CCAR Mayl 2011 Newsletter - 1
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים
Volume 58 – Number 8
CCAR CHIEF EXECUTIVE, Steven A. Fox uring the March CCAR Convention in New Orleans, colleagues continued to build upon the CCAR’s visioning conversations of the last several years looking to the future of Reform Jewish life. These CCAR conversations have focused on imagining a vibrant and evolving Reform Movement, dreaming how the future Jewish community might look and function, seeking to identify opportunities for change, considering the needs and desires of Reform Jews in the next twenty to thirty years, and most importantly, exploring how Reform rabbis will lead us into the future. These conversations were founded upon principles of inclusion, responsibility, and choice for all Reform rabbis. This article contains a timeline of the many conversations about the future which led to the Convention program, as well as the themes which emerged from the voices of hundreds of rabbis and lay people over these two years.
FROM THE PRESIDENT Jonathan A. Stein
CCAR Continues to Look the the Future of Reform Jewish Life: An Overview
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your President. I am honored and humbled by your display of confidence in me and I pledge that I will try my best to fulfill my responsibilities with compassion, energy and integrity. I will always strive to be responsive to your requests, suggestions and feedback. I hope to use this column to continue to keep you up-to-date on current issues facing the CCAR. Keeping open the lines of communication is crucial to our success, so please help me keep on track by being in touch and offering your comments and feedback on a regular basis. I would like to report to you on three topics that have continued to develop since our Convention in New Orleans: our Task Force on the Future of the Rabbinate, the Reform Think Tank and the Rabbinic Vision Initiative. Our colleagues Judy Schindler and Ken Chasen will serve as co-chairs of our Task Force. We are currently in the process of populating this group. Please contact me to indicate your interest to serve. The Task Force is charged with exploring the future of the rabbinate over the next 25 years (including such topics as how we serve community-based rabbis, the impact and status of female rabbis and gay and lesbian colleagues, the increased number of under-and unemployed rabbis), preparing a statement on what it means to be a Reform rabbi in the 21st Century and exploring our organizational relationships within Reform Judaism and outside our movement with the goal of increasing our ability to cooperate, coordinate and collaborate successfully with our partners in service to the Jewish people. It is my hope that the members of the Task Force will present an interim report during our Boston Convention next year and a final one in Long Beach in 2013. Please direct your input and questions to Judy and Ken as well as to our
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ensure the centrality of rabbinic leadership in the coming years. Certainly the Movement-wide visioning process will shape our thinking. It is also our obligation as rabbis to take that vision and shape it into action both in the CCAR and in the organizations and Congregations we serve. Reviewing the Context of CCAR Member Engagement─ Distributed NOLA Convention, March, 2011 Over the past few years, CCAR members have been in conversation with one another and with CCAR leadership about the future of Jewish life during CCAR Conventions, regional kallot, at meetings of the Board of Trustees and elsewhere. During these conversations, a number of common themes about the future have begun to emerge that were examined in greater detail during the CCAR 2011 New Orleans Convention. In addition, the CCAR has been working with others in the Reform Movement including the URJ and HUC-JIR in efforts to cultivate a conversation among all Reform Jews. The following timeline lists several events leading up to the CCAR Convention program. A brief timeline 2008–2009: The CCAR initiates engagement conversations with CCAR members about the value CCAR can add to their personal and professional lives. One theme (of many) that emerged from members was the need to look to the future of Jewish life in the 21st Century and the role of the rabbi. These conversations continue throughout the regional kallot “season”. June 2009: The CCAR Board begins to discuss issues of Jewish life in the 21st Century and the role of the rabbi, and the way in which this informs the work of the CCAR. September 2009: The CCAR engages the URJ Executive Committee in a conversation about the future of Jewish life, their fears and hopes, and the ways in which rabbis can help lead.
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In addition, the Reform Movement's Think Tank has been transformed into a Movement-wide visioning process engaging as many voices as possible. At an in-person meeting in April, the core group of 33 people (11 from the CCAR, 11 from HUC-JIR and 11 from URJ, plus senior staff members) explored this visioning mandate, clarified approaches to including other visioning endeavors in the Movement, and launched a plan for engaging many voices. In addition, the Think Tank will serve as a container for the input of CCAR members from the Convention and prior conversations. It is anticipated that the visioning process at the CCAR, and with the URJ and HUC-JIR, will be extremely exciting and productive. Our current thinking is that this process will come to fruition at the 2012 Boston Convention. At the same time, we at the CCAR must continue to vision, think about and plan to