From Strength to Strength: A Transformative Moment for the Reform Movement

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion's leadership made a difficult and painful, yet necessary decision this week to sunset its Cincinnati residential rabbinical program by 2026. In the meantime, HUC-JIR will be designing an innovative, academically rigorous, low-residency rabbinical and cantorial program. The deliberations by the Board of Governors were conducted with great sensitivity to the inspiring history of HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, Ohio, which remains the birthplace of the Reform Movement in North America.

Read HUC's statement.

This is a transformative moment, and this decision, which we know has been received with concern by many in our movement, will bring significant changes. And we want to emphasize that the URJ remains committed to all of our congregations no matter where they are located or how large or small they may be.

This kind of change has been a hallmark of the Reform Movement since its founding. Our movement is built on our ability to adapt to the world around us. We are not a movement frozen in time, rather Reform Judaism evolves to meet the needs and challenges of our times. But meeting those challenges is not always easy.

The Talmud records many debates that ended with majority and minority opinions. Minority opinions mattered and were included in the sacred text affirming the validity of those arguments. So too is the intense debate over the decision to sunset the residential rabbinic program in Cincinnati. Following the thoughtful debate about a re-envisioned campus at HUC-JIR, we value the many arguments that were offered, all of which were for the sake of heaven.

As we look to the future of Reform Judaism, we are filled with optimism. Our movement does not look the same as a generation ago and has certainly evolved beyond Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise's original vision of nearly 150 years ago. What we do today will help secure our movement for future generations, who will surely wrestle with how to meet the challenges of their day, as they go from strength to strength.


Rabbi Rick Jacobs
URJ President

Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman
Chair, URJ North American Board of Trustees