Email Email   


Association of Reform or Liberal congregations in the Western Hemisphere. It was founded in 1873 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise whose primary purpose was to establish a seminary for the training of American rabbis; this was accomplished two years later with the founding of the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. The URJ maintained its headquarters in Cincinnati until 1951, when the Berg Memorial House of Living Judaism in New York was opened as headquarters for the organization and all its affiliates.

The URJ maintained the Board of Delegates of American Israelites from 1878 until 1925 when it ceased to exist. The Board published the first Jewish census in the U.S. in 1880. It concerned itself throughout with the rights of Jews in foreign countries.

The primary purpose of the URJ and its affiliates is to service the constituent synagogues and temples. Currently there are more than 900 congregations with a total membership of about 1.5 million.

The chief legislative authority of the URJ is its Biennial General Assembly. Between assemblies, the executive board of 120 persons and the administrative committee of that board carry on policy-making functions. Various commissions deal with such programs as Jewish education, synagogue activities, and interfaith activities.

The URJ has organized three national affiliates: the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, founded in 1913, the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods, founded in 1916, and the National Federation of Temple Youth, founded in 1939. Each carries on a full program of religious, cultural, educational, and social activities. In addition, the URJ has been affiliated with the National Association of Temple Secretaries, founded in 1943, an organization of professional temple executives, and the National Association of Temple Educators, founded in 1955. The URJ publications include the periodical American Judaism. The URJ operates 12 summer camps in the United States and Canada.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email