Reform Movement Responds to Kotel Plan – URJ

This is very important.  Sunday word of the Mandelblit Commission’s plan was leaked to the press. This was a commission appointed by PM Netanyahu in Israel to follow up on the grand compromise arrived at by Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency and Diaspora Jewish leaders on prayer at the Kotel, the symbol of Jewish Unity.  But the Mandelblit plan pushed forward by Cabinet member Naftali Bennett would decimate the grand Compromise achieved and the delicate balance.  Click below to see the unified Reform Movement Response… As a result of Reform Movement outcry and other groups-the Prime Minister announced that no conclusions have been reached.  Seems like a slight delay in announcing their plan.


Reform Movement Responds to Kotel Plan – URJ.

Can you spare a dime?

Hurricane Sandy made herself known.  But it will take a lot more than dimes to help put the east coast back together again.

After several days people are still without power and food and gasoline.  Even as the power companies race to put the electric power back on line.  It is cold at night.  Shelters are full. And many have no homes to return to.  There are still numerous downed trees that make travel difficult that is if you can find any gasoline to keep your car going.

So we who are so fortunate must spare a dime and more.  Time to give.

Please consider making a donation to the Union for Reform Judaism Hurricane Relief fund.  There are no administrative fees and every dime goes to people and institutions doing direct disaster relief!

Please help today!

Reform Movement Applauds Decision of the 9th Circuit

Court Ruling Strikes Down Proposition 8 in Narrow Decision; Important Step Forward

Rabbis Rick Jacobs and Jonathan Stein: While the decision is narrow, it is nonetheless an important step forward in the achievement of marriage equality.

Contact: Sean Thibault or Noah Baron
202.387.2800 |

Washington, D.C. February 7th, 2012 – In response to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Perry v. Brown challenging California’s Proposition 8, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Jonathan Stein, President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, issued the following statement:

“We commend the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional. While the decision is narrow, it is nonetheless an important step forward in the achievement of marriage equality. As the purveyor of civil marriage, government should embrace an inclusive definition of marriage that establishes equality for all couples, regardless of the sex of the people involved.

“Our holy texts teach us that all people are created b’tselem Elohim (in the Divine image) (Gen. 1:27), and as such are entitled to be treated with dignity and respect. We are inspired by our faith and history to stand up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans, for we have known the experience of being victims of group hatred, persecution, and discrimination. We feel a keen empathy for those who can still be victimized, deprived of opportunities, including the opportunity to marry, because of their identity.

“We welcome today’s ruling and move forward with renewed resolve as we work toward the day when all Americans will be able to marry the person that they love.”

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit for mor

Virtual Biennial

I am sad that I am not able to join the over 6000 colleagues, lay leaders and friends in Washington, D.C. this week for the Union for Reform Judaism Biennial.   I haven’t missed a Biennial since the 1980’s!   I was registered to go but we had to scale back our travel and convention lines of the Kol Ami budget.  It is tough times out there for people and for synagogues.

But now you can join with me virtually!  Here is a schedule for all of the broadcasts of the Biennial including Shabbat services which are always inspiring and rousing!  Remember the times are Eastern Standard Time.  Click on this link to log in!  And watch the main sessions over the next week!  I know it will inspire you.  Even President Obama will be speaking on Friday!

Live and Recorded Webcasts

This year all of the plenary sessions and forums will be available for viewing via online webcasts on this page. Tune in to watch! The following noted sessions will be streamed live; the others will be available as soon as possible, within hours.

Wednesday Evening 8:15–10:15 P.M. Welcome to DC Plenary

  • Call to Order: Peter J. Weidhorn, Chairman, Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees, Temple Shaari Emeth, Manalapan, NJ
  • Welcome:
    • Carole Sterling, 2011 Biennial Chair, Holy Blossom Temple, Toronto, ON; Edward Burger, 2011 Biennial Vice Chair, Congregation B’nai Israel, Bridgeport, CT.
    • Co-Chairs, 2011 Local Arrangements Committee Kathy Goldgeier, Temple Beth Ami, Rockville, MD; Lauren Racoosin, Washington Hebrew Congregation, Washington, DC; Chuck Thornton, Temple Rodef Shalom, Fairfax, VA
  • Presentation of Credentials: Charles Rothschild, Chair, Union for Reform Judaism Credentials Committee, Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA
  • Nominations and Elections for At-large Representatives to the Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees and MUM Committee:
    • Robert M. Heller, Former Board of Trustees Chair and Nominating Committee Chair, Union for Reform Judaism, Central Synagogue, New York, NY
    • Peter J. Weidhorn, Chairman, Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees
  • Since the Last Biennial: Rabbi Daniel Freelander, Senior Vice President, Union for Reform Judaism
  • Remarks: Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism
  • Keynote: The Blessing of a B Minus
    • Introduction: Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President-elect, Union for Reform Judaism
    • Speaker: Dr. Wendy Mogel, Best-selling author
  • Address: Natan Sharansky
    • Introduction: Rabbi Robert Orkand, President, ARZA The Reform Israel Fund
    • Speaker: Natan Sharanksy, Chairman,

