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Reform leader Al Vorspan, 95

Reform leader Al Vorspan, 95

Al Vorspan (URG/Twitter/via JTA)
Al Vorspan (URG/Twitter/via JTA)

Social justice is so associated with Reform Judaism that it is sometimes hard for some to remember, or for young people to even know, how much Al Vorspan was its architect, its prophetic voice. He passed away this week, age 95, remembered as an early organizer of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC), and a former senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director emeritus of RAC, called Vorspan “one of the gadolei hador, or ‘great ones’ of Jewish social justice work. A true icon, Vorspan shaped much of social justice work of the Reform Jewish Movement, ensuring it lives at the very heart of Reform Judaism.” Beginning in 1953, Vorspan helped inspire the creation of social action committees in congregations across the continent.

URJ President Rabbi Rick Jacobs said, “Al blazed a trail of courage and conscience that so many of us have walked. Not since the biblical prophets Amos, Hosea, and Micah walked the earth have we been led by such an inspiring leader.”

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