CCAR Newsletter September/October 2018 - 1






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‫חשרי\חשון תשע''ט‬-‫אלול חשע"ח‬


September * October 2018 | Volume 66 - Issue 1

‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬

Cindy Enger

David Stern
The first serious Jewish
question I asked as a
teenager sprang from the
Vidui. One Yom Kippur
afternoon in my father's
study between services,
I offered this snarky
declaration: "Judaism
obviously doesn't have a lot of confidence in our
capacity to repent. If it did, we wouldn't have to
recite the same sins every Yom Kippur. Why does
that part of the service read exactly the same way

The first serious Jewish
question I asked as a teenager
sprang from the Vidui.
every time?" Knowing my teenage self, I'm pretty
sure my question sprang more from irreverence
than curiosity, but the question was real. If the
whole process of repentance is about repairing
our deeds, it seems defeatist to turn to the same
confession on p. 82 this year as I did last year:
"We betray, we steal, we scorn...."
But I had made two mistakes that we all can see.
First, I had overlooked the grammar. The subject
of every verb in the litany of confession is "we,"
not "I": "For the sins we have sinned against you";
"of these wrongs we are guilty." We Jews join in a
communal confession, regardless of whether we
ourselves are guilty of each and every individual
sin articulated, because we believe in communal
responsibility, a sensibility too often lost in our
hyper-partisan finger-pointing culture. If I am part
of a community that has exhibited greed, then
I bear accountability for that greed. If I am part
of a community in which some have exhibited
arrogance, then I bear some responsibility for that
The communal voice also provides some
(Continued on page 8)

Each year the High Holy Day season invites us on a journey of introspection.
The process of our spiritual accounting is part retrospective, part looking
forward, and, at its heart, the truthful discernment of where we are at this
moment right now. We engage in this endeavor individually and as a collective. I
am honored by the opportunity to share some of my reflections here with you.
Throughout this past year, my first as your placement director, I have found
myself both moved and motivated by the findings of the CCAR Member
Service study, completed not long before my tenure began. That study, led by
Betsy Torop and Sharp Insight, revealed to us that placement is often the loneliest time that rabbis
experience and that women colleagues in particular frequently feel unaccompanied on the journey of
our rabbinates and our lives.
As a result of the findings of the CCAR Membership Study, we will be conducting a follow-up study
and again will work with Sharp Insight. With awareness of the rapidly shifting landscape, the study will
also explore the employment challenges facing CCAR rabbis who work outside the congregational
world. In addition to looking at the transactional side of placement, we will delve into the relational
aspects as well.
As part of my transition into this new position, I have realized that many colleagues are unfamiliar
with the Rabbinical Placement Commission's policies and the practices of the Placement Office. In
particular, I have been asked about the decision-making process when an associate is an internal
candidate in an open senior rabbi search. The CCAR, through my work as placement director,
believes that there must be a fair and independent rabbinical selection process for each community.
We offer support to congregations as they decide whether to engage in an open search, and we
support every rabbi who seeks an open position. We also support the Search Committee in its work
to discern and select which of the candidates is the best match for its needs and priorities, articulated
through self-study as part of the preparations for the active phase of the search.
Every open search involves multiple, highly qualified rabbis. In addition, whenever a congregation
enters into an open search while there is an internal candidate for a senior rabbi position, the
possibility exists that someone other than the internal candidate will be selected. (Sometimes there
are even two internal candidates.) We recognize that there is both joy and disappointment among
our colleagues when these decisions are made, and the CCAR offers resources both for rabbis
transitioning into new positions and for those searching for a new opportunity.
The last several years have given us much to celebrate with regard to women being selected senior
rabbis of larger congregations. In recent years, 19 out of 21 women who were internal candidates
were selected as senior rabbi. A significant number were internal candidates in open searches. These
colleagues were not precluded from senior rabbi positions because they are women, nor were they
selected as senior rabbi because they are women either-they were selected because they were the
right person to become the new senior rabbi.
At the same time, as I shared during the May meeting of the Task Force on the Experience of Women
in the Rabbinate, it is important that we look not only at outcomes but also at the overall experience of
internal candidates. For some of our colleagues who were selected as senior rabbi after having been
(Continued on page 9)


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter September/October 2018