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In North America, the principal organization for Reform Jewry is the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) (http://www.urj.org). URJ was founded in 1873 as the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC) by Rabbi Isaac Meyer Wise, and serves as the umbrella organization for Reform Synagogues throughout North America. It was renamed Union for Reform Judaism in November 2003.
URJ funds a seminary system for Reform Judaism: the Hebrew Union College--Jewish Institute for Religion (http://huc.edu). HUC was founded in 1875, and it now has campuses in Cincinnati, Ohio (+1 513 221 1875); New York City, New York (+1 212 674 5300); Los Angeles, California (+1 213 749 3424); and Jerusalem ISRAEL (+972 2 232 444). See http://www.huc.edu/campuses.html for specifics.
URJ works with a number of professional organizations:
CCAR. The CCAR or Central Conference of American Rabbis (founded in 1889) [http://ccarnet.org]. Its members are the body of rabbis who consider themselves and are considered to be the organized rabbinate of Reform Judaism. Its members consist of Reform Rabbis ordained at the Hebrew Union College (HUC), as well as Reform Rabbis ordained at liberal seminaries in Europe, and some rabbis who joined the Reform movement sometime subsequent to ordination (most of these were ordained either at Conservative Judaism's Jewish Theological Seminary or University of Judaism, or at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College). Note that not all HUC graduates are CCAR members; some leave for ideological reasons or because they have joined a different movement. The CCAR publishes a quarterly rabbinic journal called CCAR Journal.
ACOC. American Conference of Cantors (http://rj.org/acc/). The ACC is the professional organization of over two hundred fifty invested and/or certified cantors. Responsible for raising the professional standards of synagogue musicians, the ACC offers continuing education programs in conjunction with HUC-JIR School of Sacred Music and professional development opportunities for its members. Members of the ACC have special expertise in the music of the Jewish people and serve synagogues and communities in pastoral, worship, programming, and educational roles. The ACC sponsors an annual convention and publishes Koleinu, a monthly newsletter. It also offers placement services to its members and UAHC congregations through the Joint Cantorial Placement Commission.
NATA. National Association of Temple Administrators (http://rj.org/nata/). The National Association of Temple Administrators is the professional organization founded in 1941 for those who serve Reform Synagogues as executives, administrators, or managers. The title does not reflect the international make up of the organization, currently there are more than 400 members from the United States, Australia, Canada and Great Britain.
NATE. National Association of Temple Educators (http://rj.org/nate/). NATE. is the professional organization of Educators serving congregations of the Reform Movement as Directors of Education, Principals, Department Heads, Preschool Directors and Family Educators. Many NATE. members also serve on the professional staff of Bureaus and Central Agencies of Jewish Education. A growing number of NATE. Educators direct Reform or Community Jewish Day Schools.
URJ works with a number of special-interest groups:
WRJ. Women of Reform Judaism (formerly National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods) [http://www.rj.org/wrj/]. Women of Reform Judaism, The Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, representing 100,000 women in 600 local Sisterhoods throughout the United States, Canada, and thirteen other countries, is the women's agency of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America.
NFTB. National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods (http://www.rj.org/nftb). NFTB is a coalition of over 250 affiliated brotherhoods with 30,000 members across North America, dedicated to tikkun olam, 'repairing the world', through the practice of Brotherhood. NFTB members are actively involved in youth education, adult education, social action, and fellowship activities which contribute to the enrichment of their synagogue community.
ARZA. Association of Reform Zionists of America (http://arza.org/) The mission of ARZA is to further the development of Progressive Judaism in Israel and throughout the world. ARZA strives to strengthen Jewish communities by encouraging Jewish solidarity, promoting religious pluralism and furthering Zionism. ARZA is working to strengthen the relationship of North American Reform Jews with Progressive Jewish communities in Israel and throughout the world and to educate and inform our constituency on relevant matters of Jewish importance. ARZA is the representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism and an affiliate of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
NFTY. North American Federation of Temple Youth (http://www.rj.org/nfty/). NFTY is the youth arm of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and is comprised of over 450 Temple Youth Groups (TYGs) throughout the United States and Canada. The overall purposes of NFTY are to instill Jewish identity, foster commitment to the ideals and values of Reform Judaism, and increase synagogue participation in high school youth, pursued in a framework that emphasizes the development of personal and leadership skills in a wholesome, social, Jewish environment.
KESHER. Reform Jewish Student Organization (http://www.keshernet.com). KESHER is the college movement of North American Reform Judaism, an affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism that connects college-aged Reform Jews, Reform college groups, and college campuses to each other and to the Reform movement, in order to promote continuous involvement in Reform Judaism.
At the political level, Reform Judaism in the US is respresented by:
RAC. Religious Action Center (http://rj.org/rac/). The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) has been the hub of Jewish social justice and legislative activity in the nation's capital for over 35 years. It has educated and mobilized the American Jewish community on legislative and social concerns as an advocate in the Congress of the United States on issues ranging from Israel and Soviet Jewry to economic justice and civil rights, to international peace and religious liberty. The RAC is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 870 congregations throughout North America.
In Canada, Reform Congregations are members of the Canadian Council for Reform Judaism (http://www.uahcweb.org/regs/cc/). CCRJ represents approximately 9000 households in 24 affiliated congregations from Montreal to Calgary. The CCRJ is the Canadian region of the Union for Reform Judaism.
The CCRJs mandates are:
At the International Level, Reform Judaism is represented by the following:
WUPJ. World Union for Progressive Judaism (http://www.rj.org/wupj). The World Union for Progressive Judaism was founded in London in 1926 as the international organization to promote and sustain liberal Judaism, its practices and ideas. Over 1.5 million Reform, Liberal, Progressive, and Reconstructionist congregations are affiliated with the movement in over 35 countries and on six continents. From its central office in Jerusalem, the World Union brings back Judaism to countries where former Nazi and communist tyrannies sought to stamp out Jews and Judaism forever. It also introduces disaffected Jews in many parts of the world to an open and questioning expression of Judaism to which they can relate.
ARZENU. International Federation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists (http://www.irac.org/arzenu/).
IRAC. The Israel Religious Action Center (http://www.irac.org/)
The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.
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