Jersey leaders helping guide Reform movement

Jersey leaders helping guide Reform movement

STEVEN WEITZ of Temple Beth-El in Hillsborough is one of four Reform Jewish leaders in North America elected as a vice chair of the board of trustees of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). 

Among the 23 recently elected members of the URJ board are Jennie Rubin of Temple B’nai Or in Morristown, who also serves as president of Early Childhood Educators of Reform Judaism (ECE-RJ); Sean Blum of both Temple Shalom in Succasunna and Congregation Beth Chaim in Princeton Junction; and Sharon Benoff of Shir Ami in Newtown, Pa. 

The URJ represents close to 900 congregations in North America with a combined membership of nearly 1.5 million people. 

Weitz, who has served on the URJ board of trustees since 2010, said that, as a Jew, his life’s purpose “is to make a difference in this world. It’s my privilege to engage in such work as a URJ officer, where our mission is to create a world of wholeness, justice, and compassion.” A past president of Beth-El, where he continues to serve on the board, Weitz said he looks forward to serving as the lay partner to Amy Asin, URJ vice president of strengthening congregations, and her professional staff. 

“The work of the URJ board is a sacred calling,” said Rubin, “and I’m honored to represent the ECE-RJ and our members who devote their lives to the heart and soul of Judaism.” In addition to holding the presidency, she has served in numerous positions on the ECE-RJ board and has been director of early childhood education at B’nai Or since 2005.

Blum said that “as a proud alumnus” of the URJ camping system and NFTY youth group, he looks forward to “bringing a young professional’s voice to the board.” He is involved with Jewish Helping Hands and has served on the Temple Shalom board and the NFTY regional board. Blum met his wife, Rabbi Adena Blum, a clergy member at Congregation Beth Chaim, at the URJ Biennial in 2009. 

Benoff, who has served in several leadership roles on the board of directors of Women of Reform Judaism, said, “I look forward to working with my fellow board members in advancing the meaningful and impactful work of the Reform movement.” Since 2003, she has held numerous portfolios serving on the executive committee of Shir Ami, and is also a member of many organizations, including Hadassah, ORT International, ARZA-Association of Reform Zionists of America, and the National Museum of American Jewish History. 

URJ board chair Daryl Messinger said, “Our board members bring their dedication to the ideals of the Reform movement. I look forward to working together to enhance the URJ’s effectiveness as we shape the future of the Reform movement, helping our congregations and communities envision and create a 21st-century Reform Judaism that is inclusive, adaptable, and thriving.”

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