The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) is closing its publishing program through URJ Press and partnering with Behrman House Publishing and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) to provide publications for the Reform Judaism movement.
The shuttering of URJ Press gives most of its backlist of education and trade titles to Behrman House; CCAR Press will become the publisher of Torah commentaries. Stephen Sacks, chairman of the URJ’s North American Board of Trustees, said in a statement announcing the changes, “Both of our new publishing partners are committed to innovation and to making ancient texts and teaching come alive through new technologies. Both will be good stewards of our materials.”
Mark Pelavin, chief program officer at URJ, says both houses will be involved in publishing new materials for the Reform community. “They’ll be developed by both CCAR and Behrman House, some drawing on materials they’ll get from us,” he said.
Behrman House acquires significant responsibility for serving the Reform Jewish community as well as a backlist of more than 400 books, close to 90 percent of URJ Press titles. “These books represent a lot of the heritage of the Reform Movement,” said David Behrman, president and publisher of the family-owned Behrman House in Springfield, N.J.
The transition date for orders is approximately June 1, with a precise date to be determined. The agreement means expansion for Behrman House, which adds two staffers who will move from URJ to provide curriculum consultation and support. Behrman House also plans to add another editorial position that focuses on educational engagement.
Behrman House is not, however, becoming an exclusively Reform publisher. “We will continue our pluralistic practices,” Behrman said.
Behrman House’s future plans include a children’s trade line, Apples and Honey Press, scheduled to debut at BEA next month. Founded in 1921, the house offers a digital platform specifically for Jewish education. Its authors include Abba Eban, Eugene Borowitz, Mordecai Kaplan, Milton Steinberg, Brad Artson, and David Wolpe.
The Central Conference of American Rabbis is the rabbinic leadership organization of Reform Judaism; CCAR Press has published the Reform movement’s major prayer books as well as Passover haggadot and other texts on Jewish life and learning.