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San Diego – The head of the largest branch of American Judaism is urging members of the movement to do more to observe Shabbat.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a speech to the group’s biennial convention that stressed families need a day when they can “stop running around long enough to see what God is doing.”
After decades of modernizing Jewish observance for the movement, the liberal group has been embracing more traditional religious practices. Yoffie also urged Reform Jews to make a commitment to attend Saturday morning worship.
In other action, Yoffie and Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America, announced a new partnership that promotes interfaith dialogue and other relationship-building activities.
The Islamic Society, based in Indiana, is one of the biggest Muslim organizations in the country. Last summer, Yoffie became the first rabbi from a major Jewish group to address the society’s annual meeting.
Mattson addressed the San Diego gathering, which ended Dec. 16. The Union for Reform Judaism represents more than 900 synagogues in North America.
“As a once-persecuted minority in countries where anti-Semitism is still a force, we understand the plight of Muslims in North America today,” Yoffie said.
Said Mattson, “If religion is about anything, it should be about the ability to extend empathy beyond our own family or tribe or religious community to humanity at large.”
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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