Zoberman reflects on Yoffie

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 3:00pm

My distinguished colleague and dear friend, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, was ordained as a Reform rabbi in 1974, just like me, at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Whereas he attended the New York City Branch of the seminary, I was at the Cincinnati one which dates back to 1875 and is the oldest of the four campuses.

Rabbi Yoffie, President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), is a rabbi’s rabbi and a true “mensch”, who has left an indelible mark on the largest religious Jewish movement in America which he led with distinction from 1996 to 2012. Prior to it he served as executive director of ARZA, the Association of the Reform Zionists of America.

While president of URJ his emphasis was on greater engagement with Torah study as well as joyful celebration of Shabbat. In the spirit of K’lal Yisrael he challenged Reform Jews to also deepen their bond with the State of Israel, while urging the Jewish state to reflect a pluralistic Jewish world, recognizing the non-Orthodox religious movements.

Active in the interfaith arena, Rabbi Yoffie pioneered with new initiatives involving both Evangelical Christians and Muslims. His friendly style is forthright and dignified.

It is indeed an honor and treat to host someone of Rabbi Yoffie’s stature in the midst of embracing Hampton Roads, and show him our authentic southern hospitality of a most “Hamish” Jewish community.

Rabbi Israel Zoberman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Chaverim in Virginia Beach.

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