New York, NY; December 18, 2018 – The leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism today offered their enthusiastic support for the election of Dr. Andrew Rehfeld as the 13th president of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs noted:
In its remarkable 143-year history, there have been only 12 presidents of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). The announcement today of the election of Dr. Andrew Rehfeld as the 13th president ushers in an exciting new era for the College-Institute. We are so pleased and energized to see HUC-JIR entering this new chapter of its history with boldness, vision, and a clear commitment to excellence.
Andrew brings so much to the College-Institute. He’s a visionary Jewish leader, an influential scholar, and a powerful voice for pluralism in the North American Jewish community. He knows how to lead a complex institution, and he knows how to inspire individuals. Anyone who has heard him song-lead knows he possesses spiritual passion that is also at the heart of his leadership.
As HUC-JIR, and the entire Jewish community, strives to reach the majority of North American Jews who have yet to connect meaningfully to Jewish life, Andrew brings successful experience doing just that in St. Louis. Much has changed since the 19th century, when the Hebrew Union College was founded to provide leadership for the then-nascent Reform Movement. What has not changed is the need for visionary and bold leadership. I am confident that Andrew is exactly the right person to lead HUC-JIR in smartly adapting to the new landscape of 21st-century Jewish life.
I look forward to working closely with President Rehfeld in shaping a bright future for our movement.
Daryl Messinger, Chair of the URJ’s North American Board, added:
Dr. Rehfeld is a lifelong, dedicated Reform Jew with deep roots at our camps and congregations. He understands the power and diversity of our movement, and appreciates the important role congregations can, and must, play in the future.
I know that every single member of our North American Board was stirred by Dr. Rehfeld’s powerful Shabbat morning teaching during our meeting in St. Louis in 2016. The themes he sounded then – the embrace of Reform Judaism's commitment to reason and critical inquiry, the importance of involving our entire community in the work of building our future, and the clarion call to reach out to the unaffiliated in our communities and reduce barriers to their participation in Jewish life – only ring truer today.
I am sure these topics will also serve to inspire an agenda for the College-Institute in this new chapter. I look forward to continuing to partner with him and the College-Institute as we further strengthen Jewish life.
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.
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