CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 1

CENTRAL

CONFERENCE

OF

AMERICAN

RABBIS

NEWS

Founded In

1889

*Special Edition* May June '14
‫אייר-סיון-תמוז תשע''ד‬
POST CONVENTION NEWSLETTER

Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬

‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬

‫ - 16 אייר-סיון-תמוז תשע''ד‬issue 5
May/June 2014 | volume

Speaking of israel: rabbis and
Freedom of the Pulpit
Sermon Delivered by
rabbi riCharD a. bloCk
President, Central Conference of american
rabbis at the CCar's 125th annual Convention
Chicago, march 31, 2014

O

ne erev Shabbat, a rabbi and temple
president stood in a receiving line to
greet people after the service. Passing
along, a congregant said, "Rabbi, that was
the worst sermon I've ever heard." As the
man walked away, the president said to the
crestfallen rabbi, "Don't listen to him. He just
repeats what everyone else is saying."
As every rabbi discovers, people don't
always appreciate our sermonic offerings and
sometimes object to them, mildly or vehemently.
One congregant writes me whenever I address
a social justice issue, objecting to what she calls
"politics from the bimah" and admonishing me
to stick to "religious" matters. Another objects
to the term "social justice" altogether, claiming it
is a synonym for the agenda of the Democratic
Party. in election years, some try to discern from
my sermons which candidate i support, then
express approval or disapproval according to
their personal predilections. i'm sure you have
similar stories.
"Freedom of the pulpit" is a cherished value
in Reform Judaism. A 1953 CCAR resolution
proclaimed, "By the demands of prophetic
precedent, [rabbis have] the right, duty, and
obligation to express [themselves] on all
matters which [they feel] involve moral and
ethical issues. [they do] not necessarily [speak
for their] individual congregations, but...for
Judaism and its principles...." At the same
time, the resolution asserts, "Every opportunity
should be given to laymen to express publicly
opinions and beliefs, which may not necessarily
mirror those of the rabbi." That year, the UAHC
also affirmed both free rabbinic expression and
congregants' right to disagree and dissent.

CCAR Chief exeCutive
Steven Fox

From Convention to Convention

C

CAR's Chicago Convention wrapped up on Wednesday evening,
having concluded a wonderfully successful week led by our terrific
chair, Michael Weinberg. the very next day the 2015 Philadelphia
Convention Program Committee met in person to move forward with planning
led by its chair, Brigitte Rosenberg. And even the 2016 israel Convention
Committee met during our days in Chicago to initiate its committee planning
under the leadership of its chair, Janet Liss.

Admittedly, it is sometimes hard for me to move so quickly from one convention to the next.
i want to enjoy the energy and excitement of the convention, to follow up on so many wonderful
in-person conversations, and to reflect on lessons learned applicable not just to future conventions,
but to the whole of the CCAR.
every year at Convention i experience something new. A few new gems from a study session or
a main speaker, new thinking about the Conference's natural and continuing evolution, and very
important to me, a few new friendships.
Yes i could write about programmatic highlights this year: the scholarship and learning, the
evening honoring David ellenson, the Shave for the Brave, irene Rosenfeld, Second City, Jim Wallis,
Space iL, and more.
But some of what stands out in my mind are things that don't necessarily make it into the program
booklet. this year, these personal standout moments include:
* Gathering with a large group of colleagues from small congregations who came together to begin
an intentional approach to supporting one another and learning from each other.
* Launching four new books edited or written by CCAR rabbis.
* Meeting the more than forty "first timers" who attended this convention, along with the eleven
colleagues and family members who celebrated their fifty years in the rabbinate.
* Getting to see and speak to eight of our past presidents at Convention.
* Celebrating the first-year anniversary of Rabbis Organizing Rabbis and the successful working
partnership between the CCAR, Just Congregations, and the RAC.
* Connecting coaches who work with rabbis for a day of learning and sharing best practices with
one another.
* Hosting a special day for the members of Friends of the Conference, a new group of lay leaders
who support the CCAR and came to join us for a day of learning on Wednesday.
for me, gathering in person with more than five hundred CCAR rabbis is a highlight of my
year, along with all the spouses/partners, teachers, coaches, CCAR friends, and others with
whom i normally spend so much time talking on the phone or seeing only in a small frame of
my computer. the emotional challenge is trying to spend meaningful time visiting with each
person, and yet everywhere i turn is another person to talk with. And, of course, our in-person
conversations involve more than catching up-we touch on issues you face in congregational
and organizational work, think about new career paths with those who are beginning their
rabbinic journeys and those moving to a new phase in retirement, and talk about family issues
(Continued on page 5)

(Continued on page 2)

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014

CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 1
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 2
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 3
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 4
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 5
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 6
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 7
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 8
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 9
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 10
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 11
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 12
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 13
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 14
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 15
CCAR Newsletter May-June 2014 - 16
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