September 20, 2022 - Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the appointment of Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the Religious Action Center (RAC), to the Faith-Based Security Advisory Council. The council, which consists of twenty-five of the nation's most distinguished faith leaders, will advise the secretary of homeland security on the needs of the faith community relating to security and preparedness matters.
"I am honored to have been selected to serve on this extraordinary and increasingly vital council to ensure that all people are able to worship safely in their communities," said Rabbi Pesner. "As antisemitism and other forms of hate-based violence continues to rise, the work of this council is more imperative than ever before. I look forward to collaborating with the council and Secretary Mayorkas over the coming months to build bridges between America's faith communities [while] identifying and helping those individuals and communities who need our support."
The council will provide organizationally independent, strategic, timely, specific, and actionable advice to the secretary of homeland security on diverse matters. Specifically, the council's contributions will enhance DHS's work to protect houses of worship; improve coordination and information sharing of threat information with the faith community and through the faith community in the communities they serve; increase access to DHS resources by building trust and addressing potential barriers; and prevent, protect against, respond to, and recover from acts of targeted violence, terrorism, and other threats. The council's first meeting will take place on October 6th, 2022.
Rabbi Pesner has led the RAC since 2015. Rabbi Pesner has also served as senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism since 2011. One of Newsweek magazine's most influential rabbis in America, he is an inspirational leader and tireless advocate for social justice.
Rabbi Pesner's work has focused on encouraging Jewish communities to reach across lines of race, class, and faith in campaigns for social justice. In 2006, he founded Just Congregations (now incorporated into the RAC), which engaged clergy, professional, and volunteer leaders in interfaith efforts in pursuit of social justice. Rabbi Pesner was a primary leader in the successful Massachusetts campaign for health care access that has provided health care coverage to hundreds of thousands of residents and became a nationwide model for reform. Over the course of his career, he has led and supported campaigns for racial justice, economic opportunity, immigration reform, LGBTQ+ equality, human rights, and a variety of other causes. He is dedicated to building bridges to collectively confront antisemitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hate and bigotry.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose 850 congregations across North America encompass 1.8 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit RAC.org for more.