CCAR March 2011 Newsletter - (Page 1)

C N F F R E N C E O AME C EC ET R A L LC O O N E E R E N C E O FF A M E R I C A N R A BBBBI IS S N NTRA A N R A Founded In March 2011 1889 NEWS H Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis ‫אדר א-ב תשע”א‬ ‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬ Volume 58 – Number 6 FROM THE CCAR CHIEF EXECUTIVE Steven A. Fox ow do you make your voice heard? Hundreds of colleagues do it in person. FROM THE PRESIDENT Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus t is hard to believe this is my last presidential message in our newsletter. At the end of this month, at our New Orleans convention, I will have the honor and privilege of handing the Presidential Yad to Jonathan Stein as he takes office. I love the symbolism of having a yad (commissioned for us by Peter Knobel) instead of a gavel to pass on to the next CCAR president. It speaks volumes about who we are and who we want to be. It is my belief and hope that this conference is more about Torah than about business meetings; more about extending a hand than about Robert’s Rules. As many presidents have said before me, I cannot imagine a greater honor than being elected by my colleagues to serve as your president. We have tried, in these years of organizational transition and economic challenge, to fulfill the mission of the CCAR: to foster excellence in our rabbis, to enhance the professional and personal lives of CCAR members, and to amplify the voice of the Reform rabbinate in the Jewish community and beyond. Any work we do as leaders of the CCAR is really the work of empowering rabbis to provide leadership in their communities. These have been challenging years, in which we feel the ground shifting beneath our feet. We, as rabbis and as a conference, need to be agile and flexible as we face the future. We need to create opportunities where others might see disappointments. We need to explore what is eternal and essential in our Jewish world, and what is stagnant and structurally obsolete. The answers may vary among members of the CCAR, and that difference of opinion should be celebrated, not discouraged. As pluralists, we believe that (Continued on page 8) I During the first two months of this year, close to 400 CCAR rabbis have met face-to-face in small gatherings around the country for Torah learning, professional development, chevruta, conversation, and dreaming about the future of the Jewish community. Soon, in our largest gathering, 450 to 500 CCAR rabbis will be at Convention in New Orleans—the 122nd consecutive year Reform rabbis will come together in person through the work of the CCAR. In-person gatherings happen in a variety of ways. Sometimes initials define them: already this year, PARR, NAORRR, ONEG, MWARR, SWARR, MARR, and NAJC. Soon, we will be adding to this mix meetings of CARR, NJWHVRR, WRN, and SEACARR. These meetings are defined by geography (Pacific, Mid-West, South-West, Mid-Atlantic, Chicago, New Jersey, South East), by nature of service (chaplains), by activity (the “skiing rabbis”) and by demographic identification or gender (retired and female colleagues). In addition, rabbis meet formally and informally, regularly and intermittently, by city, congregational size, and as friends. One of the privileges of my position is that I am able to meet with and listen to colleagues in-person at many of these meetings (in addition to telephone and Skype). At the regional or organizational gatherings, we share in daily t’filah led by rabbis for rabbis, study with an array of scholars, engage in group conversation about pressing issues of our time, and meet one-on-one to talk about professional and personal issues. The diversity of voices, rabbinic experience, professional choices, age, sexual orientation, geographic differences, and more, all enrich and inform these conversations. These past two months, four common themes have emerged from conversations with you: 1. The ongoing need and desire for in-person chevruta and learning. CCAR members want to be in touch with one another in person, be it to catch up as friends, to learn together or to share experiences and best practices. Technology supplements but does not replace in-person meetings. One of our challenges is to create additional opportunities for meetings and study especially in those areas where the CCAR regional structure has been less effective to complement online webinars and seminars. 2. Colleagues want to meet with CCAR rabbinic staff in person, be it to confer about placement consultation, to talk about organizational goal setting, systems, leadership or rabbinic reviews, to seek out contract advice for new, renewed or retirement contracts, or to share personal highs and lows in their lives. While we all spend tremendous time talking with one another on the telephone or via Skype, colleagues continue to emphasize the value of being in touch face-to-face. 3. Colleagues want to participate in serious conversations about the meaning of “community” within the CCAR and what “engagement” means in an organization like ours. Many colleagues feel connected to one another and to the Conference, others not as much. At the same time, colleagues have differing understandings and needs of the CCAR as a community and the ways in which the CCAR continues to add value to their personal and professional lives. We need to move forward with this conversation in-person and using today’s technology. 4. Reform rabbis want to lead in dreaming about, helping to inform and ultimately guiding the future (Continued on page 8) 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR March 2011 Newsletter

CCAR March 2011 Newsletter

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