Giving Tuesday: More Than a Day on the Calendar

November 16, 2023Gabi Kirsch

I am grateful to work for an organization that's dedicated to fortifying Jewish communities and bettering the world, especially in challenging times. Since Hamas's October 7th attack on Israel, the Reform Movement has been playing an indispensable role in providing local communities throughout North America with centers for connection, healing, spiritual grounding, and action. The bonds formed through our congregations, camps, youth movement, and other initiatives give us the strength to move forward.

As we approach #GivingTuesday and prepare to exemplify one of our core values by giving tzedakah, the Reform Movement is continuing our dedication to strengthening local and global Jewish communities. #GivingTuesday is a day of hope, when we remember how powerful we can be when we work together to make change.

Gifts on #GivingTuesday directly support initiatives that nurture our communities, build resilience, and combat antisemitism.

In 2023, the URJ helped mobilize the North American Jewish community to advocate for justice in several impactful ways. Here are just a few things we've accomplished together:

  • Successfully urged the Senate to confirm a U.S. ambassador to Israel
  • Campaigned for the state of Texas to pass legislation ensuring that new parents will receive Medicaid for a full year after giving birth, which they did in June 2023
  • Organized Ohio voters to codify reproductive freedom in their state constitution, which they overwhelmingly did in November 2023

Together, we are still taking action. The URJ provides resources and programs to help people understand what is happening in Israel and around the world while building relationships, cultivating spirituality, and advocating for justice. We also support the vibrancy of over 800 congregations by developing leaders, nurturing innovation, and bringing the best of our programming to their members. Our programs empower individuals to deepen their engagement with their community both inside and outside of their synagogue while helping them connect with their spirituality. This year, nearly 500 congregational leaders engaged with their congregants in new and innovative ways after being inspired by the URJ's Engagement Learning series built upon our core values of community, belonging, and curiosity.

Through our 14 summer camps and year-round youth programs, we work to nurture our youth leaders and empower future generations. These programs help our young people develop invaluable life skills, cultivate life-long friendships, and connect with their Jewish identities. We know from experience that these skills, friendships, and values sustain us even through the most difficult times.

In 2021, the URJ and Anti-Defamation League (ADL) launched a critical partnership to combat antisemitism and hate. Since then, we have provided resources to individuals and congregations, hosted webinars, connected congregations to security resources, created online and print resources, and helped teens stand up to antisemitism and hate. We have had two cohorts of Reform congregations participate in our partnership program with the ADL and Kulanu - Synagogues in Action Against Antisemitism. We've recently launched our third cohort of more than 105 congregations.

This #GivingTuesday, I hope you will join me in sustaining the Reform Movement's vitally important work in North America and around the world. Here are a few ways you can help:

#GivingTuesday is more than a day on the calendar - it's a call to action and unity and reminds us of our sacred obligation to heal the world. Together, we pursue our vision of a world in which all people can experience peace and wholeness (shalom), justice and equity (tzedek), and belonging and joy (shayachut and simcha).

Related Posts

Making a Jewish Ritual for my Divorce

In the weeks leading up to my civil divorce, I delved into Jewish tradition to see how I could mark it Jewishly. I'd been married under a chuppah with the exquisite blessings of our tradition; simply marking my divorce in the Cook County courthouse was not going to suffice.