Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Rabbi Rick Jacobs

Inside Leadership
Children with their arms around one another facing an outdoor bimah as at summer camp

As we begin a new year at the Union for Reform Judaism, I wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate all we have accomplished together in the past 12 months. The past year was one in which community mattered — thanks to committed individuals like you, who helped organize and bring about change in your own communities. Whether sought out as a sanctuary of comfort or as a hub of activism, individuals engaged with their local congregations, young people embraced their faith and we came together to promote much-needed justice and compassion in the world. In 2017, our Movement offered a...

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs on stage with the Torah during Shabbat morning services at the URJ Biennial

This d'var Torah for Parashah Vayeishev was presented before the 74th Union for Reform Judaism Biennial convention on Saturday, December 9. 

Vayeishev, our Torah portion, is ominous. In the opening verses, Joseph’s tense relationship with his brothers disintegrates. In a matter of hours, rivalry becomes hatred. The brothers strip him of his tunic and throw Joseph into a pit. Ready to leave him there to die but later changing their minds, they choose instead to sell him into slavery for a few silver coins. We’re left stunned, wondering how our tribal ancestors could conduct...

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Rabbi Rick Jacobs speaking in front of a blue and white Union for Reform Judaism banner

This address was presented before the 74th Union for Reform Judaism Biennial convention on Thursday, December 7. You can also download and print a PDF of this speech, read our fact sheet on the new sexual harassment policies announced within it, and read our press release about the newly launched RJ Connect initiative.

Before we even had the world, we had water.

In just the second sentence of the Torah, we learn that in the earliest hours of time the presence of God hovered over the surface of the water.

It is life itself.

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Hands of people of different races holding up a globe

In the spring of 2017, I joined nearly 800 Reform Jews gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Religious Action Center's flagship social justice conference, the Consultation on Conscience. Held in alternating years, this Consultation featured leaders and activists, as well as workshops geared toward congregational social justice leaders. It also marked a significant – and important – shift in our Movement's social justice work with the launch of the North American Brit Olam.

Tikkun olam, world repair, has served as a pillar of our Movement from the beginning. The Brit Olam – a...

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Gavel and sound block

The Union for Reform Judaism's (URJ) 2017 Biennial is less than two months away. When we gather in Boston – December 6-10 – one of our most important responsibilities will be to consider critical resolutions that will shape the future of our movement. That crucial work will culminate in Boston -- but before then, every congregation has a vital role to play.

For more than a century, resolutions have given voice to the URJ’s positions on domestic and international concerns, from Israel to civil rights, from inclusion of people with disabilities to principles of economic justice, and...

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