New York – The Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative/Masorti movement rabbis, announced today the selection of Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal of Shaare Torah in Gaithersburg, MD as its new chief executive.
Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, president of the RA, welcomed Blumenthal’s appointment, calling him “someone who will make a real impact on our rabbis and our global movement.” “I have worked with Rabbi Blumenthal over the years. He has a great understanding of the needs of our rabbis and our movement,” she said. “Jacob will be an amazing leader and partner. It’s a wonderful choice.”
Rabbi Harold Kravitz and Rabbi Cheryl Peretz, who served as co-chairs of the selection committee, were equally pleased with the council’s decision, saying they are “happy the Executive Council was able to come to such a decision in affirming our recommendation for this important position. We believe Jacob has the ability to look at innovative ways to move forward our movement and its rabbis. We’re delighted,” they said.
Rabbi Blumenthal says he sees his role as CE as one of caring for Conservative rabbis. He is excited to be implementing the RA’s new strategic vision, he says, one he played an integral role in developing.
Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal has spent his entire career focusing on growing Jewish communities, from USY chapters to his own bustling congregation in suburban Maryland. Following his ordination and graduation from JTS Rabbinical School in 1999, he officially joined Shaare Torah in its startup phase, after leading High Holiday services there for several years as a rabbinical student. Rabbi Blumenthal has played a critical role in expanding the synagogue and its programs to the community at large.
In addition to his congregational work, Rabbi Blumenthal has served on several committees and commissions in the Rabbinical Assembly and other international Jewish organizations. He helped create the Faith Community Advisory Council for Montgomery County and hired its first director. He has worked to develop “visionary ecosystem thinking,” as he calls it, among congregations in the Washington-Baltimore area. He also played a leading role in the development of a Ramah DC day camp in partnership with Camp Ramah New England that now serves 250 kids. Furthermore, Rabbi Blumenthal helped introduce the Jewish Millennials Engagement Project, reaching the many post-college, pre-settling down young Jews in the DC area as a collaboration of 12 Conservative congregations in the region.
The RA chief executive has overall responsibility for implementing the mission and vision of the RA, serves as a voice for Conservative/Masorti Judaism’s values and practices and leads Rabbinical Assembly efforts to magnify the voice of rabbis, strengthen the Conservative movement and coordinate joint efforts with the various movement organizations.
Ned Gladstein, president of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and a board member of the Jewish Theological Seminary, also praised the decision and offered congratulations both to the RA and to Rabbi Blumenthal. “Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal is uniquely qualified to become the chief executive of the Rabbinical Assembly. He is an accomplished pulpit rabbi with a demonstrated ability to build consensus in the broader Jewish Community, and is an innovative yet practical thinker with exciting ideas for the movement’s future,” Gladstein says. “As the Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue strive to deepen their collaboration at this critical time, I am delighted that Rabbi Blumenthal will occupy this key position, and look forward to working closely with him in the coming years.”
Blumenthal’s appointment also enjoys the support of RA members who are employed in many types of organizational settings, such as Rabbi Mike Uram, director of Hillel at University of Pennsylvania, who says he, too, “couldn’t be more excited” about the selection. “Jacob is known as an outstanding Jewish innovator and change agent. For nearly two decades, Jacob has been the kind of leader who is never satisfied with the status quo. Rather than just sustaining an organization, Jacob invents new ways to create moments of transformative impact,” Uram says. “More than that, Jacob brings a deep sense of personal warmth and an authentic style of leadership that will inject new energy, passion and vision for the future of Conservative Judaism.”
Rabbi Blumenthal will begin his role as chief executive in July 2019.
He succeeds Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, who announced last year her desire to step down, having served the RA since 2001, including for a decade as its CEO. Rabbi Schonfeld called her colleague “a sharp and innovative rabbi who colleagues describe as a go-getter in the movement” and added that she is “beyond thrilled that this important position in the movement and in American Judaism is going to a true change maker.”
In addition, the RA also announced today that its director of operations Rabbi Ashira Konigsburg would be elevated to chief operating officer. Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin said “Rabbi Konigsburg is dedicated to the mission of the Rabbinical Assembly and we are thrilled she will be working for the organization in this new capacity. The Rabbinical Assembly is blessed to have a wonderful staff with such strong leadership.”
About the Rabbinical Assembly
The Rabbinical Assembly is the international association of Conservative rabbis. Since its founding in 1901, the Assembly has been the creative force shaping the ideology, programs, and practices of the Conservative movement, and is committed to building and strengthening the totality of Jewish life. The Assembly publishes learned texts, prayer books, and works of Jewish interest; and it administers the work of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards for the Conservative movement. It also serves the professional and personal needs of its membership through publications, conferences, and benefit programs, and it coordinates the Joint Placement Commission of the Conservative movement. Rabbis of the Assembly serve congregations throughout the world, and also work as educators, officers of communal service organizations, and college, hospital, and military chaplains.