Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Incoming President of the Union for Reform Judaism, was inducted onto the Board of Governors of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) at its meeting on February 13, 2012 in Los Angeles.
Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President, stated, “As an honored alumnus and the incoming leader of the congregational arm of the Reform Jewish Movement in North America, Rabbi Jacobs is a vital catalyst in ensuring the future of Reform Judaism. He is a force for innovation and creativity, as together, as partners, we face the challenges and needs of a rapidly changing Jewish community.”
A longtime and devoted creative change agent, Rabbi Jacobs spent 20 years as a dynamic, visionary spiritual leader at Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) in Scarsdale, New York. During his tenure, he reshaped communal worship, transformed the congregation into a community of lifelong learners, and strengthened the synagogue's commitment to vibrancy and inclusion. Under his leadership, WRT completed a new "green" sanctuary, one of only a handful of Jewish houses of worship in the nation to carry this designation.
Prior to his tenure at WRT, Rabbi Jacobs served the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, where he founded and co-directed the first synagogue-based homeless shelter in New York City. He was ordained in 1982 by HUC-JIR in New York, where he received numerous excellence awards. In 2007, he received an honorary Doctorate of Divinity, also from HUC-JIR. Deeply committed to the State of Israel, Rabbi Jacobs has studied for two decades at Jerusalem's Shalom Hartman Institute, where he is now a senior rabbinic fellow.
Rabbi Jacobs is a product of the Reform Movement, and has held numerous leadership posts within the URJ, the CCAR, ARZA and WUPJ. He also has served on the boards of Jewish organizations in the community-at-large, including American Jewish World Service, UJA-Federation of New York, and, since its inception in 1996, Synagogue 2000 and its successor, Synagogue 3000.
Dedicated to global social justice issues, Rabbi Jacobs was part of a delegation that assessed disaster response following Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010. He also observed the plight of Darfur refugees as part of an international humanitarian mission to the Chad-Darfur border area in 2005, and in 2009, participated in an annual conference of Muslim and Christian leaders designed to build understanding between the West and the Muslim world.
Rabbi Jacobs and his wife Susan K. Freedman, are the parents of three children.
Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's first 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 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