Furthering Reform Judaism Around the World


Each year, the number of member congregations of the World Union for Prog ressive Judaism, and the number of countries in which they are found, con tinues to increase. The growth of our movement can be seen in more than 30 countries of the world and is particularly dynamic in areas such as Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Moreover, recent years have brought dramatic changes in politics and geography that enhance opportunities for Progressive Judaism.

The Union of American Hebrew Congregations is, by far, the largest and most developed of the World Union constituents, with more congregational members than the rest of the world combined. As such, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and its member congregations have a special stake in the future of the international movement. As we face a new century, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations has a special responsibility to assume a leadership role. We must act to share and help in making Reform Judaism a reality throughout the Diaspora and in Israel.

Although some World Union congregations are part of strong, well-organized communities such as Great Britain and Australia, many are newly organized synagogues or are located in remote or isolated areas. These congregations require sifrei Torah, ritual items, educational publications, and day-to-day school and general supplies.

By far, the most pressing need is for Jewishly educated leadership. Local rabbinic leadership is essential for the survival and growth of such con gregations and their communities. While a few rabbinic students from some of these communities are now attending progressive seminaries in the United States, Great Britain and Israel, there is today a significant shortage of rabbis outside of North America, and this condition will persist for the foreseeable future.

At its 1995 Paris Convention, the World Union of Progressive Judaism called for the establishment of an ad hoc committee of representatives of the institutions of North American Reform Judaism to study and recommend solutions to this problem.

THEREFORE, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations resolves to:

1. Call upon its member congregations to:

a. Observe World Union Shabbat on Shabbat Sh'kalim as a celebration of the interna- tional movement;

b. Inform their members through programs and distribution of materials about Reform Judaism around the world;

c. Provide sifrei torah on short-term or permanent loan to World Union congregations outside North America; and

d. Promote and support programs and projects of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, including individual and group visits to World Union congregations, and sponsorship of special projects for congregations in need; and

2. Establish an ad hoc committee, in conjunction with the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Central Conference of American Rabbis to study ways to meet the rabbinic needs of World Union Congregations outside of North America and devise programs to encourage both recent ordinees as well as other rabbis seeking employment to accept positions with them.