Scott Reich actually enjoyed Hebrew school. “I loved the stories about how things came to be, the traditions,” he said.
His love for his hometown of Roslyn, L.I., his family’s synagogue there, and even that early Hebrew school experience (“The teachers did a great job,”) made a deep impression. Today a corporate attorney for Willkie Farr & Gallagher in Midtown, Reich retains his strong connection to Jewish institutional life.
Last year, he became the youngest member of the North American board of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the umbrella organization that leads the Reform movement. Working with Rabbi Michael White of Temple Sinai in Roslyn, he founded “Sinai in the City,” a young professionals’ group comprised of 20- and 30-somethings who hail from Roslyn and elsewhere, which holds events in Manhattan and boasts 150 participants. Issues that preoccupy a graying Jewish leadership in the U.S. call him to action as well.
“There are the same number of Jews in the U.S. as there were after World War II,” he said. “Keeping young people interested is a glaring need.”
His work on the URJ board has included contributing thoughts on how to build a “big tent” that appeals to young people and ways to promote the Biennial, the Reform movement’s largest event.
And his commitment to service is not limited to the Jewish community: through the New York Legal Assistance Group, he has done pro bono legal work for asylum seekers from Yemen, Tibet and the Republic of Congo, and has also volunteered legal services for Brooklyn Family Court.
Lessons of history: Reich’s other great interest is politics. He wrote a book, “The Power of Citizenship: Why John F. Kennedy Matters to a New Generation,” about extracting lessons from JFK’s presidency. It is slated for release in October. “The more I looked at Kennedy’s major speeches, the more I saw a central theme: the idea of citizenship, that we belong to a community larger than ourselves, that we have the obligation to give back to society and each other.”