CRC mulls URJ status in meeting


Members of Central Reform Congregation met on Sunday for a discussion about the temple’s ties with the Union for Reform Judaism, as part of a process of determining whether or not CRC will remain a member of URJ.

CRC’s board will decide at its July meeting how the decision-making process will proceed, said Jennifer Bersdale, director of advocacy and communications for CRC.

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The meeting, she said, was to help inform members about the issue and to hold a discussion of the URJ and CRC’s membership in the organization.

CRC members heard from Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism (RAC) and Rabbi Lane Steinger, regional director of the URJ, Midwest Council.

While CRC requested that media not attend the meeting, Bersdale spoke to the Jewish Light after the meeting.

She said Rabbi Saperstein and Rabbi Lane Steinger, director of the Midwest Council of the URJ, opened the meeting by speaking about the importance of the Reform Movement, the benefits of involvement with URJ and what the URJ means to them personally, before opening the floor for questions.

Rabbi Steinger declined to speak about the meeting with the Light, citing the congregation’s privacy.

After Saperstein and Steinger left, CRC members held a candid discussion of the issue, Bersdale said.

“The congregation offered lots of different opinions on the best path forward for CRC,” she said. Bersdale declined to give specifics about the issues raised at the meeting, or the number of CRC members who attended.

She said the board organized the meeting to inform congregants and solicit opinions in advance of any decision on CRC’s membership status with the URJ.

“They set it up that way in order to honor the voices of our members …so they would have a chance to hear from our members before designing the full process,” Bersdale said.

“The next step in our process is that the board of directors will meet again in July and they will take what they heard from members at the meeting and determine the next step in the process, wanting this to be a congregational decision and not just a small group of CRC members,” she said.

Bersdale emphasized that no specific decisions were made at the meeting, and that the CRC board’s decision at the July meeting will only be to determine the process of making a congregational decision on the issue.

CRC, along with eight other St. Louis area Reform congregations, are members of the URJ, the congregational arm of the Reform Movement in North America.

Congregations contribute dues to be part of URJ, which helps support the Reform Movement and provides services and support to temples. According to a URJ fact sheet, 83 percent of URJ’s $23.3 million budget for 2007-2008 comes from congregational dues.