The new head of the Reform Jews?

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, your friend and mine, is retiring next year. He’s been the head of the URJ for 16 years.

Nominated to succeed him is Rabbi Richard Jacobs, who I have never heard of.

Things about Jacobs that seem noteworthy:

  • He is working on a doctorate at NYU in something called “ritual dance”
  • He used to be a dancer and choreographer
  • He is on the board of the New Israel Fund (!)

This does not sound like good news for the liturgy nerds of the Reform world.

Anybody know anything about this guy?

More on this at JTA

, , , , ,

16 Responses to The new head of the Reform Jews?

  1. Kelly March 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I’ve heard of him, but probably only because I grew up next to Westchester where his congregation is. He is very well respected and is a big social action-y guy. I was expecting R. Danny Freelander. Interesting, I guess? I’m curious to see other reactions.

  2. the Rebbetzin March 22, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    here is the URJ announcement

    http://urj.org/about/union/pr/2011/?syspage=article&item_id=62320

    he’s a good guy. very committed to learning, Israel and social action.

  3. Eric Hollander March 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Got to be cool. Former rabbi of my local, excellent Reform shul, Brooklyn Heights Synagogue.

  4. Ben Sternman March 23, 2011 at 11:03 am #

    I don’t know Rabbi Jacobs personally, but by reputation he is considered innovative, inspiring and a mentsch.

    Why are you afraid for the liturgy nerds of the world?

    • David A.M. Wilensky March 24, 2011 at 8:41 am #

      “Ritual dance”

      • Ben Sternman March 24, 2011 at 9:31 am #

        Your reaction is interesting.

        Ritual dance. Hmm. Let’s take a look at some possibilities:

        *At Eisner camp, Shabbat morning services include an interpretive dance that expresses something from the parashah. (Is this is your fear?)
        *King David danced before God (Samuel II 6:14).
        *The ritual first dance at a wedding.
        *The Hora entertaining the bride and groom.
        *The mezinka.
        *Na Nach Nachma Nachman MeUman ecstatic dancing.

        These are the Jewish ones that occur to me. Surely other cultures and peoples have ritual dances (Maori(?) warriors are supposed to have dances that use lots of feathers – the only reason I know this was a PBS program on conservation of birds). I would think that all of human civilization has enough ritual dance in it to write a PhD thesis on.

        • David A.M. Wilensky March 24, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

          It’s not a serious objection, by the way. Everything I’m reading about the guy so far makes him sound great.

          • Ben Sternman March 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm #

            To quote Emily Litella “Never mind.”

  5. ML March 25, 2011 at 2:03 am #

    Just admit that you equate dancing with “woo woo” Judaism. 😉

  6. rebhayim March 25, 2011 at 8:17 pm #

    David, this Jacobs guy is the real deal. Very smart, very liturgically tuned in, very conversant with tradition, a protege of Rabbi Richard Levy, Hartman Institute grad, etc. The modern dance thing is a part of Jacobs’ bag of tricks. Don’t worry — he’s not woo woo, though he make you move a little before you davenn.
    BTW, I’d be scared shitless of a young whippersnapper like you coming into my suburban temple and evaluating my work, liturgy, etc. I have a picture of you at the door so that security will stop you if you try coming in. What — oh yeah, I don’t HAVE any security guards…
    Anyway, good Shabbes.
    rebhayim

    • David A.M. Wilensky March 27, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

      I’d be scared shitless of a young whippersnapper like you coming into my suburban temple and evaluating my work, liturgy, etc.

      Why? I do it for my own enjoyment and the enjoyment of the other people loopy enough to care enough to read this blog. If you like your service, why be worried about what some “young whippersnapper” like me has to say?

  7. rebhayim March 25, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    that is “he MAY make you move…”
    I hate when I don’t proofread…

  8. Larry Kaufman April 18, 2011 at 11:17 pm #

    HUC grad/URJ head + ritual dance = Reform Shuckle.

  9. Larry Kaufman April 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    BTW, whatever happened to the blog name change idea?

    • David A.M. Wilensky April 19, 2011 at 1:56 pm #

      It’s not happening until I move to the new address at davidamwilensky.com, which it looking increasingly like it’s not gonna happen until after graduation.