RJ Magazine Top Menu


URJ Launches New Platform for State-of-the-Art Congregational Websites: The Union for Reform Judaism has launched a state-of-the-art congregational website platform—RJ WebBuilder 2.0—free of charge to all URJ synagogues. The new platform, produced by the Union in partnership with Whole Megillah, a technology division of Virtually Beautiful, Inc.:

  • offers cutting-edge functionality and template designs
  • contains sophisticated image and multimedia display tools
  • is easy to use and to manage
  • is customizable, with made-to-order features tailored for individual use
  • enables the creation of donation forms on the fly

As before, web contents will be enriched by URJ-provided news and educational content.

“The URJ is thrilled to help empower our congregations with the most advanced tool available for creating their internet presences,” says URJ Chief Operating Officer Barbara G. Saidel. “The new service allows our synagogues to bypass the technological, financial, and logistical hurdles of sourcing and building their own sites to free up their resources for the sacred task of building community.”

To get started, sign up at urj.org/rjweb/signup. Sites are being provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information contact the RJ Web Help Desk, web@urj.org.

2011 URJ Biennial Photo Contest Winners: Laura Jucha of Temple Solel, Cardiff by the Sea, CA won the URJ’s “Congregational Life” photo contest with this image of Alex Felder and Nathan Strich blowing shofarim on the beach as part of their congregation’s tashlich. 

Beckye Levin of Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, Houston won ARZA’s “Congregational Trips to Israel” photo contest with this image of a dove adjacent to the Western Wall, titled “A Prayer for the Peace of Israel.” Winners were chosen by popular vote on Facebook.

Isaac M. Wise Temple Library’s Historic Children’s Collection: The Ralph and Julia Cohen Library of Isaac M. Wise Temple in Cincinnati has become the repository of the largest special collection of historically significant books of Jewish content for American children. Dating back to the mid-19th century, the Shavzin-Carsch Collection (named for Bess Shavzin and Judith Carsch, Wise Temple librarians successively for nearly 50 years) includes books, curricula, and instructional materials for Jewish children. To view the library catalog: wisetemple.org; for more information contact Wise temple librarian Andrea Rapp, arapp@wisetemple.org

Reform Jew Appointed to National Council on Disability: U.S. President Barack Obama has appointed Matan Koch, a member of Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City and a member of the URJ Special Needs Camping Committee, to America’s 15-member National Council on Disability.

Born with cerebral palsy, Koch has always had a unique way of looking at the world that has enabled him to succeed. “There is a lengthy list of things I can’t do,” he says, explaining that “I can’t walk, I can’t dress myself or use the rest room on my own…but there is a lengthy list of things everyone can’t do....Most people can’t do single variable calculus in their head, and that’s something I can do.”

Koch, the son of Rabbi Norman Koch of Temple Sholom in New Milford, Connecticut, earned his bachelor’s degree from Yale University and law degree from Harvard. In 2001 and 2002 he served as vice chairman of the New Haven Commission on Disabilities and chaired its American with Disabilities Act Subcommittee. He currently practices law at the Manhattan firm of Kramer, Levin, Naftalis & Frankel, where he specializes in commercial litigation and advertising, and notes that his inability to walk has no effect on how he represents his clients. And, he says, he prefers to speak about all people “in terms of what they can do, instead of what they cannot do.”