Rick Jacobs Threatens to Pull URJ Out of Presidents Conference After J Street Fiasco

Reform Leader Says Umbrella Group Is 'Facade'


By Michael Kaplan

Published May 01, 2014.
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Reform leader Rabbi Rick Jacobs says the Union of Reform Judaism will consider dropping out of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations after it voted to reject membership to the dovish group J Street.

“This much is certain: We will no longer acquiesce to simply maintaining the facade that the Conference of Presidents represents or reflects the views of all of American Jewry,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs accused the Presidents Conference of being beholden to a large number of small right wing groups that do not adequately represent the diversity of the American Jewish community.

He said that many of the largest and most reputable organizations, including all member organizations from the Reform and Conservative movement, supported the bid.

“It is clear that the Conference of Presidents, as currently constituted and governed, no longer serves its vital purpose of providing a collective voice for the entire American Jewish pro-Israel community,” he said, calling the procedures of the conference into question.

Some 22 of the 51 member organizations voted against accepting J Street into the Conference of Presidents, while 17 supported it and three abstained. Each member organization, no matter its size, has a single vote. The bid would have needed 34 votes to pass.

Jacobs added that he will consult leaders of other member organizations in the days ahead to figure out how to proceed. He suggested that the URJ might consider either advocating an overhaul of the processes or possibly dropping membership altogether.

He praised J Street for its successes in attracting energetic and activism-oriented youth, who he affirmed have a deep commitment to the State of Israel. “Shutting their voices out of our communal discussion only serves to expose how narrow that discussion has become,” he said.


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