What is Audacious Hospitality?
Audacious Hospitality is the focused effort on racial diversity, equity, and inclusion (REDI) work.
The URJ acknowledges that due to racism, ableism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression, that our communities are not whole until everyone experiences a sense of belonging within the Jewish community. As a movement, we stand for a Judaism that is inclusive and reflective of a wide range of identities and accept the responsibility of dismantling oppression both inside and outside of our communities.
Audacious Hospitality is a transformative spiritual practice rooted in the belief that we will be a stronger, more vibrant Jewish community when we fully incorporate the diversity that is the reality of modern Jewish life. We believe that there is more than one authentic way to be Jewish and acknowledge that our diversity is an essential component to making our communities whole.
Audacious Hospitality is continually updating our resources, strategies, and ways we hold ourselves accountable. In addition, we continue to create new innovative and strategic initiatives as we work to deepen our impact and expand our reach. Examples of our current work include:
- Audacious Hospitality Resources: Original publications of the Audacious Hospitality department provide comprehensive educational resources, including our Assessment, Toolkit, and a variety of one-page resources.
- JewV’Nation Fellowship: This leadership development program serves visionary Jewish leaders across North America from a wide variety of backgrounds. All of our cohorts are rooted in principles related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
- Disabilities Inclusion Learning Center: In partnership with the Ruderman Family Foundation, the learning center offers resources to for Reform professionals to develop additional skills, strategies, and understanding to make possible the full participation of people with disabilities in congregational and communal life.
- Introduction to Judaism and Taste of Judaism: Existing initiatives of the URJ offering formal introduction to Judaism classes. Submit your classes to promote to perspective students.
- Belin Awards: The biannual Belin Awards honor congregations of all sizes that have developed innovative and effective Audacious Hospitality programs. Check back in 2021 for more information about the next application cycle!
How is Audacious Hospitality Different from Previous URJ Initiatives?
When Rabbi Alexander Schindler created the "Reform Jewish Outreach" initiative in the 1970s, the then-Union of American Hebrew Congregations heeded his call and began to listen to the needs of those in our communities who were not being heard – individuals who were considering becoming Jewish, and couples who were in love and did not see conversion as an option, but who were considering raising Jewish families. We asked them to tell us about the barriers they experienced, to tell us what made them feel welcome and what made them feel distant, and what we could do to bring them closer.
Through this collaborative process we learned a great deal, much of which provides the foundation for the work of Audacious Hospitality today.
While the Reform Movement has historically and proudly stood for justice and continues to address various forms of oppression in the world at large, we also see the need and often overlooked imperative to address oppression within our communities. This includes decentralizing dominant white culture and reflecting a wider range of identities within our Jewish spaces. Only when we can recognize and reflect the actual diversity of our Movement will we succeed in engaging more groups of people who are often unrepresented and under-served in Jewish communal and institutional spaces, transforming our communities into spaces of belonging for all who wish to call them home.
Jewish populations such as Jews by choice and those exploring Judaism, Jews of Color, LGBTQ+ Jews, Jews who live with physical, mental, or intellectual disabilities, multiracial families, millennials, the aging Jewish population, Jews who are unaffiliated and uninspired by Jewish communal offerings, and the evolving needs of interfaith and intermarried couples and families, requires our focused attention.
With this history and our current Audacious Hospitality practices, we now have a fuller understanding of the need to transform our communities. It is our goal, through Audacious Hospitality, to build on our historical success and continue to strengthen the Reform movement and North American Jewry.
This is the place to access webinars, videos, and written resources from top professionals, interact with experts, and consult other congregations and Reform Movement staff members on involving people with disabilities and their families.