Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Reform Movement’s Rabbinical Group Appoints First Female Leader

NEW YORK (JTA) — The Reform movement’s rabbinical wing has appointed Rabbi Hara Person as its first female chief executive.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents 2,100 Reform rabbis around the world, made the announcement on Thursday. Person succeeds Rabbi Steven Fox, who is retiring in June after 13 years as CEO.

With more than 1 million members, the Reform movement is the largest Jewish denomination in North America.

Person, 54, has been working at the New York-based rabbinical body for a decade, first as head of its publishing arm and since last year as its chief strategy officer. She also serves as the High Holidays rabbi at Congregation B’nai Olam in Fire Island Pines, New York, and as the adjunct rabbi at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. Previously she worked at the Union for Reform Judaism Press as its editor in chief.

She said being the first woman in the position “feels really exciting.”

“On the one hand, it’s hugely historic, and also it’s time,” Person told JTA in a phone interview. “It’s sort of shocking that it hasn’t happened before, and I hope that it will be a positive modeling, not only for our female colleagues, but also for our male colleagues to see a different kind of leader.”

Person says one area she wants to focus on in her new role is embracing the rabbinate’s diversity, both in terms of gender — women make up one-third of CCAR membership — and career trajectories.

Person sees two sets of challenges facing the Reform movement today.

“The outside challenges I think are pretty clear in terms of growing anti-Semitism and white supremacy,” she said. “And we have challenges from inside, which are about how we help people to connect in meaningful ways, how do we make Judaism relevant.”

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.