CCAR Newsletter Jan - Feb 2017 - 1
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
January February 2017| Volume 64 - Issue 2
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Denise L. Eger
MANAGER OF PROGRAMING
Victor S. Appell
A New Year-A New
There are indeed many
changes that happen with
the secular New Year,
but our thoughts turn to
one impending event-
CCAR Convention is only
a few weeks away and registration is open! I hope
that each of you will make every effort to attend
our Atlanta gathering March 19-22! I know our
convention chair Wendi Geffen and the Program
Committee, with staff assistance and guidance
from manager of programing Victor Appell, have
been working for the past year to make this one
of our greatest gatherings yet. Many thanks to
our local rabbis in the greater Atlanta area who
have already been of such great help with local
arrangements. Because last year's convention was
in Israel and I know many of you were not able to
join us there, I hope that you will make extra efforts
to join us in the Peach State!
"Being a Rabbi in Turbulent Times" is our
theme. And we indeed live in turbulent times.
The upheavals in the world from the rise of antiSemitism, to the political landscape, to the crushing
crisis in Syria, refugees, the blatant racism and
misogyny and xenophobia and Islamophobia that
has reared its ugly head this past year, make our
theme more urgent. The challenges to the rabbinate
and our prophetic voices will be myriad.
And this is an important notion regardless of
where we serve. Our conference leadership has
been very conscious of understanding that we
rabbis serve God and the Jewish people and our
Reform Movement in a variety of ways. The pulpit
is one way; Hillel is another; chaplaincy another;
organizationally yet a different way to serve.
Some rabbis hang their own shingle-teaching or
counseling. But as rabbis we serve to bring our
Torah, our God, and our values and ethics into the
lives of the people with whom we engage. And
what better convention topic than ensuring the
The CCAR Convention: A New View for Me
I have done it a number of times. Perhaps you have too. Over the years, I have
asked colleagues, "Are you going to 'the' CCAR?" I was referring to the CCAR
Convention, of course. Not surprisingly, we know exactly what we are referring to by
"attending 'the' CCAR." The way in which we speak about the convention reflects
the important place it has in the rabbinates of many colleagues and in our lives.
CCAR Conventions are inspiring, restorative, and joyful. We hear moving speakers.
We enhance our professional skills and study Torah. We relax and see fascinating
sites. We pray together. And we spend time with dear friends, old and new.
As a CCAR member, I have attended many conventions, but I never gave much thought to who arranged
for the interesting locations, well-appointed hotels, great speakers, and engaging workshops. Now, as
manager of programing of the CCAR, I have learned just how complex the planning of a convention is.
It is no easy task! The convention is the product of the great dedication of our Convention Committee,
who, along with local colleagues, volunteer hundreds of hours of their time to make the convention such a
success. In addition to the programming, our staff devotes several years to planning each convention. We
take months to find a site for our size of group with all our demands and then negotiate the best rates for
our members. From room rates to Internet access to a user-friendly convention app, we work with vendors
to keep costs as affordable as possible.
When else do we have the opportunity to be in the company of over 500 colleagues? That so many of
our members make the effort to attend conventions demonstrates how significant they are. This can be
especially true for those who serve small congregations, work in isolated areas, serve in communities and
organizations, or have few rabbinic colleagues in their places of work. It is for these reasons, and more,
that the CCAR works to make its conventions affordable for our members. If the registration fee is a barrier
to your attendance, please be in touch with us privately.
Even with the many concessions we negotiate, conventions are costly. We keep our registration rates
as low as possible-less than actual expenses. This means the conventions can cost the CCAR money.
Through generous corporate or foundation sponsorships and private donations, we make up the
difference. But we never want cost to be a barrier to attending. Over the years, the cost of CCAR
Convention registrations has actually decreased in some years or remained stable. The 2017 Convention
registration is less than the 2003 Convention! And our hotel rates for 2017, 2018, and 2019 will be less
than we were paying ten years ago. Equally worthy of note, our Convention registration is significantly
less than many other gatherings in the Jewish world. As your manager of programing, I've been doing my
homework. Our Convention registration is less than that of the URJ Biennial and many of the conventions
of our Reform professional colleagues.
Our 2017 Convention in Atlanta will address the relevancy of our rabbinates through the lens of being a
rabbi in these turbulent times in which we suddenly find ourselves. Join us as we explore how we, in our
role as rabbis, have the unique opportunity to contribute to the intersection of Judaism and ethics; the
ways we and our communities talk about Israel; and our role in today's pressing civil rights and human
rights issues. We will look at how to live out both the prophetic and the pastoral aspects of the rabbinate.
And we will also pay attention to the question of how we take care of our communities while taking care
of ourselves. Each day will present opportunities to learn from scholars, engage with thought leaders, and
delve into the social justice history of Atlanta. All while enjoying that famous southern hospitality!
Make a pre-payment today for the 2017 Convention. We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta!
(Continued on page 6)