CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 3
From the President (Continued from page 1)
Heard with intention, Taam Elyon reminds us of the
point when our people were, essentially, their best-
In many respects, the past few months have also felt
like a moment in history when we as rabbis have
needed to be our highest-our best, most creative,
responsive, thoughtful, giving, technologically
savvy, nurturing, generous selves-and not simply
for one revelatory moment, but for months of
moments without stint. Truthfully, it has been
exhausting...and stressful, and spiritually depleting,
and sleep depriving, and emotionally draining,
and overwhelming, and... For many, I presume,
this moment has proven to be a frequent exercise
of balancing tiv'i elyon and tiv'i tachton, our upper
and lower nature. And navigating this "upper-lower
nature, higher-lower self " tension is a reality I believe
we each understood to be part of rabbinic life.
Nonetheless, how could any amount of preparation
and training truly equip our spirits and souls for
several months running...while also in isolation?
We all pray that the number of COVID-19 illnesses
and deaths will be on a significant downward
trajectory by the time this bulletin arrives. Should the
end of this pandemic still be out of view,
however, then pursuing measures of self-care-
self-preservation-becomes more essential than ever.
Meditation, prayer, exercise, spiritual direction,
Mussar practice, yoga, journaling, and any number
of other practices are the supportive measures needed
to help us lift and help make manifest the best in
each of us until this moment in history ends. When
Shavuot arrives at the end of this month, will we be
chanting Taam Elyon or Taam Tachton-our highest
or most depleted selves? May it sincerely be as if all
of us are standing at the foot of Sinai again!
Community Rabbi (Continued from page 1)
B'SHEM OMRO IN OUR CODE OF ETHICS
Trying to dodge protests, the governor had
announced three days before the only budget
hearing for two state environmental agencies, which
he scheduled for Monday by happenstance. Rushing
our lobby visits, we smuggled in signs demanding
funding for climate justice for a three-minute silent
protest at the hearing. The gallery applauded us. We
concluded with a rally to showcase politicians and
generate publicity. The day was brilliant.
Bob Loewy, Ethics Committee member | Andi Berlin, Ethics Committee chair
On Tuesday, I sat across the table from a Protestant
judicatory committee-the American Jewish world
has no equivalent-discussing my grant request.
Meanwhile my board was going back and forth on
email working out the details of a community solar
marketing agreement, making my phone chirp
incessantly. The day concluded with a lobby debriefing
by video that led to setting the next lobby date.
I headed in the opposite direction on Wednesday, to
sit with the faculty and deans at Adelphi University
to finalize the plans for the university's first climate
summit. The goal was to connect over a hundred
students with the some of the organizations
from Monday, to generate new volunteers and
generate internships for graduating students. The
congregational rabbinate prepared me for this
part, dissipating anxieties, extinguishing territorial
disputes, and creating clearly defined next-steps.
College administrations have an ideal of community
building but a reality of silos by academic discipline
that must be continually overcome. As clergy, I have
been greeted and welcomed in every department
and administrative office with no exceptions. The
Jewish vision of community building translates well.
Thursday through Sunday, the demands to post
on Facebook, to update the blogs, and update
information on both national and state climate
initiatives, legislative and regulatory, are daunting.
The daily and weekly communications are hectic.
I have been to church more times in the last three
years than in my entire life before. The Jewish
voice is hardly visible in the religious call to address
climate change; yet, everywhere I go, people are
asking for the Jewish voice.
Glenn Jacob is the executive director of New York
Interfaith Power & Light, founder of Aklim.org,
and Hillel director at Adelphi University.
The Community Rabbi column is managed by Eric Weiss.
If you are interested in writing a future column, please
contact him at email@example.com.
It all began with Esther. After being informed by Mordecai that there was a plot against the king, we read:
"And Esther told the king in Mordecai's name" (Esther 2:22). Over time, this evolved into the Rabbinic
principle of b'shem omro, as we find in numerous sources and particularly M'gillah 15a, Chulin 104b, and
Pirkei Avot 6:6: "Behold you have learned that who reports something in the name of one who said it brings
redemption into the world," with the verse from Esther as prooftext (Kravitz and Olitzky transl., Pirke Avot: A
Modern Commentary on Jewish Ethics, UAHC Press, 1993, p. 102).
Fast-forward to the 21st century, this fundamental Jewish precept is restated in our CCAR Code of Ethics:
I.D. Intellectual Honesty: "Rabbis will adhere to the traditional principle of b'shem omro (refraining from
plagiarism) and maintaining the integrity of their own credentials."
As rabbis, we read and study a plethora of sources from across the ages to the modern period. Through
technology we have easy and open access to the writings of our colleagues, including but not limited to their
sermons, divrei Torah, original prayers, and poems. The challenge is how to glean and cite from them in an
ethical fashion in both our oral and written presentations.
Students at the Hebrew Union College‒Jewish Institute of Religion receive the following direction:
"Plagiarism, the appropriation of unattributed ideas or verbatim copying, is entirely at odds with the core
principles of Jewish tradition and academic rigor. Students are expected to be familiar with the proper rules
of citation (see the MLA Handbook, or similar works)." (HUC-JIR National Student Academic Handbook,
Summer 2019, p. 29). This same guidance continues to be applicable following graduation. In addition, here
are some further insights:
* When drawing upon published material, e.g., books, journal articles, etc. in our writings, we should utilize a
system of citation, including the author and source, quotation marks where appropriate, or reference to page
numbers when including concepts, viewpoints, or perspectives that are not our own.
* When drawing upon published material, e.g., books, journal articles, etc. in our oral presentations, we
also need to be clear when the precise words we share or the ideas that we offer are not original to us, by
informing listeners when the specific ideas are not ours or we are quoting someone else, including the actual
source and author.
* When drawing upon posted sermons and writings of others, we first need to be sure we have permission to
share the material. Then, we follow the abovementioned insights in our writings and oral presentations.
* When utilizing stories, anecdotes, or citations that we find in others' writings, we should seek out and cite
the original sources when possible.
* Whenever we use someone else's work, even if we have permission to share the work unattributed, we should
give credit, including the exact portion, thought, or teaching. We owe our audience honest attribution as
much as we owe it to the original author.
Rabbinic tradition teaches that adhering to the principle of b'shem omro "brings redemption into the world."
From the Book of Esther this seems to refer to the resultant redemption from Haman's decree. Rabbi Joseph
Telushkin, among many others, considers violation of this principle to be "geneivat daat-stealing the mind"
and offers an additional insight. He suggests that people who steal others' ideas have their focus on themselves,
not the actual thoughts. "A world in which people share information and insights to advance understanding
and not just to advance themselves is one well on its way to redemption" (Joseph Telushkin, Book of Jewish
Values, Bell Tower Press, 2000, pp. 93‒94).
Our Ethics Code links the principle of b'shem omro to rabbinic integrity. While it is appropriate to learn and
be inspired by others, our communities ultimately want to hear our original words and perspectives as we
apply Torah to the world. Our writings and presentations should primarily reflect our own learning, personal
experiences, and viewpoints, not that of others, but when we do, give credit where credit is due.
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 1
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 2
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 3
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 4
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 5
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 6
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - Insert1
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - Insert2
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 7
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 8
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 9
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 10
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 11
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2020 - 12