In the fall, more than 100 congregations across North America accessed our newly launched Four HaTikvah Questions (4HQ) methodology, a way for Jewish people of diverse perspectives on Israel to connect across differences. This curriculum empowers community leaders to assess Israel’s place in their organization while clarifying and affirming their own thoughts and feelings.
In 2022, the URJ’s summer camps brought together more than 11,000 campers and dedicated staff members to strengthen campers’ Jewish identity and knowledge, instill Reform Jewish values, and help them cultivate lifelong friendships. Our campers gained resilience and strengthened their mental, physical, and emotional health.
In 2022, the URJ publicly launched Yallah! Israel, the reimagined Israel program for teens across the Reform Movement and beyond, powered by NFTY in Israel. Over 600 teens visited Israel through our Yallah! Israel program and our Heller High program hosted over 100 students. Both of these programs provided life-changing Jewish experiences while strengthening the bonds between our youth and the State of Israel.
In February of 2022, in response to rising antisemitism, RAC director Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner issued a call for “all people of goodwill [to] speak forcefully and consistently in opposition to antisemitism and those who spread it.”
We responded to the persistent rise of antisemitism in the United States by continuing to promote the toolkit we developed with the ADL. Rabbi Rick Jacobs also spoke out about the unequivocal hatred voiced by celebrity influencers and reports of increased antisemitism on U.S. college campuses.
In 2022, as always, we championed a democratic and pluralistic State of Israel – an undertaking that, as we know today, has become even more critical and urgent. Central to the protection of religious freedom that is essential to a flourishing democracy, Rabbi Rick Jacobs urged the Israeli government, under the leadership of then-Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, to make good on its commitment to the Kotel Agreement. Additionally, During Israel’s elections in November, he spoke out against the platforms of newly elected Israeli politicians Smotrich and Ben-Gvir, whose far-right agendas threaten Israeli democracy. Throughout the year, Rabbi Jacobs was vocal on social media and in press releases against violent and deadly acts by extremists in Israel and Palestine, including shootings, stabbings, bombings, and rocket attacks. The URJ continues to support Israel and its democracy through these critical moments.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced in September 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 25 of the nation’s most distinguished faith leaders, advises the secretary of homeland security on the needs of the faith community relating to security and preparedness.
Rabbi David Saperstein, director emeritus of the RAC, was honored as a “Uniter” at the United We Stand Summit, hosted by President Biden at the White House in September. Rabbi Saperstein was recognized for his work with the Multi-Faith Neighbors Network as one of the preeminent heroes from across America doing extraordinary work to stand together against hate, build bridges, and heal divides in their communities.