First-Ever Online "Introduction to Judaism" Class from Reform Movement

Contact: Lauren Theodore, 212-650-4154 

New York, NY; February 8, 2017 — The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the largest, most diverse Jewish movement in North America, launches a new online Introduction to Judaism class, filling a significant need in the North American community for individuals who want to explore liberal Judaism but have no in-person opportunities to study.

The URJ’s Introduction to Judaism explores the modern take on liberal Jewish beliefs and practices. The URJ’s online class was created in response to the many inquiries from potential students who reside in areas where Introduction to Judaism classes are not offered or who do not live close to a Reform congregation.

The online Introduction to Judaism class, like the in-person class, is designed for individuals and couples from Jewish and various faith and cultural backgrounds who want to gain a deeper understanding of Jewish life through a Reform prism. The inclusive class is perfect for interfaith couples, seekers who had no religious upbringing who want to gain a deeper understanding of Jewish life, those raising Jewish children, individuals interested in conversion, and Jews who want a meaningful adult Jewish learning experience.

“On average, ReformJudaism.org has 2 million annual users; some of the users submit frequent queries to “Ask Your Jewish Question,” many by people who genuinely want to learn about Reform Judaism in a deeper way but have no local resource for making connections. Now we can reach people where they are, satisfying the thirst for Jewish learning and strengthening the Jewish community,” said Rabbi Leora Kaye, URJ’s Director of Program.

“The integrity of the program parallels in-person classes with a focus on interactive study, reflection, and relationship-building. With technology now enabling us to provide online learners a meaningful and robust chance to spend time together as a group, far-flung students can develop genuine bonds with each other and with me,” said Cantor Ellen Dreskin, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Cantorial Certification Program Coordinator, and the instructor for the online pilot class.

“With equal measures of scholarship and creativity, Cantor Dreskin makes Jewish learning a deeply fulfilling and joyous experience. She inspires meaningful, authentic connections to a Judaism that is inclusive, open, and vibrant,” said April Baskin, URJ’s Vice President of Audacious Hospitality. 

Whereas the class is not an online conversion program, for some students from various faith and cultural backgrounds, the class may be one step in their conversion journey.

Registration is open now, and the class will begin in March. Participants can register for one or all three seven-week trimesters. Introduction to Judaism is managed by Frieda Hershman Huberman.  

The online Introduction to Judaism class will use live class-time, resources, readings, shared videos, small-group discussion, and online forums to explore a variety of relevant perspectives on Judaism’s pillars, history, values, and customs. Each trimester begins with an exploration of “big ideas,” followed by the way in which these ideas are manifest in daily Jewish life.

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About the Union for Reform Judaism

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.