CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 1

C N F F R E N C E O AME C EC ET R A L LC O O N E E R E N C E O FF A M E R I C A N R A BBBBI IS S N NTRA A N R A

Founded In
June 2012

1889
dear Chevrah,

NEWS
o

Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

‫סיון– תמוז תשע”ב‬

‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬
FRom The CCAR ChieF eXeCUTiVe Steven A. Fox

Volume 59 – Number 9

FRom The PResideNT Jonathan A. Stein

“Is There Something in the Water?” Reach Out for Help
ver the past few months, it feels as if there has been an explosion of conflicts between rabbis and congregations; or, perhaps it is more accurate to say, groups of people within congregations. Recently, these conflicts have involved not just senior rabbis in large congregations, but solo rabbis in small and medium congregations, assistant rabbis and associate rabbis. These conflicts are not limited to contract issues or rabbis’ compensation but often go to the heart of leadership issues and even enter into areas which have traditionally been respected as “freedom of the pulpit.” While similar issues arise in community-based organizations, we are not seeing the same degree of conflict in the last few months as in congregational life. “Is there something in the water?” on a macro level, we are all aware that changes in society have exacerbated stressors to rabbis and congregational/organizational relationships, as well as the health of the congregation/ organization itself. These include: • Economic issues • Demographic changes • Cultural changes Unfortunately, at times when congregations/ organizations are suffering economically, they try to balance the budget on the backs of rabbis or other clergy, or they reduce important valued programs and services, before they even look at enhancing revenue. some of the demographic shifts we are seeing, cause our congregations/organizations to retreat within, rather than think about outreach to new members and a new generation of leadership. Certainly, among our cultural changes, we see
1

i just looked up the word “denomination” in my mac ms Word thesaurus. To my surprise, it mentioned neither the words ‘streams’ or “movements” nor the terms “postdenominational” nor “transdenominational”. instead, it gave the meaning of the word as the noun “value” and listed its synonyms as “value” and “quantity.” This rapidly changed what i was going to write. my original intent was an article arguing for the continued existence, indeed the flourishing, of the four major religious expressions of Judaism in America: Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and modern orthodox. my idea was to justify the denominationalism of our lives as a pluralistic and yet unifying system that has mirrored our Jewish experience in this country and to argue that the existence of philanthropic allegiance to these various groupings is strong, and consolidation, whether by merger or absorption, is not foreseeable in the near future. Now i write instead about “value”. our “denomination”, Reform Judaism, adds value to our lives as our “living expression of Torah and tradition”. This wording comes from the proposed Vision statement crafted by the Think Tank. This is a collaborative effort of the Reform Leadership Council comprised of representatives from the CCAR, URJ, and hUC-JiR. The statement goes on to affirm “Reform Judaism welcomes all who seek Jewish connection to pursue the fullness of a life inspired by compassion and our divine mission to do what is right and just. in our sacred communities, Reform Jews make thoughtful and informed choices about how we put our values into action. We explore our spirituality, and we engage in reflection, critical study and sacred
(Continued on page 5)

an increasing lack of civility and civil discourse when there is disagreement. Also, some of the negative aspects of the corporate world have invaded the synagogue boardroom. As is obvious, the corporate world and non-profit religious institutions have very different missions and very different values. many of the stressors and changes in our world contribute to diminishing sense of K’vod HaRav. during times of diminishing finances or shifting demographics (or cultural changes), the important partnership function between clergy and lay people is crucial. For example, your lay partners cannot walk away from their role in the area of membership. membership committees are matters of governance. New members are cultivated, maintained and acquired through the joint effort of both the rabbi and lay people. similarly, with finances, outward concerned leadership must look to increase revenue from new sources of funding, working hand-in-hand with their rabbi. As all of you know, fundraising is also called development—the development of relationships of those who can and will support the congregation or organization. The rabbi plays a pivotal role in those relationships. Getting help When faced with a challenging situation, it is important for you to seek outside help as soon as possible. “As soon as possible” means at the moment you hear potential rumblings about rabbinic or lay leadership, challenges to your right to speak on subjects important and dear to you from the pulpit or, deep-seated concerns about expenses, without any look at revenue. sadly, while today’s electronic systems are a powerful tool for creating community and enhancing communication, we have also seen them used lately against colleagues as complaints can go
(Continued on page 8)



CCAR Newsletter June 2012

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter June 2012

CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 1
CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 2
CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 3
CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 4
CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 5
CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 6
CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 7
CCAR Newsletter June 2012 - 8
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