CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 3
A Note From the Chief Executive
From the President (Continued from page 1)
In the last weeks, I have written several times that I believe we are at an inflection point. These are not
merely words-I truly believe we are at a moment that will separate the CCAR of the past from the CCAR
of the future.
Ever since I was chosen to lead the CCAR, I have viewed it as my job to listen and hear about both what
works well at CCAR and where we can do better. The review and audit of our ethics system that we
announced earlier this year at convention was driven in large part by that process of listening. My leadership
is also informed by what I learned while leading the Task Force on the Experience of Women in the
Rabbinate, hearing painful stories from women rabbis of misogyny and sexism, as well as sexual misconduct,
over the past several decades.
I was asked recently if I have been changed by the stories that we all have been hearing lately. The answer is
yes, these stories have changed me, but it is a change that has happened incrementally over the last five years. It
is impossible not to be affected by what we have learned in the past few years. Women have always known these
problems existed because we have experienced them firsthand, but it takes on a different meaning when you hear
a new story every day for years. It adds up. That is why we started the Task Force on the Experience of Women in
the Rabbinate. The formal work of the task force may have come to a close, but the underlying goals and purpose
are now embedded in the CCAR and will continue to influence decision-making.
My heart is heavy because of these stories, but my drive to create change is only strengthened by what I have
learned. I am motivated in much that I do as chief executive in part as a result of the painful experiences of
colleagues. There are many kinds of pain that rabbis experience-loneliness, isolation, stress, loss, financial
worries, but also sexual abuse, sexual harassment, homophobia, and misogyny. Sometimes these different forms
of pain are related. All of this pain impels my work and my vision for the CCAR of the future.
In addition to an upgrade of our ethics system, we have also been in a process of changing other CCAR policies
and procedures. Some of this is part of the natural growth cycle of an organization, especially one under
new leadership, and some is a result of what I have learned, seen, and heard from you before becoming chief
executive. I am called to do this change work because of the ways that I myself have been changed by the stories
with which you have entrusted me.
CCAR's change moment is here. Organizations must always change and evolve with the times. The difficult
work we are engaged in right now is the exact type of conversations so many institutions, including our partner
organizations, are also having at this time. As community leaders, we all have a responsibility to make the
changes necessary to maintain the community's trust.
I welcome the challenges we are facing in this moment, because I believe this is a galvanizing opportunity to
build a stronger organization. I am not afraid of reexamining our past in order to create a better future. This
will be painful, yes, but ultimately the work ahead of us will enable us to envision and create a strong and
healthy future for the Reform rabbinate and the communities we serve.
CCAR DUES AND DUES RELIEF
BETH SCHWARTZ, DUES CHAIR
The CCAR is a large organization, and it depends
on the dues of its members. The CCAR staff provide
services to us that range from this newsletter to
professional and emotional support, continuing
education opportunities, the Reform Jewish Quarterly,
travel (remember travel?), and of course, placement-
not to mention the collegiality that gives so many of
us friendship, energy, and staying power. Colleagues
really value their membership in the CCAR, for all the
services, benefits, and support they receive in return.
But for some of us, especially in recent years,
CCAR membership has also been a financial burden.
As a small-congregation, small-community rabbi, I am
all too aware of this reality.
Thankfully, most members are able to pay the
percentage of their compensation as recommended on
the dues schedule; many also work for congregations
and organizations that pay these professional dues on
their behalf. Others among our colleagues struggle,
because either their compensation is lower, they must
pay their dues out of pocket, or they are experiencing
personal or family hardships. Often their difficulties
are temporary, but sometimes they are longer term.
Our tradition teaches us that being in difficulty should
not be a source of shame or embarrassment.
That is why the CCAR has a dues chair. The primary
role of the dues chair is to help colleagues maintain
membership in the face of trying times. But just as
our congregants, students, and clients are hesitant to
ask for help, rabbis, too, can be reluctant to share their
personal situations, even when dues relief may ease
their burden and preserve their CCAR membership.
(Continued on page 7)
From this emerges rising strains of antisemitism,
new challenges from the Left as well as from the
Right, each emboldened as not previously seen.
And within the American Jewish community, we
all see the resulting widening intergenerational gulf
of understanding, the rift between teens and young
adults and their parents and grandparents with
regard to Israel. To ensure a vibrant self-assured
community, rabbis in every setting will need to
convene and facilitate conversations marked by
listening and learning during a time when the
default is defensiveness or dismissal. We rabbis
must bring real leadership to a community in need
And we have a similar task as rabbis in expanding
the contours of diversity and inclusivity in our
communities. Even as we joyously celebrate the
enduring impact of women's rabbinic leadership that
has forever strengthened Jewish life and enriched us
all as rabbis, there still remain distressing stumbling
blocks for our women colleagues. Like any injustice,
this path will only be cleared if we all join hands in
the important work to fulfill the promise that was
made fifty years ago when Sally Priesand's ordination
cleared a new path for so many and a new vision for
With all this before us, that's a tall order that we
confront as we emerge again into a world forever
changed. But we rabbis have always known how to
reach, and to reach high. For that is what it means
to lead by example: to show others how to reach
beyond their own fear or uncertainty. I believe that
resilience is characterized by the capacity to hold
complexity and ambiguity in our embrace, while
maintaining clarity of aspiration in our vision.
Only then do we find the resolve to get up after we
stumble, to move forward through difficulty, and
to inspire others in that journey as well. Ours is a
world desperate to seek easy and simple answers; as
rabbis, we must teach others to hold complexity in
That is why we need one another as colleagues, now
more than ever. Our people will be seeking values,
perspective, courage, and a measure of hope when
despair so readily calls its name. That is why we will
need to encourage, support, and inspire one another.
We dare not labor in our isolated vineyard, not when
we can be strengthened and energized by each other.
Perhaps Rabbi Tarfon may have been speaking to us
in our own unique moment in time when we were
" The day is short, the work is much....It is not
incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither
are you free to absolve yourself from it " (Pirkei Avot
2:21). Let us strengthen and renew one another,
for that is how our learning and our leadership will
flourish. It is how we will lead.
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 1
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 2
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 3
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 4
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 5
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 6
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 7
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 8
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 9
CCAR Newsletter July/August 2021 - 10