Union for Reform Judaism announces layoffs, furloughs

“The impact of COVID-19 on all of our revenue streams has been crushing, and we anticipate it will take several years to recover,” Jacobs wrote. “Consequently, our organization must get smaller.”

abbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, speaks at the group's biennial in Chicago about combating racism, Dec. 12, 2019 (photo credit: COURTESY OF THE UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM VIA JTA)
abbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, speaks at the group's biennial in Chicago about combating racism, Dec. 12, 2019
(photo credit: COURTESY OF THE UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM VIA JTA)
Two weeks after announcing the cancellation of its summer programs in the United States and Israel, the Union for Reform Judaism announced staff layoffs Wednesday.
Approximately 60 full-time employees, constituting 20% of the organization’s staff, were laid off. The organization also implemented a temporary pay reduction between 3-16% which began in April. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, took a 16% pay cut as did the rest of the executive team.
In an email to staff, board members, and community leaders, Jacobs pinned the layoffs on the coronavirus pandemic, which has induced a sweeping financial crisis.
“The impact of COVID-19 on all of our revenue streams has been crushing, and we anticipate it will take several years to recover,” Jacobs wrote. “Consequently, our organization must get smaller.”
The layoffs, which were announced Wednesday, would go into effect June 30. Jacobs said the organization would also be furloughing additional employees. The furloughs, in which employees are not paid and do not work but are expected to return, would last from June 1 to Aug 31, he said.
The Union for Reform Judaism is the umbrella organization for the Reform movement in North America. The organization provides program support and leadership development to synagogues and oversees the movement’s summer camps, youth groups, and social justice work.