see the devastation done to the fields by the flaming kites sent by Hamas activists and others in Gaza across to Israel. He shared with them solidarity and support from our North American Reform Jewish Movement to all the people in the region.

Following that visit, Rabbi Jacobs tweeted:

Rabbi Jacobs also met with Reform Jewish communities in the border-area kibbutzim, where residents are engaged in promoting a democratic and open Judaism that is all focused on equality and a better future for all.

He attended a rally organized by Women Wage Peace, a new group that demands politicians from Israel and the Palestinians and the Arab world get serious about bringing about a better world for all. Members include residents of the Gaza border kibbutzim.

Finally, while in Israel, Rabbi Jacobs had the opportunity to visit the Kotel with teen participants in the Reform Movement’s NFTY in Israel program, which facilitates study-abroad programs in Israel for Jewish young adults.

Rabbi Jacobs said of his trip, “It’s time for there to be a new way to give peace and justice to the people of Gaza, an end to the destructive policies and dangerous leadership of Hamas, and security to the Israelis who live nearby the Gaza border.”

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Kate (Bigam) Kaput is the digital communications manager for the Union for Reform Judaism, serving as a content manager and editor for She is a proud alumna of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Eisendrath Legislative Assistant fellowship and also served as the RAC's press secretary. A native Ohioan, Kate grew up at Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson, OH, and holds a degree in magazine journalism from Kent State University. She lives in Cleveland with her husband, Mike. 

Kate Kaput

Published: 7/02/2018

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