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In 1952 at Morningside College in Sioux City he earned a B.A., and from there went to New York City to study in the Jewish Theological Seminary of America; here he became ordained as a rabbi in 1959. He then became a staff member of the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), the international organization of rabbis in Conservative Judaism.
He soon began work as a liturgist on the RA's prayerbook committee, working with Rabbi Gershon Hadas on new siddurim (Jewish prayerbooks) for use in Conservative congregations. Under the editorship of Rabbi Hadas, they succeeded in printing the widely used Weekday Prayer Book in 1961. He took a greater role by editing and translating the movement's mahzor (prayerbook for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) which was published in 1972. He soon became the chief liturgist for the Conservative movement, and was the editor in the groundbreaking Siddur Sim Shalom in 1985. Siddur Sim Shalom became the prototype for an entire family of later Conservative siddurim, including Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Yom Tov, Siddur Sim Shalom for Weekdays and Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom. Among his many other important publishing activities within Conservative Judaism is his work as literary editor on the Etz Hayim: A Torah Commentary.
Rabbi Jules Harlow, together with his wife, Navah, has played a paramount role in the cause of the Bnei Anusim (descendents of crypto-Jews) in Lisbon, Portugal. Thanks to the Harlows' assistance in cooperation with Masorti Olami, the Bnei Anusim of Lisbon have been able to return to the Jewish faith, and a new congregation (Kehilat Beit Israel) has been founded in Lisbon, namely the first non-orthodox synagogue in the history of Portugal.
- The Rabbinical Assembly
- Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur:Rabbinical Assembly, a prayer book for the Days of Awe 1978
- Etz Hayim: A Torah Commentary, Ed. David Lieber, Jules Harlow, Chaim Potok and Harold Kushner, The Jewish Publication Society, NY, 2001
- Rabbi Jules and Navah Harlow report on their recent trip to Lisbon & Madrid