Founders’ Day, the annual joint Shabbat program by area Reform congregations noting Isaac Mayer Wise and Stephen S. Wise, the founders of the major institutions of Reform Judaism in America, will be held at Temple Berith Sholom 167 Third St., Troy on Friday, March 23. A service at 7 p.m. will be followed by an oneg.
Keynote speaker will be Evan Traylor, the inaugural Presidential Fellow for Millennial Engagement at the Union for Reform Judaism. In this role, he is focused on connecting and inspiring the next generation of caretakers of the traditions and rituals of religious life.
Traylor says that it’s important to remember that millennials range in age from 17 to 37. “Among all of the shifting trends and complaining about millennials, it’s so important for our Jewish community to recognize that Jewish millennials are proud of who we are,” Traylor adds. “We may not always agree with the Jewish community’s decisions and programs, but we’re proud to be Jewish. The millennial generation represents new energy and optimism that will change our Jewish community, society, and world for the better. We just need the opportunities to make it happen. A whopping 95% of Jewish millennials say they’re proud to be Jewish.”
A recent graduate of the University of Kansas, Traylor studied political science, Jewish studies, and leadership studies. As a student he was an engagement intern for University of Kansas Hillel, a trustee on the URJ Board, a student member of the Hillel International Board of Directors, and a co-founder of the Hillel International Student Cabinet. He is an alum of URJ Greene Family Camp, NFTY in Israel, and URJ Kutz Camp, and he served as the 2012-2013 North American President of NFTY. He is a native of Edmond, Okla.
Rabbi Debora S. Gordon of Berith Sholom says of Traylor: “I met Evan Traylor at the URJ Biennial last December and was immediately inspired by his dynamic presence and his love of Judaism. We are honored to host him for Founders’ Day and delighted to give young Reform Jews a chance to network with him and with each other, as well as to reassure our elders that our current work and commitment will lead to a healthy Jewish future.”
Isaac Mayer Wise and Stephen S. Wise, were the founders of the major institutions of Reform Judaism in America: the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union for Reform Judaism and Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
Isaac Mayer Wise was born March 29, 1819, and died in 1900 on the 25th of II Adar. Stephen S. Wise was born March 17, 1874, and died in April 1949 at the end of Passover. Consequently, in the Capital Region the day is observed on the last Shabbat in March with a joint service of all the congregations. This year, Berith Sholom in Troy, recognized in New York State as the oldest building in continuous use as a temple, is hosting the event on March 23 as the last Shabbat of March begins Passover this year.
Other participating congregations are B’nai Sholom Reform Congregation, Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany, Congregation Gates of Heaven in Schenectady and Temple Sinai in Saratoga Springs.