Rabbi Jonah Pesner is the Senior Vice President of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). Rabbi Pesner collaborates with Reform congregations and communities across North America and in Israel. He develops new strategies and innovations to advance the goals of the Reform Movement. An alumnus of the North American Federation of Temple Youth and URJ Eisner Camp, he also leads the Campaign for Youth Engagement, a bold initiative to retain teens in Jewish life after they become b'nai mitzvah. Additionally, Rabbi Pesner teaches on all four campuses of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.
Prior to joining the senior leadership of the URJ, Rabbi Pesner served as the Founding Director of Just Congregations, the groundbreaking community organizing effort of the URJ. In that role, he led efforts to engage thousands of members of congregations to join together in successful campaigns for health care access, affordable housing, public education, gay and lesbian rights, nursing care workers rights, and living wage.
In 2010, Rabbi Pesner was honored with the Rabbinic Award by Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) for his leadership in the Boston community, and is currently serving as the scholar-in-residence of CJP's "Acharai" leadership development program.
In an earlier role as a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston, from 1999-2006 -- and a leader of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization -- Rabbi Pesner led the Massachusetts "Affordable Care Today!" coalition that successfully secured health care for more than half a million uninsured residents of the Commonwealth. Rabbi Pesner's first pulpit position was at Temple Israel in Westport, CT, from 1997-1999.
Rabbi Pesner is the founding Chair of the Board of JOIN for Justice (the Jewish Organizing Institute and Network) and served as Chair of the Board of the Jewish Organizing Initiative (JOI). He has served on the board of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Memorial Hospital and the Task Force on Congregation-Based Community Organizing of the Jewish Funds for Justice.
Rabbi Pesner has written numerous journal articles, and has contributed essays to a variety of publications. He was the Meyer W. Nathans Scholar at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where he was ordained in 1997.
A graduate of Wesleyan University, Rabbi Pesner is married to Boston attorney, Dana S. Gershon. Together they have four daughters, Juliet, Noa, Bobbie and Cate.