Rick Jacobs by Ben Fink Shapiro
Rick Jacobs, a rabbi in Brooklyn and Westchester for the last 30 years, has taken over as president of the Union for Reform Judaism. He was profiled by the Reform Jewish magazine as a “Catalyst for Change.” There was not a lot of hasbara in the interview, but there was this story, reminiscent of old-timey movies in which a young woman sees her future husband for the first time:
Q. A recent survey found that only 60% of Jews under 35 believe that caring about Israel is a key part of their Jewish identity. What can we do to reverse this trend?
Jacobs: It is up to all of us to foster a deep love for and engagement with Israel among Reform Jews of North America, young and old.
This past summer I had the privilege of welcoming a few busloads of our NFTY [North American Federation of Temple Youth] teens to Jerusalem. Blindfolded, they stepped off their buses holding hands, moving slowly toward the edge of the Haas Promenade that overlooks the Temple Mount in the center of Jerusalem. They were about to have their first glimpse of the City of Gold. You cannot imagine the look of amazement and wonder on their faces as they opened their eyes to the setting sun over Jerusalem. Watching these Reform teens fall in love with Israel, I remembered my own love affair with Israel that was sparked during my junior year at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Ever since, I have spent much of my rabbinate working to strengthen Israel’s security and well-being. I hope that every Jew can come to see Israel the way those teenagers did, with the sparkle of its promise searing our souls.