Dear Friends, I write to you today from the Arthur & Sara Jo Kobacker building in Washington D.C., the home of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. I received the honor of a lifetime when Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, announced my appointment as the new Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. For fifty years, the RAC has been the hub of Jewish social justice and legislative activity in Washington, D.C. I have the great honor of succeeding my mentor and friend, Rabbi David Saperstein, who, for forty years, has built the RAC into a powerful force grounded in ancient Jewish values of social justice for North America and across the world. The rabbis taught that in every age we see ourselves as if we ourselves were liberated from bondage. Our work for justice is bound up in the thousands year old essence of what it means to be a Jew. The Reform Jewish Movement has been at the center of critical and successful campaigns for civil rights, equality for all people, Israel, World Jewry, and a range of other issues, because of David's remarkable leadership. The RAC has supported countless local and congregational social action efforts and tens of thousands of young people have been inspired through its educational programs. My personal connection to the RAC is deep; In fact, my wife Dana and I first met David when we attended RAC youth seminars as NFTYites more than thirty years ago. David was also instrumental when I founded Just Congregations, and with his support, we have grown it into a widely successful grass-roots complement to the work of the RAC. I look forward to building effective coalitions, which will enable the faith community to be a force for justice as we help America and the world confront some of the challenges of our age. Specifically, my vision for the RAC has three key pillars:
- Deepening our advocacy work by organizing thousands more leaders through our congregations and beyond to mobilize their communities and leverage their social networks to advance the Reform Movement’s vision for a more just society;
- Strengthening the capacity of synagogues across North America to be agents of change on a state and local level, training their leadership to effectively act on cherished shared moral values for the common good;
- Playing a central role in the Reform Movement’s Campaign for Youth Engagement, as we empower tens of thousands of young people to deepen their Jewish identity by working for Tikkun Olam.
May 18, 2023
The following blog post is adapted from the invocation given by Rabbi Jonah Pesner and remarks given by Jordan Berg-Powers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Jewish American Heritage Month event celebrating Jewish contributions to agriculture and the fight against hunger in America.
October 27, 2021
After 12 hours of storytelling and prayer at the Washington Interfaith Staff Community's Build Back Better Prayer Vigil outside the U.S. Capitol on October 20, it was clear: bold investments in our economic recovery are crucial to the livelihood of workers, children, and families in the US. To rebuild the American economy and address the structural inequities that long preceded the pandemic, Congress must pass a robust Build Back Better Act.