CCAR Newsletter Nov-Dec 2013 - 1
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Volume 56 - Number 2013 | Volume 61 - issue 2
איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים
FROM THE CHiEF EXECuTiVE
Steven A. Fox
FROM THE PRESiDENT
One of the most gratifying
aspects of serving as
CCAR president is
working in partnership with
colleagues to advance
the sacred mission of the
Conference, which we seek
to accomplish by fostering
excellence in Reform rabbis,
enhancing our colleagues' professional and
personal lives, and amplifying the voice of
our Reform rabbinate in our Movement and
beyond. We have a small, but highly dedicated
and capable staff and a devoted group of
officers and board members, but the bulk of
the work the Conference does is accomplished
by hundreds of colleagues on committees,
commissions, task forces, and more, both within
and outside the CCAR. increasingly, leadership
and engagement are also coming from our
"grass roots" members who take the initiative to
organize inclusive and participatory communities
of interest under the CCAR banner. We are also
represented in the leadership of a host of other
organizations outside the Reform Movement
that seek the experience and wisdom that
Reform rabbis bring to Jewish life.
Even as we search out new and more creative
ways to enable and empower our members to
take part in these important endeavors, there
is still a need to make what have traditionally
been called "appointments"-asking colleagues
to serve in various specific ways. Such
appointments are customarily made by the
Conference president, and making them is a
humbling and inspiring privilege, since so many
members are eager to serve and grateful for the
opportunity. At the same time, the process can
lead to disappointment or resentment, as many
talented and willing colleagues are never called
upon. Others are simply in the dark about how
to get involved, sometimes leading to the false,
but understandable, notion that participation
is limited to a select and favored few. Nothing
could be farther from the truth. One of my
prime goals is to make the CCAR appointments
process more transparent, participatory, and
Learning to raise money FOR rabbis.
Not from. Not with. For.
This is, as some funders have taught me to say, providing opportunities
for people to invest in Reform rabbis and, thus, invest in the future of
Reform Jewish life.
This is, as many of you have taught me, providing people with
opportunities for tzedakah to ensure a strong Jewish future.
Development on behalf of Reform rabbis and the CCAR is relatively new to
me. it was not a part of my position when i became Chief Executive seven
years ago. Or, perhaps it was; nobody told me nor expected it of me.
Surprisingly, it is not as personally difficult today as it was the first year i tried to raise some
money, nor as i imagine it will be each time i prepare to meet a potential funder.
i have learned that fundraising for a cause in which i believe so strongly comes naturally,
certainly more easily than my prior work in client development.
Rabbinic leadership is at the core of a strong, vibrant Jewish future in North America and
around the world. The Jewish community needs to invest in Jewish leadership-in our case,
rabbinic leadership-to help ensure that future.
Over the past few years, the capacity of the CCAR to facilitate rabbinic leadership has
increased dramatically, as has our ability for CCAR rabbis to serve as leaders in the Movement
and broader Jewish world.
Today, hundreds upon hundreds of members access the multitude of new services and
programs that have become an important part of today's CCAR: lifelong learning programs
and support services; enhanced conventions and in-person seminars; representing the CCAR
to other organizations within and beyond the Jewish world; publications, both paper and
electronic, that lead the Reform Movement and provide resources to the North American
Jewish community; seeking one-on-one support from the rabbinic staff, be it for professional
issues, personal transitions, placement, or simply to brainstorm when an issue arises in your
community. The list of ever-increasing offerings goes on and on.
At the same time, we have not raised dues nor increased convention fees; in fact, we have
remained committed to offering dues reduction for members unable to pay under the longexisting dues structure; we have offered reduced convention fees for colleagues such as
retired rabbis; we subvent our in-person programs to keep those costs low; our webinars
and telephonic seminars remain at no cost. And then, of course, there is the support of an
outstanding senior staff who works with you, our colleagues, every single day.
And yet, with all this, are we where i would like us to be? Not by a long shot. We need to
increase learning opportunities for rabbis in all walks of life, be it large or small communities,
synagogues, chaplaincy, or community organizations of various kinds. We need to become
more flexible in our dues policy, perhaps recognizing different rabbinic services or capacities
even more than we do; we need to build a placement department that offers services for all
rabbis no matter where or how you serve, and in turn that means providing the highest-quality
placement service to congregations and organizations who can in the future hire our rabbis. We
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