Israel Religious Action Center Moves to HUC-JIR/Jerusalem: All Arms of the Reform Movement in Israel Under One Roof

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) officially dedicated its new home at the Jerusalem Campus of HUC-JIR on Wednesday, June 30th, 2010. This Hanukat Bayit – housewarming party – began with a reception and mezuzah hanging, followed by keynote speaker, Israeli author Amos Oz.

The Israel Religious Action Center, the public and legal advocacy arm of the Reform Movement in Israel, was founded in 1987 with the goals of advancing pluralism in Israeli society and defending the freedoms of conscience, faith, and religion. Through the generosity of Rabbi Amy and Gary Perlin, IRAC moved to the Hebrew Union College Jerusalem Campus in January of 2010. This move has already succeeded in improving communication, efficiency, and fostering a sense of community within the Israeli Reform Movement.

Rabbi Naamah Kelman, Dean of HUC-Jerusalem Campus, speaks for President David Ellenson and the entire HUC-Jerusalem community in welcoming IRAC to the place where it belongs—“at the heart of our Jerusalem campus, to promote the noble values of our Reform Movement—social justice, tikkun olam, and human rights advocacy.”  She explains that “students from North America and Israel will benefit from IRAC’s presence as we all work together to shape a future that is both Jewish and democratic.”

With The Israel Religious Action Center now located at HUC-JIR/Jerusalem, Rabbi Kelman, along with Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of IRAC, are glad that “all arms of the Reform Movement in Israel, including the headquarters of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism and the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the North American Federation of Temple Youth, Netzer Olami, and of course HUC and IRAC, are now on one campus, to mutually nourish, inspire, and energize one another in our collective efforts. Our American counterparts dream of creating one center to house the whole Reform movement, and here in the center of Jerusalem we have done that.”

To Anat Hoffman, the more than 100 windows in the new offices call to mind the expression, “L’olam yitpalel adam b’bayit she’yesh bo chalonot”- a person should always pray in a house that has windows. Now under one Jerusalem roof, Progressive Judaism in Israel, through IRAC, is looking out its many windows with an eye to create a more just, tolerant, and pluralistic world. 

Gary Perlin said, "The Reform and Zionist movements – while spending their early years going in very different directions – both emphasized a sense of universal ideals, whether in the form of political democracy or a commitment to economic equality.  Reform Judaism and Zionism were both deeply rooted in the belief of pluralism, tolerance, and human rights.  These are the values our family holds most dear, and they are the heart and soul of IRAC.  We have never had difficulty in reconciling our commitment to Reform Judaism with our commitment to Israel.  That is why we are so grateful for the opportunity to see them come together here this afternoon."  Please click here to read his remarks.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu