Rabbi Vernon Kurtz is the Rabbi of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Illinois. He was born in Toronto, Canada, received his B.A. from York University (1971), his M.A. and Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary (1976), and his Doctor of Ministry degree from the Chicago Theological Seminary (1981). He also received a Doctor of Divinity degree (Honoris Causa) from the Jewish Theological Seminary (2003).
Rabbi Kurtz is President of the American Zionist Movement. He is an associate member of the Board of Governors of the Jewish Agency for Israel, has been elected to its Executive, and serves as deputy chairman of its Russian Speaking Jewry Committee. He is past President of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis, and was a member for many years of the Rabbinical Assembly Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. He served for 10 years as a member of the Leadership Council of Conservative Judaism. Rabbi Kurtz is a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, and he previously served two terms on the Board, including a term as Vice-Chairman. Rabbi Kurtz is a member of the Board of the Jewish People Policy Institute.
Rabbi Kurtz has served in leadership positions in the areas of Jewish communal and interfaith activities. He has been President of MERCAZ USA; President of MERCAZ Olami, the world-wide Zionist organization of the Conservative movement; President of the Chicago Board of Rabbis; Chairman of the United Jewish Appeal Rabbinic Cabinet; and President of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago. Rabbi Kurtz is the recipient of the Rabbinic Award from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, Council of Jewish Federations (1984 and 1985); the Young Leadership Award from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (1985); the Rabbi Simon Greenberg Rabbinic Achievement Award from The Jewish Theological Seminary (1998); the State of Israel Bonds Jerusalem Covenant Award (1996); the State of Israel Bonds Star of David Award (2008); the Rabbi Mordecai Simon Memorial Award from the Chicago Board of Rabbis (2008); the Julius Rosenwald Memorial Award from the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago (2010); and the Rabbi Mordecai Waxman Memorial Rabbinic and Community Leadership Award from Masorti Olami (2011). Rabbi Kurtz is adjunct Professor of Rabbinics at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership. He has authored teshuvot for the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards of the Rabbinical Assembly and has published many articles in periodicals and books. Currently, he is a monthly Torah commentator for the Chicago Jewish News and a Senior Rabbinic Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Kurtz and his wife, Bryna, are the parents of two daughters, Hadassa (Haim) who lives in Israel and Shira who works at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C. as a neuropsychologist. He is the proud saba of Shmuel Binyamin, Meytal Dvora, and Anael Rina.
Rabbi Kurtz served as a Board Member since June 2005 through June 2011. Since than he serves as an Associate Member. From October 2002 since through 2005 he served as a Committee Member. Currently he is the Deputy Chair of the Russian Speaking Jewry Committee. .