CCAR Newsletter Jan-Feb 2016 - 1
אדר א' תשע''ו/שבט
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
January * February 2016| Volume 63 - Issue 3
FROM THE PRESIDENT
Denise L. Eger
איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים
FROM THE DIRECTOR OF RABBINIC PLACEMENT
I write this article just days after
another mass shooting. All
too often of late we rabbis are
called upon to bring comfort
and consolation following
these kinds of horrific events.
First and foremost, we must help the families of
the victims and their friendship circles and coworkers, as well as the first responders and the
members of our communities at large. With each
act, whether it happened in our town or not,
the ripple effects across our nation seem to take
As rabbis, we are often called upon to find the
words of comfort, to find hope where there seems
to be none. Grandparents and parents struggle
to find the words to share with their grandchildren
and children to explain the murderous rampages.
The adults also look to us for the tools they need
to make sense of the senseless murders and, in
doing so, also hope that we rabbis will find the
right words to help them.
But sometimes there are no words.
Instead, we see advertisements for bulletproof
blankets for our children to take to school so that
if they have to duck and cover from an active
shooter they stand a chance for survival.
We Reform rabbis have had an active voice and
role to play in so many social issues of the day. I
especially want to lift up the work of our colleague
Joel Mosbacher, who has been truly a voice,
raising our communal conscience on gun violence
and what we as rabbis can and ought to do to
help strengthen our nation to end this public crisis.
When a woman's body is more regulated than
the gun industry, then our values as Reform rabbis
should encourage us to act to create change.
I hope each region of our Conference will
spend some time looking at the many issues
of gun violence and gun control. There are US
Constitutional issues, public health issues, public
The Rabbinical Placement Office stands as one of the greatest achievements in the
history of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. It was the CCAR that led the
Reform Movement in the effort to bring order, dignity, and fairness to the process
of placing rabbis in congregations. For over fifty years, and through six directors
and nine Rabbinical Placement Commission chairs (including our current chair,
Rabbi Randi Musnitsky), the Placement Office has facilitated thousands of matches
between rabbis and congregations. CCAR members should take great pride in the
ongoing success of this far-reaching program.
Today, the Placement Office continues to provide counsel and leadership to our
members and to the congregations and organizations that our members serve. In 2014, our office
facilitated 101 placements in URJ congregations. This includes senior rabbis, solo rabbis, assistant and
associate rabbis, interim rabbis, part-time rabbis, and rabbi educators. In 2015, our office facilitated
110 placements, an increase of 10%. On top of this, of course, we should not overlook the important
role we play in placement for Hillels, WUPJ congregations, Federations, and other Jewish community
organizations. Not only do we publicize their positions on the "Other Positions for Rabbis" webpage,
we consult with their leaders to guide them through the hiring process.
Here are several observations on the state of placement:
We are currently in the midst of a generational turnover in the rabbinate. For example, the 57 members
of the HUC-JIR class of 1973 and the 68 members of the class of 1974 are now between 65 and
70 years of age. These colleagues have retired or are in the process of retiring, and their retirements
create dozens of openings. In New York City alone, we have seen several rabbinic retirements from
large congregations in recent years, and the same is true in other cities. This is keeping the Placement
Office busy and generating an enormous number of opportunities for CCAR members.
The CCAR's interim program is enjoying tremendous growth. Our interim rabbis are in such high
demand that in recent placement seasons we have come close to running out of interim rabbis.
Congregations in the Reform Movement have learned the value of our intentional interim program, and
more and more of them are engaging interim rabbis. Even Reconstructionist congregations are asking
for our interim rabbis. In 2008, we placed three interim rabbis. By 2014, we had nineteen colleagues
serving as interim rabbis. Clearly, our highly trained interim rabbis are meeting congregations'
The CCAR Placement Office is engaged in many collaborations in order to better serve our rabbis,
congregations, and organizations. Many of these collaborations are with our Reform Movement
partners: the URJ, HUC-JIR, ACC, and ARJE (formerly NATE). One fascinating collaboration is with
a group that we informally call the Rabbinic Placement Directors. The members of this group include
Rabbi Elliot Schoenberg of the Rabbinical Assembly, Rabbi Ronald Schwarzberg of Yeshiva University,
Ruthie Simon of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and me. We gather twice a year to compare notes and to
learn best practices from each other. Every time we meet, I come away with new insights that I have put
to use at the Placement Office.
As the CCAR Placement Office enters its second half-century, we carry on the tradition of fostering an
orderly, dignified, and fair placement of Reform rabbis in Reform congregations and Jewish community
organizations. Continuing this legacy while adapting it to the unprecedented conditions of the twentyfirst century is our challenge. May we all go from strength to strength!
(Continued on page 7)
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter Jan-Feb 2016