National Reform leaders to speak in New Orleans

DSJV Archive

New Orleans will welcome two major events with Union of Reform Judaism leadership this month.

On June 12, the URJ will hold its board meeting in New Orleans, and that night URJ President Rabbi Eric Yoffie will speak at the community’s joint summer Shabbat service. The program during the 6:15 p.m. service will be a panel on “How We Did It: Managing as Congregations Through Difficult and Trying Times.”

Immediately after Hurricane Katrina, the Reform movement established a Save Our Synagogues fund that kept the local Reform congregations open during the recovery.

From June 25 to 28, the Men of Reform Judaism will hold its 42nd biennial convention in New Orleans. This is the second time the organization has met in New Orleans in a show of post-hurricane support.

Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center, will be the keynote speaker. The convention includes hands-on Katrina relief projects with the Kingsley House.

On June 26, John Shalett of New Orleans will be installed as the North American president of Men of Reform Judaism. He will become the third member of Temple Sinai to hold that position, following Roger Jacobs and Irving Shnaider. Temple Sinai Rabbi Edward Cohn and Gates of Prayer Rabbi Robert Loewy will officiate at the installation.

The June 26 service will be at 7:15 p.m.

A Louisiana State University graduate, Shalett has spent his entire career as a social worker while serving in various administrative, executive and teaching positions. While living in Southern California he served as President of Temple Beth Israel, Pomona, Calif., and as a board member of the Eastern Region of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles. He and his wife, EllenRae, were honored by their congregation by being bestowed the Crown of the Good Name Award in 1991. Upon leaving California, the Temple Beth Israel Board of Trustees bestowed honorary life membership to John and EllenRae.

After returning to New Orleans in 1990, he served as President of the Gates of Prayer Brotherhood and also as a board member of Jewish Family Service of New Orleans. He was first elected to the board of the then National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods in 1997.

In addition to the MRJ position, he will also serve as President of the Jewish Chautauqua Society. He serves on the Union for Reform Judaism’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns Executive Committee and will join the Board of the Union for Reform Judaism in June 2009.