CCAR Newsletter Sept - Oct 2016 - 1
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
September * October 2016 | Volume 64 - Issue 1
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Denise L. Eger
Rebecca Einstein Schorr
In August, fifteen
colleagues and three
spouses went on a CCAR
fact-finding mission to
Berlin. There we learned
about the massive wave
of refugees that have
come to Germany. The
refugees are from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan,
Eritrea, Libya, and several other places in the
Middle East and Africa. Working with Israel's
rapid-response NGO IsraAid, which has been
deeply involved in helping during this refugee
crisis, the CCAR put together this important
mission. IsraAid is an Israeli NGO that has
done amazing and holy work around the world
with emergency and disaster work and this past
year with the refugees in Greece, the Balkans
and on the ground in Germany. We were led
by our program director and colleague Rabbi
Victor Appell along with Yotam Polizer, director
of Global Partnership/Asia regional director of
IsraAid. We learned of the extraordinary efforts
happening in Germany to deal with the more
than 1.1 million refugees.
We visited shelters and met with refugees. We
met with them in the shelters and even over
dinner. We met Syrians and Yazidis, Afghani
people of all ages. We met with the staff of
the shelters and learned of the difficulties they
have in meeting the needs of the refugees. We
met with Berlin state officials to learn about
their efforts to meet the needs of those seeking
asylum, and we learned of the many difficulties
as well as some successes.
We met with seven young interns at IsraAid.
These were Jewish-American college students
who came on their own dime to work with
IsraAid and the refugees this summer before
going back to school. During their internship
they created programs to help the refugees
sharpen their computer skills, created picnics
for refugee families, and played with the young
It all began with a Tweet.
@frumesarah: RT @ravcookie: #ccar11 Steve Fox - bring
younger leaders into the conversation// hineini.
At the CCAR Convention in 2011, Alan Cook repeated Steve Fox's request to
bring younger colleagues into the conversation. And I responded, "Pick me."
Three months later, Steve called me to take on the responsibility of editing our
newsletter. And I responded, "Hineini."
If I heard that same statement today, I'm not certain I would have responded the same way. Not
because I wouldn't want to be called, but because the Call wouldn't have resonated in the same
way, as I am no longer one of the "younger colleagues." (Cue "Sunrise Sunset.")
Vayifkach Elohim et-einehah (Gen. 21:19). "And God opened her
eyes." Was the well there all along? Did Hagar require God to call
her attention to it? Was her pain and agony clouding her ability
to see a solution? In other words, was she not yet ready to see the
well and drink its sweet water? Was it simply a matter of timing?
In his senior sermon on Parashat Lech L'cha, Joel Abraham asked
how many of us believed that in coming to the rabbinate we had
answered a Divine Call. It was a galvanizing moment because,
until that moment, no one articulated what I had been feeling. My
own eyes had been closed until God's emissary, in the form of my
rabbi's rabbi, Samson H. Levey, z"l, opened them and I was ready
to respond to the Divine Call.
mean that we
are ready to
Just because God calls, it doesn't mean that we are ready to respond. Hineini serves a double
purpose. In answering a call, Hineini is also the articulation of one's soulful commitment. Here I am.
Pick me because I am ready to listen and to do.
An appropriate response when called to sacred work. The sacred work of serving the People Israel.
The sacred work of being a Light Unto the Nations. The sacred work of contributing all of our
talents, gifted by the Holy One, for a greater purpose.
And when one's time is done, it is time to allow others to bring their talents to sacred work and
It is with gratitude to the many contributors, section editors, and staff who answered Hineini. I am
so thankful for the opportunity to have served God and our sacred community as the editor of the
newsletter, and look forward to offering guidance to the new editor in the same generous fashion my
predecessors gifted to me. May the Holy One continue to guide us all as we experience whatever
transitions await us in this new year of 5777.
L'shanah tovah tikateivu!
(Continued on page 8)