CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 1

NEWS

CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS | Founded In 1889
‫אייר תשפ''א‬-‫ניסן‬-‫אדר‬

Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

March * April 2021 | Volume 68 - Issue 4

‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬

From the President
RON SEGAL

From The Director of Rabbinic Career Services
CINDY G. ENGER

This month marks one year
of rabbinic life and leadership
endured in isolation. With
the pandemic's end still out
of view, the spiritual toll and
emotional strain shared by our
colleagues are understandably a
source of concern. An alarming
number of rabbis report feeling depleted and
exhausted, overwhelmed, uninspired, unsupported,
and more isolated than ever (because the rabbinate
was not lonely enough already). Far more significant
than the lack of motivation I addressed in the last
bulletin, colleagues are experiencing a degree of pain
and disaffection that is resulting in far too many
instances of burnout. In light of these significant,
real challenges, though, how and where have rabbis
turned, individually or collectively, for support?
And recognizing that the continuing pandemic will
only give rise to additional challenges, the Psalmist's
question is understandably ours as well: Mei-ayin yavo
ezrateinu?

In January, CCAR chief executive Rabbi Hara Person announced in an email
to the CCAR membership that the Placement Office is now named the Office of
Rabbinic Career Services and that my title is now the director of Rabbinic Career
Services. She wrote, " These changes reflect the actual current breadth of the work of
this department, as well as our commitment to continuing to expand the scope of the
support we provide to the full diversity of the rabbinate. This new name, Rabbinic
Career Services, is a clear articulation that this department provides career guidance
and professional support to all our members in a wide variety of rabbinates, in addition
to our ongoing work as a member of the Rabbinical Placement Commission. Our mentoring program,
CCAR admissions, and the interim training program are also within the scope of this department. "

It is certainly true that some colleagues have
navigated the stresses of this " no playbook " time
with mindful discipline, healthy living habits, and
creative energy. Of the countless others among us,
though, some have derived needed strength from
the supportive community found on our members'
Facebook page and other social media spaces. Some
of us have reached out to classmates or turned to
colleagues with whom we work when things get to
be a bit much. Some have leaned heavily on family
members for support or relied upon the listening
ear of a close friend, or a therapist, or a CCAR staff
member, to seek needed encouragement while dealing
with the strains of this moment. And some among us
have unfortunately turned to less healthy options and
behaviors in our attempts to cope and simply push
through what seems like a never-ending grind. For
every individual who has provided us with needed
support during the past year, we are undeniably
grateful. Through it all, though, it is the support
(Continued on page 3)

We began to consider the possibility of a departmental name change more than two years ago. We knew that
the word " placement " connected nearly exclusively with the congregational rabbinate. We learned that for
many of us, placement carried other resonance as well.
I remember distinctly a question posed by Jana Sharp of Sharp Insight, in one of our initial planning
meetings for the Placement & Employment Study that we conducted in 2019. Jana asked, " What comes
to mind when you hear the word 'placement'? " The Placement & Employment Study Evaluation Team
explored this question together, as did those CCAR members who attended a workshop session during the
2019 CCAR Convention.
From this inquiry, we learned that many of us associate the word " placement " with the idea that rabbis were
" placed " in congregational employment positions. This carried with it a sense of passivity-as if placement is
something that happens to rabbis, that rabbis " in placement " somehow lack agency. At the same time, the word
communicated enormous power and authority on the part of the Placement Office and placement director-as
if we are " doing the placing. " Some of this thinking may have been a vestige of the paneling process, a practice
that ended years ago. In addition " placement " was connected specifically with the congregational rabbinate,
suggesting that the Placement Office did not serve rabbis exploring careers in education or as chaplains, on
college campuses or as entrepreneurs. Many of our members associated " being in placement " with a lonely and
painful time.
The new name for the department, the Office of Rabbinic Career Services, is both descriptive of the work
in which we are already engaged and the articulation of our commitment to and vision for the future.
We provide support and guidance related to rabbinic employment, skill-building, and preparations for
entering into and successfully completing job searches and contract negotiations. We work with rabbis
navigating career transitions. This includes mentoring and admissions, preparing for retirement, on-boarding,
and saying good-bye/leaving a position well. We accompany rabbis on the journey of discernment regarding a
right fit and the alignment of what we are good at with the heart's yearnings and the soul's deepest call.
We take on this new name with awareness that the rabbinate is changing-as is the larger world.
Office of Rabbinic Career Services is descriptive and aspirational. Through staffing as well as contracting
with experts, the making of referrals and building of networks, we will live into who we say we are.
In the rapidly changing landscape in which we find ourselves, rabbinic career services must include
skill-building related to technology and the embrace of colleagues who are entrepreneurs. Creativity
and courage are both called for. And we are perfectly positioned to do this work.

(Continued on page 3)

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CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021

CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 1
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 2
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 3
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 4
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 5
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 6
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 7
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 8
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 9
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 10
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 11
CCAR Newsletter March/April 2021 - 12
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