Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner
As we celebrate LGBT (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual, Transgender) Pride Month this June, the Reform Jewish community has a lot to be proud of. For decades the Reform Movement has been one of the leading faith voices in Washington, D.C., and around the country advocating for LGBT equality. Our LGBT advocacy began decades ago with the passage of policy resolutions by the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), and the affiliates. Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) was the first Reform Jewish institution to take a stand supporting the decriminalization of...Read More
As the new director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, I watched President Obama’s State of the Union speech with fresh eyes, looking for areas where we can work with the president and Congress in the coming year to advance our Reform Movement's social justice agenda. The president noted that every decision the nation makes reflects its values. As Reform Jews, it is vital that we continue our historic work of raising our voices on behalf of values of justice and compassion. We welcome the strong spotlight President Obama shone on issues of economic inequality and look...Read More
Many people wonder why Tishah B'Av continues to matter in modernity. This solemn day of fasting commemorates the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and exile from the land of Israel. Why continue to mourn these losses in an age when the Jewish people have regained our homeland and rebuilt Jerusalem? After traveling with American Jewish World Service to the Thai-Burmese border this past winter, however, I have rediscovered in Tisha B’Av an eternal call to remember oppression and to act to overcome it.
During my travels with AJWS I had the privilege of meeting with some of the...Read More
The Metropolitan Opera in New York recently made the controversial choice to produce John Adams' "The Death of Klinghoffer," an opera that deals with the murder of Jewish American Leon Klinghoffer in 1985, when terrorists threw him into the ocean during their attack on the Achille Lauro cruise ship. Facing intense criticism, the Met has agreed to refrain from simulcasting the opera in venues all over the world – though they are still mounting a production.
Twenty years ago, as young graduate students living in New York, my wife and I went to go see what we thought would be a...Read More
Shalom from Eretz Yisrael! I’m thrilled to be here in Jerusalem as part of the first URJ Board of Trustees Mission to Israel, led by Rabbi Rick Jacobs. This is a critical, working trip to advance the goals of our movement. We just arrived Tuesday night, but here’s a rundown of some of the highlights so far. We met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit at the Prime Minister’s office. The PM was visibly moved by Rabbi Jacobs' introduction and reiterated his support of the Reform Movement in Israel and throughout the world. Rabbi Jacobs has...Read More
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