Since its founding in 19th-century Germany, the Reform Movement has embraced modernity, incorporating innovation into all facets of Jewish tradition, education, and life. Reform Judaism’s commitment to social justice for all – women, people with disabilities, and, indeed, people from all faiths and backgrounds who lack civil and human rights – is a key pillar of the movement, contributing to its popularity among North America’s Jews.
The Reform Jewish Movement comprises nearly 850 congregations in the U.S. and Canada, more than 1,200 congregations worldwide, and the organizations and institutions that support the lay leaders, clergy, and Jewish professionals among its ranks. Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform Movement’s North American seminary, is the first and largest Jewish seminary on the continent, with four campuses in the United States and Israel. In addition to ordaining rabbis and cantors, HUC-JIR and its Reform counterparts in Germany and the U.K. also train Jewish educators, nonprofit professionals, and pastoral counselors.
The Reform Jewish Movement in North America offers:
- Membership in professional associations and employee pension programs for its clergy, educators, and other professionals;
- The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (“the RAC”), a 501(c)3 non-profit advocacy center in Washington, D.C., that educates and mobilizes American Jewry on legislative and social concerns;
- A vast summer camp system, including 11 regional overnight camps, as well as a science/technology specialty camp, two sports camps, a teen leadership camp, and a day camp;
- A network of temple youth groups for Jewish teenagers in grades six through 12;
- Travel, study, and work programs in Israel for Jewish teenagers and young adults; and
- National, regional, and local leadership development conferences and events for teens and adults;
- Centralized fundraising for specialized Israel initiatives and worldwide disaster relief efforts,
Congregational membership in the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the umbrella organization for North American Reform Judaism, provides access to these and other offerings available from the larger, global Reform Movement.