CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021 - 1

NEWS

CENTRAL CONFERENCE OF AMERICAN RABBIS | Founded In 1889
‫תמוז תש''א‬-‫סיון‬-‫אייר‬
Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
May * June 2021 | Volume 68 - Issue 5

‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬
From the Director of Rabbinic Education and Support Services
BETSY TOROP

From the President
LEWIS KAMRASS
As it was stated best by our
chief executive, Hara Person,
when we first realized that
the 2021 CCAR Annual
Convention would not convene
in New Orleans, but instead
be held virtually, it was " the
convention that no one wanted, but that all of us
needed. " It came at the conclusion of a year filled
with loss, with uncertainty, with unprecedented
demands and a necessary measure of urgent
creativity. It came on the one-year anniversary of the
pandemic, when our rabbis were feeling depleted
and exhausted. And it came just when we needed to
come together, to support each other, to learn from
one another-the very reasons the CCAR exists!
So many colleagues have noted the manner in
which the CCAR provided them with resources,
support, and skills during this last challenging year,
deeply responsive to the challenges we each faced
in our respective rabbinic settings, grateful for the
talent, judgment, and foresight of our professional
staff and leadership who keep our needs in mind.
And we so needed one another this year! In spite
of Zoom fatigue, over 700 of us registered for the
largest attendance we have ever had at convention.
Even across multiple time zones, there was an
excitement in seeing hundreds of us together, even
if only on screens.
We enjoyed learning from different perspectives,
finding enrichment in small breakout groups and
conversations, seeing what we face universally and
the different perspectives we have from the different
settings of our rabbinates-congregational, Hillel,
chaplaincy, organizational, and entrepreneurial
settings of the rabbinate. These conversations
enabled us to truly explore the rich tapestry of
contemporary rabbinic life and the ever-changing
CCAR that we really are.
And how refreshing it was to connect across
ordination cohorts-cross generationally and
through the various lenses of experience through the
years. The virtual convention enabled more retirees,
who comprise over a fifth of our membership,
to once again taste nourishment of convention

Every year, dictionaries add new words and phrases or redefine existing words. This year
has yielded an interesting-although perhaps not surprising-list. Definitions were
expanded for the words " zoom, " " bubble, " and " mute. " " Hybrid learning " was a new
entry, as was " bio break. " If rabbis were to add to this list, we would probably include
" flipbook, " " new normal, " and " reopening. "
We are at yet another turning point in this year-long pandemic. First it was how to
worship on Zoom. Then how to do funerals and life-cycle events on Zoom. The list goes on: High Holy Days
on Zoom, how to sit in a sukkah together, how to raise money and provide pastoral comfort in hospitals and
nursing homes-on Zoom, in parking lots, and in parks. And now we are at yet another crossroads. How do
we safely return to our buildings? And how do we meet the needs of those who have embraced worshiping
and learning from home for a wide variety of reasons? Sarai Rice, in her article for Congregational Consulting
entitled " What Congregations Can Learn from the Pandemic, " observed that " not being able to worship in
the building has led to a new appreciation for the building. " And at the same time, " now that no one is in the
building, we are learning that we can work anywhere. " Wrestling with hybrid worship is our quest to hold
both of these truths at the same time. And while many of us are struggling with technology, there are bigger
questions to consider as well: What parts of the online experience do we not want to lose? How will our
community be different when we return, and what are the implications? Have our priorities changed? These
are not easy questions. Very shortly we will be offering a series of webinars and classes to explore questions,
strategic paths, opportunities, and technology tools that can help you navigate these issues, along with small
group conversations that will provide safe spaces for you to learn from others in similar settings.
Many of these questions are the questions we at the CCAR are also asking. We deeply long to be together,
and at the same time, gathering online has opened doors of possibility and created community in new ways.
Convention 2021 highlights these two realities. Our recent convention had the highest registration ever. From
the evaluations that were returned, 20 percent of those registered have not been at an in-person convention in
the past five years. People overwhelmingly reported that the opportunity to connect with colleagues and meet
new people was deeply meaningful and that conversations were extremely honest and open. And at the same
time, rabbis expressed a very strong desire to see each other in person in San Diego next year-to hug, take a
walk, and actually sit next to someone in t'filah. Together with our convention committee, we are beginning to
engage in in-depth conversations about how to return in-person, while creating opportunities for engagement
and relationship building for those who are not present. We are asking the same fundamental questions that
you are exploring in your communities.
Convention 2021 confirmed another fundamental truth. We have a deep desire to connect with each other,
to openly share our anxiety, loneliness, and fear in a judgment-free space. For many, the past year has been the
most difficult year since ordination. The pressure to " get it right, " the stress of re-inventing our communities,
the blurring of boundaries that makes self-care even more difficult than usual, the pressure of balancing
work and families-these are wearing away at our mental health, our spiritual strength, and in some cases,
our feelings about the future of our rabbinates. Providing support for these issues and other personal issues
is a CCAR priority. Thanks to a generous grant from the Perlmeter Family Foundation we are developing a
robust Rabbinic Wellness Program to provide support groups on a wide range of topics. These groups, led by
psychologists, social workers, and other trained facilitators, will address both professional and personal areas of
need-burnout, self-care, the challenge of creating friendships, grief, the stress of being a caregiver, and more.
We have learned much about the nature of community this past year, including the strength of our rabbinic
community. We have learned from each other, shared ideas, resources, and funny Zoom stories, and held each
other up in so many ways. As we now attempt to peer into the future, the CCAR is here to help sustain you
professionally, personally, and spiritually as we travel the next stage of this journey together.

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CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021

CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021 - 1
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021 - 2
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021 - 3
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CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021 - 18
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021 - 19
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2021 - 20
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