CCAR Newsletter March - April 2017 - 1
טבת תשע״ה/חשון כסלו
* December 2014 | Volume 62 - Issue 2
March * APRIL 2017 | Volume 64 - Issue 2
Steven A. Fox
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Denise L. Eger
It's hard for me to believe
that two years has flown
by so quickly since our
when I had the honor to
become your president.
But we are preparing for
a wonderful convention in
Atlanta and beginning the process of transition
to help our president-elect Rabbi David Stern,
of Dallas, Texas, hit the ground running!
As I review the two years of my term as
president of the CCAR Board I find that I have
traveled over 300,000 air miles in service of
our Conference! But that has been such a
wonderful gift: getting to know so many more
of my colleagues worldwide.
And that is perhaps one of the biggest
changes that has happened over the last
number of years at the CCAR. We are truly
an international organization. We are based
in the U.S. and the majority of our members
are still in North America, but increasingly our
Conference is international in scope. Not only
are our Israeli colleagues so much a part of
us, but our members in Europe, Australia, and
South America are growing! They need our
chizuk, our resources, and we need them!
During my term as president, I have been
pleased that we have advanced the strategic
goals of our Conference including renewing
and revising our Resolutions Committee.
One of the main goals of the strategic plan
adopted during the term of my predecessor
Rick Block was to "amplify the rabbinic voice."
And under the leadership of committee chair
Barry Block, along with the help of a great
group of dedicated colleagues, we have been
able to do so. We have passed sweeping
resolutions on transgender rights, racial
justice, gun violence, reproductive justice,
climate change, e-cigarettes, state RFRA
bills, and Israel. We have passed resolutions
on hunger in America and condemned the
BDS movement for its attack on Judaism,
Keeping Up with the Rabbinate
Like many, my view of social media aligns with that well-known Hollywood
blockbuster "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." At moments I view the social media
opportunities around us with great appreciation and, at other moments, remain
bewildered by our inability to meet its challenges.
For the Reform rabbinate, aspects of social media today are essential. Not just
in keeping up with our community or congregational members, but especially in
keeping up with the rabbinate.
One of the most common questions we receive at the CCAR office is "Why did I not know about that?"
and more often than not, the questions come from people who do not follow one of the CCAR members'
closed Facebook groups, of which there are many today: the members-only group for all members, or
the groups for WRN, Small Congregational Rabbis, Rabbis Organizing Rabbis, Mentoring, Interim, and
certain regions. There are also the weekly eblasts that come right into your email inbox, as well as Twitter,
and there is still RavKav for those who have remained on that platform.
To me, keeping up with the rabbinate means being a part of at least one of the many CCAR closed
Facebook groups. Even if you choose not to participate in Facebook's ever increasing entanglement in
our personal lives, the CCAR's closed Facebook groups are essential to understanding today's rabbinate
and to have a grasp of what is going on both in the Jewish world around us and in the CCAR itself-
both among members in their own communities and lives, and what members are doing through the
CCAR as an organization.
As I write this, we have nearly 1250 members in the closed Facebook group, 293 in the Rabbis of
Smaller Congregations, 609 in Rabbis Organizing Rabbis, and 525 in WRN. (Please know that I have
no access to the WRN closed Facebook group but was simply given the numbers.) Closed Facebook
conversations range from high-level discourse on issues of Jewish practice; a contemporary t'shuvah
process where rabbis ask questions about Jewish thought, as well as practical rabbinics; the place for
political discourse among colleagues; and, lastly, a place of community for many members to remain in
touch with colleagues and friends, especially as we keep up with one another's lives through the Sharing
Our Lives posts.
No, Facebook groups are not perfect. One aspect of "...the Bad and the Ugly" that has arisen of late
in the closed Facebook group: k'vod harav. K'vod harav is not an abstract concept or one that we can
apply only to how lay leaders treat us as rabbis. Rather, it begins and it emulates from how rabbis treat
one another. Personal invectives, name calling, mansplaining, demeaning others, and other similar
behavior have no place in the way rabbis treat rabbis; not on Facebook, RavKav, or in person. When I
hear from a colleague who feels driven away from our closed group or hesitant to post for fear of the
way a response will be handled, I am truly upset for that rabbi and equally concerned for the state of the
rabbinate as a whole.
One challenge is that social media often puts the burden on members to look at Facebook, to open your
eblasts, to become a follower of RavKav, and more; very little simply shows up via the U.S. Postal Service.
We continue to put out more and more information to Facebook, Twitter, and the website based on
ongoing feedback received from members. (A new website is in progress under the direction of Hara and
her team, which has included a discovery and inquiry process learning from other websites, from CCAR
members, and from focused interviews with board members and others.)
Yes, we can all bemoan the deterioration of civil discourse in our society. But we must accept the
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