In a landmark decision, the Jewish reform movement becomes first Jewish denomination to endorse fossil fuel divestment

The move is the largest effort yet by a major Jewish institution to confront the climate crisis with ethical financing; adds to the 1600 institutions that have committed to divest over $40 trillion in assets.

The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) – the largest Jewish movement in North America, representing nearly three million Jews – just announced that it approved a resolution recommending its institutions pull their money out of fossil fuels and engage in shareholder advocacy with other polluting industries.

This recommendation is the most significant effort by a major Jewish institution to withhold financial backing for the leading driver of climate change: fossil fuels. It signifies a growing recognition that finance is a critical lever to end the era of fossil fuels and avoid climate catastrophe. 

While the resolution is non-binding on Reform entities, it provides clear ethical recommendations to the more than 850 Reform synagogues across the country, the URJ itself, and entities like the Reform Pension Board (with holdings in excess of $1.4 billion [citation]). (Many Reform entities such as synagogues and the URJ itself do not make their investment holdings publicly available.) 

The resolution also calls for “engagement in shareholder advocacy with companies adjacent to or supporting the fossil fuel industry,” and for investments in clean energy. 

The URJ voted to approve the resolution after more than a year of study, consultation, and discussion that included input from all major Reform movement entities. The vote also comes on the heels of a historic announcement from Oregon’s two Jewish Federations, which in March became the first Federations in the country to commit to screen fossil fuels out of their investments (JTA, eJewish Philanthropy; op-ed from the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland). 

More than 1600 institutions have made a commitment to move their investment dollars out of fossil fuels, representing over $40 trillion in assets. More than a third of those institutions are faith-based. While few Jewish institutions have participated to this point, that number is growing with these recent announcements. With 2023 the hottest year on-record, the urgency for additional Jewish institutions to pledge to act also grows.  

The impact of the Reform movement’s recommendation to move money to fossil-free products is significant not just for its moral leadership; it sends a significant market signal to financial institutions–such as large asset managers and banks–that an increasing number of clients no longer want to be profiting from the devastating impacts of climate change, and they need to adjust their investment offerings accordingly. 


  • Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, CEO and Founder of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action:
    “We have a short window to address the climate crisis and sustain the planet for the long term –
    l’dor v’dor – from generation to generation. I commend the Reform Movement for drawing a clear ethical line around ensuring our investments are not furthering climate destruction. Now is the moment for all Jewish institutions to follow the Reform movement’s leadership and make their own public commitments to move their investments out of fossil fuels and instead invest toward a just and livable clean energy future. Dayenu was pleased to support the URJ through its process and stands ready to assist any and all Jewish institutions ready to take this step.” 
  • Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman, URJ North American Board Chair: “Climate change’s impacts are being felt in communities worldwide. We have the ability and responsibility to use our dollars to make a positive difference on climate, rather than to continue funding investment in damaging fossil fuels.
  • Barbara Weinstein, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, wrote in a blog for URJ:
    “Each year is warmer than the last, extreme weather events are happening with greater frequency, droughts and floods are devastating crops, and famine is becoming more widespread. We can and must do more to heed God’s words and stop the damage we are doing to the earth….With this new resolution, we aim to join the vanguard of those in the Jewish community using the power of their investments to ‘till and tend the earth,’ as Adam and Eve were placed by God to do for the Garden of Eden.
  • Rabbi Zoë Klein Miles, a rabbi at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles:
    “Our faith values teach us that humanity will float or sink together – and the climate crisis is a vivid example. As a large Reform synagogue with a strong commitment to justice, we are grateful for the URJ’s clear moral guidance about the importance of moving our investments out of coal, oil, and gas, the primary drivers of the climate crisis. If money is the oxygen on which the fires of global warming burn, hopefully together we can put out the fire.”


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