A member of the rabbinate for more than four decades, Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs has spent his career as an advocate on behalf of social change, spirituality, and civil rights. In service of this commitment, he established the Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs Progressive Faith Foundation, an organization devoted to interfaith dialogue and community. Until his recent retirement, he also served as the spiritual leader of Temple Kol Tikvah, a Reform congregation he founded in 1984. Active in the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, he has developed a close relationship with Reverend Jesse Jackson. In partnership with Reverend Jackson, Rabbi Jacobs has traveled internationally to promote peace, justice, and global understanding in locations such as the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East. Domestically, he has worked to promote tolerance and cooperation among the African American, Jewish, and Muslim communities of Los Angeles.
At the beginning of his life as a rabbi, Rabbi Jacobs worked with university-based congregations in West Virginia and Illinois; he subsequently relocated to Florida, where he served Temple Israel of Greater Miami in the role of Assistant Rabbi. In this early position at one of the southern United States’ most vibrant Reform synagogues, he aided temple leader Rabbi Joseph Narot in all aspects of the congregation’s spiritual activity. From 1970 until 1984 he led the Tarzana, California, community of Temple Judea, initially as Co-Rabbi and later as Senior Rabbi.
Rabbi Steven B. Jacobs received his rabbinical training at the Reform Jewish Seminary of Hebrew Union College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Hebrew Letters. In 1961, he completed a BA in Sociology at the Bronx campus of New York University. A native of Brookline, Massachusetts, he attended Temple Kehillath Israel as a child and is a 1957 graduate of Brookline High School. Growing up in the earliest days of the civil rights movement had a profound impact on Rabbi Jacobs’ worldview and helped to shape his focus as a rabbi.