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Washington DC, September 24, 2007 - Twelve rabbis have been selected to serve on the advisory board of the Rabbi Balfour Brickner Rabbinic Seminar and Fellows Program.
The Rabbi Balfour Brickner Rabbinic Seminars and Fellows Program was established last year with a gift to the RAC from the Engelberg Foundation.
Al and Gail Engelberg, congregants and friends of the late Balfour Brickner, wanted to demonstrate their admiration for his commitment to social justice. The program is designed to help rabbis develop the background and skills they need to become social justice leaders in their congregations and communities.
“Balfour Brickner made me understand that being Jewish was simply the oldest way of being human, that true spirituality came from how we lived our lives and not how we prayed,” Al Engelberg said in his eulogy for his friend. “For Balfour, confronting the most pressing injustices in society was rooted in his spirituality, not his politics. It was easy to miss the fact that he was not trying to be politically controversial but rather to be spiritually challenging.”
Rabbi Rosalind Gold, Brickner Fellows Program Director, is heading the program. Serving on the advisory board will be:
Rabbi Amy Scheinerman (Beth Shalom Congregation of Carroll County, MD)
Rabbi Lawrence Troster (Bard College, NY)
Rabbi Michael White (Temple Sinai of Roslyn Heights, NY)
Since 1961, more than 750 rabbis and rabbinic students from all streams of Judaism have participated in periodic leadership training programs at the RAC. The new funding will enable the RAC to offer a more formal and intensive program on a regular basis every other year.
In 1961, Balfour Brickner joined the staff of the Union for Reform Judaism after ten years as founding rabbi of Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C. At the Union, Rabbi Brickner assumed the positions of Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs and Associate Director of the Commission on Social Action until 1980, when he became rabbi of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York. Even after his retirement in 1991, Rabbi Brickner remained actively involved in the issues about which he was most passionate, including advancing women’s and minority rights, promoting reproductive choice, eliminating hunger and poverty, and pursuing peace and understanding between Jews and Arabs.
Rabbi ’s Brickner’s effective leadership was based on his commitment to social justice, his knowledge of Jewish texts and his ability to inspire others to action based on Jewish values. The new program will provide a critically needed opportunity for rabbis to engage the same texts and receive intensive leadership training so they, too, can guide their communities in repairing the world.
The program, Rabbi David Saperstein notes, “will radically strengthen the ability of rabbis to fulfill Balfour’s vision of a community grounded in and inspired by the wisdom of our teachers to fight ceaselessly for justice and against inequality.
“We are so grateful for this visionary gift that will enable us to infuse the entire Jewish community with vibrant, well-prepared, and deeply committed social action leaders who can and will embody and implement the ethical mandates that motivated Rabbi Balfour Brickner.”
The Program will be directed by Rabbi Rosalind Gold, D.Min, D.D, was the Rabbiof Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation from August, 1981 - May, 2004. Prior to this position she served as the Assistant Rabbi of Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester, New York.
Rabbi Gold was ordained in 1978 from the New York campus of the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, where her major area of interest was Liturgy. In May 2001, she received her Doctor of Ministry degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.
Rabbi Gold is active in her rabbinic organization, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). She was the first woman rabbi to serve on the Placement Commission. She is the immediate past chair of the Committee on Ethics and Appeals, and a past-president of the Mid-Atlantic Region. She was co-chair of the CCAR-UAHC Joint Committee on Rabbinic Salaries, and previously served for many years as the chairperson of the CCAR Task Force on Women in the Rabbinate.
Rabbi Gold has served on the Advisory Committee for the Fairfax County Family Life Education program. She also works with Northern Virginia JACS, a support group for recovering Jewish alcoholics and their families. She is a member of the Clinical Faculty of the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, where she works as a mentor to rabbinic students.
RabbiDavid Saperstein commented, “We are so pleased to have Rabbi Gold as part of this project. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this position. Through her outstanding leadership this program will help to educate and prepare Rabbis to be advocates for Social Justice.”
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 1800 Reform rabbis.