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Dear Reader: The Journey Ahead

Our Reform Movement is 200 years old, a mere child in Jewish terms; and it is by acting young that it has achieved so much.

We have been brash and forward-looking. We have brushed aside counsels of timidity. We have deep reservoirs of spirit and vigor. We have taught Torah with a revolutionary fire and an adventuring spirit. And we have had the courage of our doubts in a world of dangerous certainties. In addition, we have said with ruthless honesty: If you want a restless, optimistic, risk-taking Judaism, come to us; if you want a touch of chaos, come to us; but if you want a rebbe-dominated Judaism, a rigid and hierarchical Judaism, it can best be found elsewhere.

What our Movement needs right now is to be united. We must end the institutional narcissism that has too often plagued us, and work together as never before.

We also need the leadership and inspiration of the visionaries in our midst. Rabbi David Ellenson, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion president, is such a visionary. And my successor as Union for Reform Judaism president, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, is such a visionary.

Rick is a great leader who takes Torah seriously and speaks from our tradition with authority. He is a leader for this moment in the history of Reform Judaism. This is a moment when Reform synagogues crave the innovative and the idiosyncratic—a moment of potentially drastic transition when organizational tinkering is not enough. Rick possesses what these times require: the imaginative power to sense the quick drift of history, and the ability to act.

Leading this Movement has been a joyous journey for me. (To read more about this journey, see page 28.) Now, it is someone else’s turn. And nothing reassures me more than to know that that someone is Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who will rally this Movement to unheard-of achievements.

In troubled times, Judaism’s future depends on change and hope. For Reform Jews, change is our home field. Change is what we do. And for our synagogues, hope is our oxygen. And so I promise you: Armed with the tenets of Reform, caught up in a Jewish destiny both great and inexplicable, we will affirm and embrace our covenant with God—trusting that as we reach out our hand to God, God’s hand reaches out to us, giving us strength for the journey ahead.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie 
President, Union for Reform Judaism