Tu BiShvat, called the "New Year of the Trees," falls at a seemingly incongruous time of year.
Tu BiShvat is a minor festival whose provenance dates only to the time of the Second Temple. However, the kabbalists who clustered around the great fifteenth-century mystic Isaac Luria of Safed placed great weight on the holiday, creating new festivities, gatherings at which hymns were sung, fruit (particularly carob) was eaten, and four cups of wine were taken (as in the Passover seder).
The Holocaust is an important topic not only in Jewish history, but in the history of humankind. The topic is disturbing, and it is appropriate to feel uncomfortable and upset by the stories, the facts, and especially the images.
Continuing the success of the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) Campaign for Youth Engagement, the URJ announces the Youth Professional Training Fellowship for early career youth professionals in congregations. This new fellowship, funded by a $141,000 three-year Signature grant from the Covenant Foundation, builds on existing URJ professional development programming for adults who work with youth. Covenant Foundation grantees are Jewish organizations and initiatives with novel and imaginative approaches to Jewish learning and wide geographic reach.
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) announces the establishment of a second URJ 6 Points Sci-Tech Academy, with support from a generous grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camp and the Jim Joseph and AVI CHAI Foundations. This exciting new camp will be the URJ’s 18th camp across North America offering young people immersive Jewish experiences within premier camping environments.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), issued the following statement in response to the Israeli government's announcement of increased settlement building:
Next month, NFTY Convention and Youth Summit participants will gather to learn, pray, and make plans to take action
The Union for Reform Judaism has selected twelve fellowship recipients for the launch cohort of the JewV’Nation (pronounced “juvination”) Fellowship, an innovative year-long project incubator and leadership development program supporting emerging and accomplished Jewish leaders and creative interfaith outreach initiatives.
In response to President Trump’s executive order barring entry to the United States for refugees, immigrants and others from several majority-Muslim countries, the leaders of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Reform Jewish Movement:
“The Reform Movement denounces in the strongest terms the horrifying executive order on immigration and refugees issued late Friday evening by President Trump. The order signed yesterday is even worse than feared, barring entry of all Syrian refugees, imposing in essence a religious test for entry to the U.S., and refusing entry to any individual coming from a list of majority-Muslim nations – betraying even those individuals who have supported our nation's military efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Families are now being held apart and countless individuals who have served our nation in the most difficult circumstances are in jeopardy.