CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 1

NEWS

CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS | Founded In 1889
‫אדר תש"פ‬-‫שבט‬-‫טבת‬
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

January * February 2020 | Volume 67 - Issue 3

‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬

From the President
RON SEGAL

From The Director of Rabbinic Engagement and Growth
BETSY TOROP

The Yizkor service in Mishkan
T'filah includes a poignant elegy
by the poet Zelda that notes
the various names we are given
during our lifetime-by God, by
our parents, by our character, by
the nature of our work. While
each is surely profound in the
course of one's life, it is the names we earn through
derech eretz and by the nature of our work that I
personally feel are especially significant. A recent
email from a colleague brought these sentiments into
sharp focus:

I am constantly struck by the number of rabbis who self-identify as introverts. I suspect
that if we asked a group of lay leaders if their rabbi was an introvert or extrovert, most
would say the latter. After all, public speaking and leading, schmoozing at communal
events, meeting and connecting with people are staples of rabbinic life. This, however, is
not the way to think about the identity of an introvert. Much of the current work in this
area teaches us that being an introvert is not about a dislike of speaking to a large group,
discomfort at a party, or an unwillingness to express an unpopular opinion. It is about
needing time for quiet reflection, wanting a space to listen as well as talk, yearning for
private time to recharge after a hectic, intense day. For rabbis, that means space for personal prayer, reading,
spiritual reflection, or study in small chavruta-the very things that are so hard to find in today's rabbinate.

I'm wondering if the CCAR can help us out. While I
know that it has been years now that our Movement
has struggled with the profusion of online and
other unaccredited organizations that purport to
ordain rabbis, for some reason our congregation is
confronted on two separate fronts on this issue and
could use whatever support you can offer. In two
recent developments:
1. Our cantor emerita mentioned in a recent
conversation that she plans to use one of
the online "seminaries" to obtain rabbinic
ordination in the next two years, stating, "All the
cantors are doing it." Our concern is that once
she receives her certificate she will push to be
listed in our material as "Rabbi Cantor," which
we do not want to do.
2. Two Jewish educators who periodically teach
for us (but are not part of our congregation)
have announced plans to enter the same online
"seminary." Similarly, once they complete the
program we imagine they may want us to list
them as rabbis when they teach for us.
Could the CCAR craft some language that Reform
congregations [and organizations throughout
the community] can use, if desired, when facing
situations similar to ours to let people know the
parameters of who is called "Rabbi"? I believe that,
for many, an explanation and suggested language
from the CCAR would go a long way and be
[helpful] to share with temple presidents and boards
for their consideration. Thanks very much.
(cited with permission)

No matter how we characterize ourselves, we thirst for opportunities to pray, study, and build relationships
that are deep and nurturing. The CCAR Member Services survey that we conducted several years ago
clearly showed the struggle rabbis feel to find these moments in the midst of growing demands to answer
email, supervise staff, and develop administrative skills. The CCAR is very conscious of these unmet needs
for meaningful connection and spiritual nourishment, and it is essential to our thinking about programs
and support for rabbis. Our upcoming CCAR Convention in Baltimore (March 22-25) will provide more
opportunities to build relationships and have quiet, shared moments together. T'filah and Torah Lishmah will
be integral to each day. There will be space for open and honest conversation about our spiritual needs and
struggles. Beyond convention, we continue to explore other avenues-in-person and virtual-to help rabbis
nurture a spiritual practice, talk honestly about self-care and rejuvenation, and find small groups of chevrei for
sustenance and support. These concerns are all part of a much larger conversation about the CCAR's work to
strengthen rabbis personally and professionally in the midst of an ever-changing Jewish world.
As we face these challenges, perhaps we can be guided by a few of our ancestors who, perhaps, themselves
resembled introverts. When Isaac sees Rebekah riding toward him on a camel, what is he doing? He is walking
in the field at the onset of evening. The Talmud interprets the verse to mean that Isaac is praying. Isaac is
spending time alone, outside, in prayer. And then there is Elijah, who flees in fear to the wilderness and hears
God not in the overwhelming experiences of wind, earthquake, or fire, but in the still small voice. Hannah,
facing personal sadness, separates herself from the group and prays silently. Each of our ancestors finds a time
alone-outside in nature or inside a sacred place-reaching out to find God's voice and searching within to
raise their own. May we be inspired and strengthened by their example.

THE COMMUNITY RABBI
ERIC WEISS

I thought I would take a moment to reflect with you about this column. Community-based rabbis
compose about 30% of CCAR membership. Just as other parts of our Newsletter provide important
information to share among us, we would like this one to reflect our diversity, educate those who are not
community-based, and give voice to the specific ways a community-based colleague works. Serving the
entirety of the Congregation of Israel takes us all into many settings. We all know our Jewish community
is changing. From the academic setting to the singular entrepreneurial effort, this change invites us to
serve creatively across the national and international landscape. Please consider adding your voice. You
can use this column to express a viewpoint that derives from your community experience, reflect on what
you do day to day, or talk about what brought you to your particular service, ways you create collegiality
in your setting, challenges that are unique to the community-based rabbinate, or any other expression you
think is worthy of our membership forum.
Please feel free to contact me at eweiss@bajhc.org-we all look forward to hearing from you!

(Continued on page 7)

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CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020

CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 1
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 2
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 3
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 4
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 5
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 6
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 7
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 8
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 9
CCAR Newsletter January/February 2020 - 10
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