A LETTER FROM URJ PRESIDENT & CHAIR
"As we introduce the Union for Reform Judaism’s 2019 Annual Report . . ."
". . . it goes without saying that the world we live in today hardly resembles the one of last year. With the health and safety of our loved ones, neighbors, and community top of mind, we have replaced in-person interactions with virtual connection for everything from b'rit milah to shiva minyan. We are witness to what surely will be a long, slow, and painful economic recovery.
And we have heard and seen from so many of you that in this unprecedented moment in history, the URJ is more important than ever. As individuals seek out community, connection, meaning, and purpose, our Reform congregations are at the forefront of reimagining communal worship; our youth programs are revisioning education and engagement; and the Religious Action Center continues to lead the way to building the world we want to see.
We know that our ability to adapt at this moment in time comes from the success of our work in 2019 and prior.
Woven together by the biannual gatherings of our Movement—NFTY Convention, Consultation on Conscience, and the URJ Biennial—last year saw thousands of Reform Movement teens, activists, and congregational leaders come together to learn how to innovate, activate, and engage in new and creative ways."
"In 2019, we geared up for our campaign for the 2020 World Zionist Congress elections by creating our leadership cabinet, establishing captains in more than 250 congregations, assembling our slate of 200-plus candidates, bringing Israeli speakers on tours of our congregations, raising funds, and more. The results of this campaign were a huge success: Our 'Vote Reform' slate received a quarter of the total votes, landing in a position to lead a powerful progressive block.
Our onramps into Jewish life grew in 2019, modeling the best of inclusive, welcoming Judaism. With more online Introduction to Judaism classes, continued expansion of our JewV'Nation Fellowship, and growth of our 20s/30s initiatives, the URJ engaged thousands of individuals who previously had not been connected.
Our six RAC state projects brought together dedicated professional staff, statewide lay and clergy leadership, and congregational social justice teams working in partnership to make change on the state level. From making a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants in New York to winning an unprecedented $6 billion to ensure educational equity in Texas, we celebrate their many victories in 2019. Under their strong and agile leadership, we continue our commitment to activism and advocacy work with the 2020 Civic Engagement Campaign."
"Even as we continue to be heartbroken by the cancelation of our in-person youth programming this summer, the successes of 2019— new, experimental teen fellowships, integrated year-round youth engagement, and a re-envisioned NFTY In Israel curriculum—have set the foundation for the hundreds of virtual programs that are currently engaging thousands of Reform Jewish teens and families across North America."
"And, in 2019 we were already at the forefront of virtual Jewish engagement, with more than 3 million users visiting ReformJudaism.org and more than 14,000 congregational leaders engaging in The Tent, the URJ's communications and collaboration platform; we also saw record-breaking downloads of episodes of our three podcasts."
ReformJudaism.org provides content that describes and demonstrates the traditions and innovations of Reform Jewish life.
In 2019, ReformJudaism.org had:
3.2 million users (including 534k returning users)
4.7 million sessions with 7.4 million pageviews
"All of this is made possible through the generosity of our donors, institutional funders, and member congregations. We could not do this work without you. We especially want to thank our immediate past chair, Daryl Messinger, for her vision and leadership, which positioned the URJ for our successes throughout the past years and for those yet to come.
We look forward to the days when we can reconnect in person. In the meantime, we take comfort in knowing that because of you, the URJ will continue to build a more just, whole, and compassionate world. Now more than ever, we thank you."
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman
Chair, North American Board