CCAR Newsletter January/February 2019 - 1







Founded In


‫טבת תשע״ה‬/‫כסלו‬

Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis


January * February 2019| Volume 66 - Issue 3
David Stern

Steven A. Fox

I didn't really know what
to expect. The Cuba I
knew began with Sky
Masterson and Sarah
Brown spending that
magical night in Havana
in Guys and Dolls and
never got much past the
Cuba of gangster movies,
colorful cars, t-shirts of Che, and photos of Fidel
in military garb with an ever-present cigar. I
knew some names and dates, the island's basic
ebb and flow of politics and revolution, but had
little sense of the lived Cuban life and no grasp
of the contemporary Cuban Jewish community.
So when Nancy and I were privileged to join a
group of thirty CCAR colleagues, spouses, and
partners on our CCAR Study Mission to Cuba
in November, led expertly by Ayelet Tours, I was
ready to learn.
Adela Dworin met us at Temple Beth Shalom in
Havana and with wit and heart taught us about
the history of the Cuban Jewish community,
of which she currently serves as president:
about roots centuries old, about the departure
of upwards of 90 pecent of the community
when the revolution began in 1959. Once the
revolution began, what was once a community
of 15,000 Jews in Havana could no longer
make a minyan for the High Holy Days.
From Jacob Berezniak at Congregation Adat
Israel, we learned that antisemitism has never
really taken hold in Cuba and that a visit from
Pope John Paul II in 1998 re-opened the door
to religious observance in Cuba, and thus
allowed for the resumption of public Jewish
practice and the emergence of the Jewish
community from decades of communistenforced shadow. Jacob added that during the
time of complete government control of the
economy, the only private enterprise permitted
in Cuba was the kosher butcher!
Dr. Mayra Levy at the Sephardic Center, who
like most Sephardic Jews in Cuba is of Turkish

Chief Executive Transition
The end of my thirteenth year as chief executive of the CCAR is approaching.
It is time to look to the future. The CCAR Board of Trustees and the Search
Committee have indeed made an inspired, insightful, and invigorating choice in
choosing Hara Person to be the next chief executive of the CCAR. Hara will lead
the Conference into the future with her many incredible skills, capacities, and
gifts. She is an engaging leader, a strategic thinker, and a wonderful "person."
In addition to all the thanks to our search chairs, Mara Nathan and Bill Kuhn, the
Search Committee, and the Board of Trustees, I would like to especially
call out David Stern, who guided the search with wisdom, always anchored in Jewish values and the
CCAR mission.
The most common question that I am hearing from members of the CCAR is "What will you do next?"
The simple answer is that nothing is yet decided. For us as a family, Vicki and I plan on remaining on
the East Coast. As an artist, Vicki will never "retire"-something that we know from my own dad who
created new art until the last weekend of his life at 90 years old.
I plan on taking the first year after I leave my CCAR position to identify the kind of work that I would
enjoy doing next that will support my life goals. In that first year, I will find more time to study and
learn, and that includes the broad range of learning such as text study or cooking school or becoming
a master gardener. It will be important to reestablish health and fitness routines-without a commute
on the train and on the plane, I look forward to returning to the gym on a regular basis. And I hope
to reconnect with long-time friends and cultivate new ones. I look forward to helping to manage and
promote our father's art, working with my sister Karen, who has taken the lead in placing his work in
museums and galleries, and helping achieve recognition for him as a both a California artist and a
Jewish artist whose work reflects his life experiences from Vienna to Los Angeles.
For now though, I remain committed to you and the CCAR as chief executive until June 30, 2019,
when my tenure ends. With the Senior Staff-Hara, Laurie Pinho, Cindy Enger, Betsy Torop-and
elected leadership, I will continue to work to ensure that the CCAR members remain supported, that
the CCAR advocates for Reform rabbis, and that the voices of Reform rabbis provide leadership in the
Jewish world.
During this transition period between now and June 30, the senior leadership team will be working
on matters that involve the transition of information, relationships, and leadership. To understand my
role we are having ongoing conversations with Hara and David and others in leadership. Among
many questions to be explored are: How I can be most helpful in onboarding Hara as the new chief
executive? What are the top priorities that we would like me to accomplish before I leave? What is my
role in welcoming and orienting the new president, Ron Segal, and the new officers and board? How
can I help to make this as seamless a transition as possible for CCAR members?
Among other priorities already discussed, I will continue to support our efforts to become more and
more relational and supportive of our members (as we have been doing under the leadership of Betsy
Torop); to build the finest placement and employment services for rabbis and their communities-
wherever rabbis choose to serve, be it in congregations or other settings (as we are doing under
Cindy Enger's leadership). CCAR Press will remain a valuable part of the CCAR both in terms of
the leadership it provides in the Movement and the ways in which it allows rabbis to offer thought

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter January/February 2019