BH - URJ Press Transition FAQ's

Questions you may have about the Behrman House/URJ Press alliance

Q: Why have Behrman House and URJ Press aligned in this way?

A: Under the guidelines of a new strategic plan, the URJ, which published a variety of materials including Torah commentaries, religious school curricula, study materials, Jewish fiction and poetry, cookbooks, children’s books, and more, announced it would discontinue its in-house publishing operation.

“As we took a hard look at the future, it became clear that the URJ’s real strength is in our congregations, and that we could and should find publishing partners who will do a better job serving our congregations and advancing our goals than we are able to do on our own,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the URJ.

The URJ’s titles have found homes at Behrman House Publishing and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). Michael Goldberg, who served as Publisher and Editor in Chief of the URJ Books and Music division for the past six years will now serve as the director of Knowledge Management on the URJ’s Strengthening Congregations team.

Q: When will this take place?

A: As of June 15 we have officially closed, and have the right to publish and sell 222 URJ Press titles. We continue to work with the URJ to get clear permission on the remaining titles. A list of titles we have permission to sell is available here. We update it daily.

Q: Where will I get the books and materials I need?

A: Behrman House is the home for educational materials, including Mitkadem, Chai, Chaverim B’Ivrit, the Parashat Hashavua B’nei Mitzvah booklets, and a large catalog of other educational materials. Behrman House will also be home to trade titles such as EntrĂ©e to Judaism, Everyone is Welcome, and Jewish U. The CCAR will oversee the Reform Movement’s sacred texts, including The Torah: A Modern Commentary; A Commentary for Our Times; the Women’s Torah Commentary; and The Haftarah Commentary.

Q: How should I order materials?

A: You can place now orders through Behrman House for the URJ Press educational materials and trade titles for which we have permission by phone, fax, or on our website. For a list of available titles, please click here. We update this list each day. If you placed an order with the URJ Press on or after June 1, the order will be transferred to Behrman House before June 30 and we will ship all those materials we have permission to sell. You can place orders for commentaries through the CCAR.

Q: A title I want to order is listed as unavailable; when can I get it?

A:  Some titles are temporarily unavailable as we get the stock from the URJ Press distribution facility in Atlanta. We expect to have all those titles in house and available by July 24.

There are currently a number of titles we are not allowed to sell. We are working with the URJ to clear permissions for all these remaining URJ Press titles. Unfortunately, we do not know how long in will take to get the permissions required under U.S. Copyright law for us to publish and sell these works. In some cases, it is possible that we will not be able to sell these titles. You can check this list to see which titles we are still seeking permission to sell.

Q: What happens to my URJ membership discount?

A: Many schools and congregations received member discounts as a result of the yearly MUM dues paid to the URJ. The closing of the URJ Press means that URJ membership dues will no longer support any publishing activities. Behrman House obviously is not a membership organization. Nevertheless, we recognize that many schools set their budgets for the coming year months ago. Therefore we are making no changes in listed prices for URJ Press materials as we acquire those titles. We are also working to keep school budgets whole by as much as possible honoring the discounts member organizations received last year. We have a list of these from URJ Press and will use that to govern discounts this year. Also, if you have invoices from this past school year that indicate your discounts, you can fax or email those to us and request that rate for the same purchases this year. Ultimately we seek to create a fair pricing and discount system that applies equally to all school and congregation customers, regardless of denomination or past affiliation.

Q: I ordered materials from the URJ before June 15. When will I get them?

A: Orders placed with the URJ between June 1 and the closing on June 15 were held as backorders. We began processing those orders June 22, and are contacting all those customers now to confirm your orders. Iff you have questions about an order placed during this time, please call us at 800-221-2755.

Q: How do I return URJ materials? 

A: URJ Press policy was to accept returns for up to 90 days after purchase. If you ordered and received materials from the URJ within 90 days before the closing on June 15, please contact the URJ directly through their Contact Us form. If you ordered and received materials from Behrman House AFTER the June 15 closing, please contact Behrman House. Behrman House policy is to accept returns of unused, salable materials purchased from us for one year after purchase. We are sorry, but Behrman House cannot accept returns of URJ Press materials purchased from the URJ.

Q: What will happen to Chai and Mitkadem?

A: These key educational materials will continue to be available exactly as they have been. We are still seekgin permissions for some CHAI materials and for Mitkadem digital materials. For at least the first year we will make no changes to either CHAI or Mitkadem print materials as we assess how widely they are used, what improvements educators seek for them, and consider our options for making them more useful in a rapidly changing educational world. Behrman House looks forward to developing new ways to advance these curricula and make use of 21st century technology to bring them to schools in a variety of ways.

Q: Where will I go for training in Chai and Mitkadem and also for curriculum consulting in general?

A: Joan Carr and Marlene Myerson, who consulted on CHAI and Mitkadem for URJ Press have joined the Behrman House team in their roles as consultants to schools and congregations. They can be reached through our direct  number, 800-221-2755 at extension 234 (Joan) and 235 (Marlene). You can also request help through our regular customer support email. The Behrman House Customer Support team is becoming fully familiar with URJ Press materials as well.

Q: Does this mean Behrman House is becoming a Reform publishing company?

A: Behrman House has a long and distinguished history of publishing for all the movements with a sense of deep respect for each. Our commitment to this pluralistic tradition is equaled by our feeling of honor to be entrusted with these and other vital heritage materials.  As an example, we will continue to publish The Traditional Prayer Book by David DeSola Pool, the Bokser Siddur, and Conservative movement versions of Siddur Mah Tov as well as works by Rabbi David Wolpe, Rabbi Bradley Artson, Rabbi Neil Gillman, and others.

Q: How will Behrman House maintain the Reform spirit of these publications?

A: Behrman House looks forward to advancing these important materials, and will work in consultation with the URJ and Editorial Committees from the Reform movement to ensure that any revisions preserve and extend the uniquely Reform perspectives of these books and materials.

Q: Will other schools have access to these materials, or are they only sold to Reform congregations?

A: The URJ Press materials will remain available for any school or group who wishes to use them. Educator materials for using Chai and Mitkadem in conservative congregations are already available on the URJ Press site, and will continue to be available.

Q: What if I have other questions?

A: You have a variety of resources for answering your questions (and any concerns) about this new venture. A number of community members, including Robin Eisenberg, Lesley Litman, Steven Rau, and Lori Sagarin, have generously agreed to serve as our Transition Advisory Council. In addition, Marlene Myerson and Joan Carr from the URJ side and David Behrman, Vicki Weber, and Terry Kaye on the Behrman House side are all available to take your questions. Finally, you can always reach out to our Customer Support Team by calling 800-221-2755 or emailing customersupport@behrmanhouse.com.  We will direct your inquiry to the appropriate person.