    Jewish Agency for Israel

  • Tribute to Debbie Friedman (z”l) andPresentation of the Inaugural Debbie Friedman Award for Contributions to Jewish Music to Theodore Bikel
  • Musical Presentation: Kol B’seder

Thursday Morning 8:45–10:15 A.M. Joint Plenary

  • Musical Presentation: Julie Silver
  • Welcome: Peter J. Weidhorn, Chairman, Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees
  • Keynote
    • Introduction: Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Washington, DC
    • Speaker: Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA), U.S. House Majority Leader
  • Presentation of the Maurice N. Eisendrath “Bearer of Light” Award to Ambassador Nancy Brinker
    • Presentation: Lynn Magid Lazar, President, Women of Reform Judaism, Temple Sinai, Pittsburgh, PA, Rabbi David Stern, Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX
    • Acceptance: Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Founder, Susan G. Komen for the Cure®
  • Presentation of the Maurice N. Eisendrath “Bearer of Light” Award to Rabbi Richard Hirsch
    • Presentation: Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism, Natan Sharanksy, Chairman, Jewish Agency for Israel
    • Acceptance: Rabbi Richard Hirsch, Honorary Life President of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and Founding Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Thursday Afternoon Forums 2:00 – 3:30 PM
Campaign for Youth Engagement: Committing to the Jewish Future

Please participate with us as we launch the Campaign for Youth Engagement, a Movement-wide strategic commitment to successfully engage a majority of Reform Jewish youth by the year 2020.

Join Rabbis Rick JacobsJonah PesnerEric Yoffie, and Peter Weidhorn (URJ), Rabbi David Ellenson, President (HUC-JIR), Wayne Firestone, President (Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life) and Forrest Yesnes, President (NFTY) along with the leadership of ACC, CCAR, ECE-RJ, MRJ, NATA, NATE, PARDeS, and WRJ for this dynamic and interactive forum. Learn how to take action in your congregation and be part of this historic moment when we come together to commit to the Jewish future.

The People Demand Social Justice: A New Era in the Pursuit of Social Justice and Equal Rights in the Jewish State

Gilad Kariv and Anat HoffmanThis summer, hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets in an unprecedented series of protests focusing on social justice. Have we reached a tipping point on these issues? IMPJ Director, Rabbi Gilad Kariv, and IRAC Director, Anat Hoffman, on the current status of Israeli-Arabs, progressive Jews and other minorities in Israeli society.


Liberalism, Conservatism: Which Better Furthers Jewish Values and Jewish Interests?

David Saperstein and Bill KristolRabbi David Saperstein, Director of the RAC, and William Kristol, Editor of theWeekly Standard and television commentator, will debate different approaches, discuss which provide the best paths to achieving the goals of Jewish values and security, and explore where we can find common ground.

The Changing Landscape of Jewish Life and Its Implications for Reform Judaism: Two Views

Len Saxe and Steve CohenWhat are the key socio-cultural changes in Jewish life, and what do they mean for the future of the Jewish community and Reform Judaism? Leonard Saxe, of Brandeis University, and Steven M. Cohen, of HUC-JIR, will discuss their different takes on these pivotal issues in what is sure to be an engaging and lively conversation.

