Rabbi Balfour Brickner, a leader of the Reform movement, died Monday at age 78. Brickner was the former spiritual leader of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue in New York City and a long-serving member of the professional staff of the Union for Reform Judaism. He fought for equality and social justice across the globe, from the segregated American South in the 1960s, to Vietnam in the early 1970s, to Nicaragua in the 1980s. Most notably, he advocated on behalf of Israel throughout his long career, and he was among the first American Jews to travel to Israel at the outbreak of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
In addition to carrying out social justice work, Brickner was the founding rabbi of Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C., director of the Reform movement’s Commission on Interreligious Affairs and a member of the executive staff of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (now the Union for Reform Judaism).
“The silencing of his strong, unwavering voice in these struggles is a loss for our movement, for the Jewish people and for all who strive to repair our broken world,” said Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.