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Inside Leadership
Smiling teen girl holding a Torah in a crowd of teens

Pulsing music. Cheering crowds. A roar of enthusiasm as fans rushed the stage. 

No, these aren’t scenes from the last time I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert. Rather, they're from this past Friday night as I celebrated Shabbat with 1,400 Jewish teens, young adults, alumni, congregational professionals, and lay leaders at NFTY Convention, the largest Reform Jewish youth gathering in North America.

As the Union for Reform Judaism's Lay Partner for Youth, I have the privilege of spending time with...

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Transgender restroom sign

In 2014, Congregation Kol Ami in Elkins Park, PA, hosted a “Kindness Counts” conference that focused on welcoming LGBTQ Jews to the community. Recently, a small group of congregational leaders decided it was time for a second gathering, this time focusing on inclusion of trans and non-binary Jews in synagogue life.

We moved quickly. With approval from the rabbi and board, the three co-chairs – two of whom are trans activists and one of whom is also trans – assembled a planning committee and “Kindness Counts Bet: Moving Beyond the...

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Contact: Max Rosenblum 202.387.2800 |

WASHINGTON – In response to President Trump speaking out today for the first time against anti-Semitism, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the wider Reform Movement:

President Trump’s condemnation this morning of anti-Semitism is as welcome as it is overdue....

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NFTY convention participants enjoying the gathering

“As leaders and as change-makers, we can get so caught up in what we are pursuing individually that we forget the real strength of leadership comes from the love that leads to listening, sharing, working together, and realizing that what we will accomplish together is greater than anything we can ever do alone.”

I got chills down my spine as 17-year-old Joe Lichtenstein read the words above from his winning essay in this year’s Wendy Blickstein Memorial D’var Torah...

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Group of adults and children with disabilities together lighting a twisted Havdalah candle

Although children with disabilities make up approximately 20% of Jewish students, until recent years, few Jewish educational services were available to them. In 2001, two determined parents, Jennifer and Erik Bittner, founded the organization Etgar L’Noar (Hebrew for “The Children’s Challenge:) with a handful of other parents and with the support of their synagogue, to provide a Jewish education for their two sons with autism, and a Sunday morning Hebrew school was born. Soon after, Jennifer and I agreed to become the board’s co-president.

Volunteers helped build the organization,...

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About Inside Leadership

Inside Leadership, the blog at, is a source for Reform Jewish leaders to get the latest news and though-provoking articles about Jewish communal life.