Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Inside Leadership
Rabbi Allan "Smitty" Smith on the bimah at Biennial

Earlier this week, with the death of Rabbi Allan Smith, – “Smitty” to all who knew and loved him – the Reform Jewish world lost a true giant.

After beginning his work for the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ, formerly the UAHC) on the kitchen staff at a URJ camp, he quickly displayed a host of talents that led him to a career of more than three decades as the architect and builder of the URJ’s extensive youth programs, transforming the lives of generations of young people. He also served for many years as the beloved rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Honesdale, PA.

As the...

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Person holding a sign that reads REFORM JEWS WELCOME IMMIGRANTS

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, presented this sermon at Westchester Reform Temple on Rosh HaShanah morning 5780 

Take a deep breath.

This won’t be easy.

We need to face something so odious that we will try to avert our eyes. But we must not.

I want us to take a long, hard look at one migrant family. They’ve traveled a long way, hoping to reach a land of safety, a better life, but the child that is at the center of their every hope may not live another day.

Before I describe the migrant families I met on my recent trip...

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Open palm outstretched to golden fall leaves and sunshine

In Hebrew, the High Holidays are called Yamim Nora-im, often translated as “Days of Awe,” because we stand in awe before the Holy One and the eternal questions we are summoned to consider. During this season, our tradition imagines the gates of forgiveness opening and with them, we hope our often hardened hearts will open as well.

In the Hebrew – “Yirah” – the root of the word “Nora-im” means “awe” but also “fear.”

For too many of us, a real fear grips us on the eve of 5780. Of course, there is the fear that comes with the dramatic rise in anti-Semitism we are witnessing in...

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Peter Knobel headshot

With the death of Rabbi Peter S. Knobel, z”l, our Reform Movement has lost a giant. A brilliant, courageous, and visionary rabbi, he served in many leadership roles, including as the longtime rabbi of Beth Emet -The Free Synagogue in Evanston, IL, where his leadership and direction were transformative for the congregation.

During his term as the president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), Peter launched the reimagination of the organization, the professional association of North America’s Reform rabbis, as we know it today.

I was privileged to serve as an...

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Interfaith leaders holding hands and marching for immigrant justice

My name is Rabbi Rick Jacobs, and I lead the Reform Jewish Movement here in North America; more than two million strong, it’s the largest and most diverse Jewish denomination on the continent. I’m joined here by Rabbi Ron Segal, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), our rabbinic arm, which numbers more than 2,000, and by dozens of rabbis, cantors, and lay leaders.

I’m here in El Paso this weekend because I worship a God who is impatient with injustice, a God who demands that migrants must not be wronged. But our obligation is so much greater. In the Book of...

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