Thursday Evening 8:15–10:15 P.M. Plenary

  • Musical Presentation: Six13
  • Recognizing Award Winning Congregations: Belin Outreach Awards, Epstein Communicate! Awards, Nachshon Awards, Irving J. Fain Awards
  • Presentation of the Maurice N. Eisendrath “Bearer of Light” Award to David Boies and Ted Olson
  • Focus on Future Leaders Remarks: Wayne Firestone, President, Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life
  • EIE Celebrates 50 Years
  • Keynote Address:
    • Introduction: Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President-elect, Union for Reform Judaism
    • Speaker: The Honorable Ehud Barak, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense
  • Resolutions Debate: Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman, Chair, URJ Resolutions Committee, Congregation B’nai Israel, Sacramento, CA

Friday afternoon- 12:45–3:00 P.M. Plenary

  • Musical Presentation: Josh Nelson Project
  • Chairman’s Address
    • Introduction: Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President, Union for Reform Judaism
    • Remarks: Peter J. Weidhorn, Chairman, Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees
  • Campaign for Youth Engagement Kickoff Presentation: Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of Presidential Transition, Union for Reform Judaism
  • The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism: Celebrating 50 Years of Social Justice Leadership
  • Keynote Address: The Honorable Barack Obama, President of the United States

Friday evening- 6:15–7:15 P.M. Kabbalat Shabbat Service

  • Rabbi Micah Greenstein, Temple Israel, Memphis, TN
  • Cantor Jennifer Frost, B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim, Deerfield, IL

Shabbat morning- 10:00 A.M.–12:30 P.M. Morning T’filah

  • Sh’lichei Tzibur–Service Leaders Rabbi Charles Kroloff, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Emanu-El, Westfield, NJ; Cantor Martha Novick, Temple Emanu-El, Westfield, NJ;Rabbi Douglas Sagal, Temple Emanu-El, Westfield, NJ.
  • Torah Reader: Adina Yoffie, Genesis 37:1 – 11
  • Aliyah 1: Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie and his family
  • Mi ShebeirachRabbi Charles Kroloff
  • Aliyah 2: Campaign for Youth Engagement
  • Mi ShebeirachRabbi Rick Jacobs
  • Aliyah 3: New Officers/Oversight Committee
  • Mi ShebeirachRabbi Eric H. Yoffie
  • Haftarah: Cantor Barbara Ostfeld, Rabbi Jonathan Stein
  • PRESIDENTIAL SERMON: Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President Union for Reform Judaism


Sunday morning- 8:45–10:30 A.M. Closing Plenary

  • Musical Presentation:Noah Aronson
  • Incoming Chairman’s Address:
  • Introduction:Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President,Union for Reform Judaism
  • Remarks: Stephen Sacks, Chairman-elect, Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees, Temple Shalom, Chevy Chase, MD
  • A New Vision for a New Era Presentation: Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President-elect, Union for Reform Judaism, and members of the Transition Team
  • Words of Blessing: Rabbi Eric H. YoffieRabbi David EllensonRabbi Steven FoxCantor Susan Caro
  • 2011 Biennial Retrospective
  • Looking Ahead to San Diego 2013
  • Tefilat Haderech (Traveler’s Prayer): Noah Aronson
  • Adjournment: Peter J. Weidhorn, Chairman, Union for Reform Judaism Board of Trustees

A Taste of Judaism

Are you curious about Judaism?  Ever want to know about Judaism?  Gone to a lot of  Bar Mitzvahs and been intrigued with the rituals?  Shared a Passover seder at a friend’s house and thought this was for you?  If your not Jewish yourself but thought you’d like to know more-then I will be teaching the perfect three week class for you:  A TASTE OF JUDAISM.

This is a 3 week class, Wednesday, Oct 26, November 2, and November 9 at 7 pm at Congregation Kol Ami.  However to register you must call 310 800-1161!  No walk-ins allowed.  The course is free.  It is sponsored by the Union for Reform Judaism and will answer basic questions about Judaism and Jewish life.  You can’t learn 4000 years in 3 sessions–all you can do is have a taste! But I know it will whet your appetite for more.

Come join us.  Click here for more info.




Help Us Win!

I am proud to say my blog is one of the finalists in the URJ Techie Awards.

My blog along with our congregational Twitter address @kolamila made the finals!!!!

But I need your help. Kol Ami needs your help.  Help us win!!!!

You can vote.  If you enjoy reading my blog, or have learned some Torah here, or been spurred to engage in Tikkun Olam – the repair of our world, or even disagreed with something I’ve written. VOTE!

Voting Process
Public voting will begin on December 9, 2010, and will last for 6 weeks, ending on January 14, 2011. Public votes will be combined with URJ staff final round votes to determine the winners. Winners will be announced on February 1, 2011.


Here is the link.   You can vote every day!!!! So help us win registrations to the URJ Biennial Convention in Washington, D.C. area next December 2011!