CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2015 - 1




Founded In


‫חשון כסלו/טבת תשע״ה‬
‫ ניסן תשע״ה‬December 2014 | Volume 62 - Issue 2
November * ‫אדר אייר‬




Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬
‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬

March * APRIL 2015 | Volume 62 - Issue 4

Hara Person

Richard Block
According to a well-worn
adage, "Time passes
quickly when you're having
fun." Such sayings often
contain a good deal
of truth and wisdom,
confirmed by human
experience. Looking back
on a decade of service to the Conference in a
variety of roles, I'd add that time can also fly
by when one is not having fun.
That is not to say that there hasn't been an
element of fun in serving as the CCAR's
financial secretary, treasurer, vice president of
organizational relationships, president-elect,
and president, but it wasn't consistently so. The
journey from "Houston, we have a problem"
to the vibrant, financially sound, best-practices
nonprofit the CCAR is now was long, hard,
tiring, sometimes painful, or just plain awful.
More importantly, however, even when it
was anything but fun, that journey has been
meaningful, humbling, and deeply gratifying.
I have learned and grown a great deal in the
process, and I feel indescribably blessed and
privileged to have shared so much of myself
with you and for you, my beloved colleagues,
and to have received so much more than I
gave in return.
One thing I've learned over the past decade
is how much the CCAR means to so many
of us. I knew that already, of course, having
experienced this in my own rabbinate, which
was enhanced immeasurably in kemach
(placement, pension, publications, and
programs), torah, and chevruta. But I realized
anew how deeply the Conference is valued
in the countless (and often overly generous)
expressions of appreciation I have received
over the years. I have seen it in the amazing
dedication of our senior rabbinic staff, led
by Steve Fox with such devotion, and in the
hundreds and hundreds of you who have been
willing to invest time, talent, energy, and, when
possible, resources to advance the sacred
mission of our rabbinic chevrah.

Mishkan HaNefesh-Almost There!
By the time you read this column, Mishkan HaNefesh, the new CCAR machzor,
will be, as we say, "put to bed"-that is, at the printer. It is quite remarkable to
even write that sentence.
It's been a long but incredible road. The machzor began to take shape the
moment I began at CCAR in the fall of 2008 and Steve Fox asked, "Ready to
publish a machzor?" We held a think tank in December 2008 with a sampling of
rabbis from around North America, who came prepared with the results of an inquiry process based on
conversations they'd had with congregants and community members beforehand.
Projected budgets and a business plan were created and submitted to the CCAR Board for approval.
An editorial team, consisting of Edwin Goldberg, Janet Marder, Shelly Marder, and Leon Morris, was
chosen in late 2009 and, with the addition of Elaine Zecher as the chair of the Machzor Advisory Group
and Cantor Evan Kent as the representative of the ACC, began to meet in person as a team in 2010. A
Vision Statement was developed that has continued to guide the work of the editorial team throughout
the process. Peter Berg later joined the team as the membership liaison.
As the editorial team worked on draft after draft, we learned a tremendous amount. There were aspects
of the process that had sounded good in theory but didn't work well in practice. In trying to involve
as many colleagues as possible, we created a model that, it turns out, didn't really work. We remain
grateful to the colleagues who were part of the early stage of the process as we tried to figure out
the best methodology. There were liturgical changes that seemed like worthy ideas but weren't well
received. The same went for certain design issues and particular pieces of poetry or translations.
These have been an exhilarating seven years. The team met multiple times a year in person, mostly
rotating between the synagogues of the team members. Each time, we brought in a local scholar to
study with us. Among those from whom we were privileged to learn were poet and translator Chana
Bloch; Bible scholar Marc Brettler; liturgical scholar Debra Reed Blank; as well as some of our
beloved HUC-JIR faculty members, including Larry Hoffman, Maggie Wenig, and Dvora Weisberg. All
of those with whom we studied, including additional HUC-JIR scholars like Rick Sarason and Dalia
Marx, had significant impact on the final outcome. And in between those meetings, we met weekly by
phone and via Basecamp, a cloud-based collaborative workplace, where we shared files and held
discussions. Finally, we worked with a talented professional production team who helped us with design,
compositing, copyediting, and proofreading.
The piloting was an extremely important part of the process-over 350 congregations took part in
one or more pilot cycle, which means that thousands of congregants were involved and shared their
feedback. With each pilot cycle, changes were made. The feedback moved from tentatively hopeful and
supportively critical to extraordinarily positive and excited. Even as we continued to revise and refine, we
began to hear how moved and inspired people were by specific readings and translations.
Now we are so close to being done that it feels unreal. And yet even as I think about what "done" will
mean, I know that it's only one type of "done." There will still be a tremendous amount of work left to
do in helping to prepare for the use of a new machzor.
Toward that end, I hope that you will be able to join us for at least one of the five sessions at the
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2015

CCAR Newsletter Mar-Apr 2015 - 1
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