Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)

Tax ID:



New York, New York






Rabbi Richard Jacobs

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Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is the congregational arm of the Reform denomination of Judaism in the United States. URJ advocates for and supports a variety of left-of-center public policy positions, including race-based social policies, taxpayer funding for abortions, more liberal expansionist immigration laws, and opposition to voter integrity laws.


Union for Reform Judaism was formed in 1873 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise as an alternative to Modern Orthodox and Conservative Judaism more liberal in its theology and its interpretation of Jewish religious law and custom. URJ has 880,000 registered members across 831 congregations in the United States and claims to represent the 2.2 million American Jews who more generally identify with the Reform denomination. 1

Commission on Social Action

Through its Commission on Social Action, Union for Reform Judaism provides “resources for white people engaging in antiracist work.” 2 This includes teaching members to shift away from being colorblind to actively seeking to examine issues through the lens of race relations. 3 URJ also shares information from other left-of-center social policy groups, such as instructions for white individuals to take a back seat in sharing their opinions on social policy questions, and silencing other white individuals who choose to dissent from left-of-center social policy issues. 4

URJ has urged its members to support the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and the NAACP, and urges its members to call on their elected representatives to support positions advocated for by BLM. 5

Beyond general activism on race-based policies, URJ also provides guidance on how individual Reform congregations can support left-of-center social issues. 6 URJ recommends that each congregation form a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) working group to educate members through book clubs and race focused discussion groups. 7 URJ teaches that the perspective of white individuals on “mixed race dialogues” should generally be discounted, stating that “placing white folks in interracial dialogue is like placing pre-algebra  students in a calculus class. White people have so little experience discussing race, relative to their Colleagues of Color, that white people need something akin to a remedial course.” 8

This logic extends to creating youth groups within the Congregation. URJ states that a white parent or guardian of a Person of Color (POC) teen should not lead a POC teen youth group at the congregation. Likewise, cis-gendered parents or guardians should not lead teen youth groups designed for transgender teens. 9

Religious Action Center

The Religious Action Center (also Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism or RAC) is the political and policy arm of Union for Reform Judaism. It is a nonprofit organization jointly created by URJ and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the leadership organization for Rabbis within the Reform denomination of Judaism. 10 11

Opposition to Voter Integrity Laws

URJ, through RAC, urges its members to support the Democratic-backed John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 12 The organization advocates for the bill in part because it will reinstitute state preclearance requirements that were relieved in 2013 by the Supreme Court opinion in Shelby County v. Holder. 13 The URJ, echoing Justice Ginsburg’s dissent in Shelby County, states that the voting rights amendments are necessary because removing preclearance requirements is “like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” suggesting that states would likely impose race-focused voter laws in the absence of preclearance. 14

Support for Abortion

The URJ, through RAC, advocates against legal limitations on access to abortion, such as waiting periods, parental consent laws, and pre-abortion counseling. 15 URJ supports the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would foreclose a role for states in setting abortion policy and mandate a maximally expansive federal abortion regime. 16 URJ also opposes the Hyde Amendment, a law that prevents healthcare providers from using federal funds to subsidize abortion procedures. 17

Immigration Policy

In 2018, under President Donald Trump, the United States instituted Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) that would return illegal immigrants to Mexico while awaiting an immigration hearing. President Joe Biden originally intended to end MPP, but the policy is currently in place. URJ, through RAC, advocates a return to the pre-2018 model of allowing illegal immigrants to move freely within the United States prior to an asylum hearing. 18


Rabbi Richard “Rick” Jacobs is the president of URJ. Rabbi Jacobs spent 20 years as rabbi of the Westchester Reform Temple (WRT) in Scarsdale, New York. 19


  1.  “Union for Reform Judaism.” C-SPAN.
  2. “Reconsidering Being Colorblind.” URJ.
  3. [1] “Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Resources” Religious Action Center.
  4. “4 Ways White People Can Process Their Emotions Without Bringing the White Tears – Everyday Feminism.” everyday Feminism.
  5. Rabbi Jonah Dov Presner, “Ways Your Congregation Can Act Now for Racial Justice.” URJ. June 1, 2020. Accessed February 5, 2022.
  6. “Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Resources – ANTIRACISM IN YOUR CONGREGATION & COMMUNITY.” URJ.
  7. “Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Resources – ANTIRACISM IN YOUR CONGREGATION & COMMUNITY.” URJ.
  8. “Utilizing Race-Based Affinity Spaces.” URJ.
  9.  “Utilizing Race-Based Affinity Spaces.” URJ.
  10.  “About the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.” Religious Action Center.
  11. “About Us.” Central Conference of American Rabbis.
  12. “Urge your Senators to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.” URJ.
  13. “Urge your Senators to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.” URJ.
  14. “Urge your Senators to pass the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act.” URJ.
  15. “Urge your Senators to put a stop to state attacks on abortion access.” Religious Action Center.
  16. “Urge your Senators to put a stop to state attacks on abortion access.” Religious Action Center.
  17. “Urge Congress to repeal the Hyde Amendment.” Religious Action Center.
  18. [1] “Urge the Biden Administration to Restore Asylum.” Religious Action Center.
  19. “Rabbi Rick Jacobs.” URJ.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 1945

  • Available Filings

    No filings available.