CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 1







Founded In


‫חשון תשע''ו‬/‫חשרי‬/‫אלול‬

Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis

September * October 2015 | Volume 63 - Issue 1

Denise L. Eger

‫איגוד הרבנים המתקדמים‬

Rebecca Einstein Schorr

Our season of Renewal is
upon us. The holy days bring
with it, for all of us and our
communities, so much potential
for strengthening our visions
and missions. The New Year
brings the opportunity to
engage with our congregants
unlike any other time of year. Perhaps they are
more tuned in, or perhaps we are. And for most
of us, whether in synagogue life, or Hillel when
students are new to campus, or in the corridors of a
hospital, or the military base, finding just the right
words, the perfect story, the uplifting sermon, the
accessible texts for the Yamim Noraim is a daunting
I hope the summer has been a time of renewal
for each of you in order to prepare your soul and
your heart for the tasks of the days ahead. Rabbi
Nachman of Bratzlav wrote: It is best to meditate
and pray in the meadows outside the city. Go to
a grassy field, for the grass will awaken your heart
(Sichot HaRan 227).
I had a chance to be in the grassy fields from Israel
(where I saw many colleagues!) to URJ Camp
Newman as a faculty member to the streets and
fields outside of Selma, Alabama, as I marched
on the opening day of the Journey for Justice with
colleagues and our friends at the NAACP. The
time spent outside away from my office and the
usual summer planning for the year did open my
eyes and ears and heart. And I know that each of
these experiences prepared me for the New Year
ahead. They prepared me to lead my congregation
once again.
Rabbi Nachman was right; changing the place
of prayer teaches us, especially those who lead
prayer and communities, that we need a change
of perspective. To be more effective rabbis, each
of us needs that opportunity to move beyond the
regularly scheduled class, to reinvigorate our own
personal prayer life, to be re-energized for our
social justice passions, and to be less cynical and
more gentle with ourselves.

During a discussion in the Psalms elective, Dr. Borowitz directed the class to
consider God as the rodeif-the One who is doing the pursuing-while the
Psalmist is the one being pursued. In my mind, it was like the relationship
between, say, Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner or Pepe Le Pew and Penelope.
My suggestion was met with some scoffs and eye-rolls from the more erudite
students. Dr. Borowitz, however, reminded us that there must be different kinds
of rabbis for different types of people.
This is an important reminder as we move deeper into the 21st century and more
and more colleagues are redefining what a rabbi does.
In this issue, we reintroduce the Community Rabbi column with the intent on focusing on some
innovative and less traditional roles played by some of our colleagues. The rabbinate is no longer
simply understood to be serving in a congregation. For the longest time, serving at an agency or nonprofit organization such as a Hillel was considered out of the ordinary. No longer. A significant number
of our CCAR colleagues are carrying out their sacred work in places other than the synagogue. They
are going out into the world and bringing their rabbinic wisdom into all sorts of situations.
Even within the more conventional rabbinic positions, we are seeing our colleagues doing
incredible things.
Seth Limmer, inspired by a conference call this past July sponsored by the
National Conference of Civil Rights, saw an opportunity for rabbis to reach
beyond congregational walls and created an opportunity for
colleagues from across the country to follow in the footsteps of
the g'dolim of prior generations. With support from the CCAR and
our Rabbis Organizing Rabbis initiative, and coordinated through
the RAC, Seth's efforts have propelled more than one hundred
colleagues to join the NAACP on their "America's Journey for
Justice," a 40-day, 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to
Washington, DC.
We throw around phrases like "passing Torah" and "receiving Torah." They are imbued with meaning
from our collective past. Every day since August 1, on the Rabbis Organizing Rabbis Facebook page,
colleagues have posted pictures of the Torah being passed from one day's team to the next day's team.
There is video of marchers, in addition to our colleagues, cradling the sefer Torah in their arms as they
march along the route. Looking at these photographs and watching the footage, I am reminded that-
indeed-in every generation we are presented with the opportunity to do great things.
Read Amy Coben Weiss's piece about the nonprofit she started. Read Seth Limmer's piece about his
experience on the march. Be moved by them. Learn from them. And may we all continue to be inspired
by one another and seek out new ways to do God's work here on earth.
L'shanah Tovah Tikateivu,
Rebecca Einstein Schorr

(Continued on page 7)


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015

CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 1
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 2
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 3
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 4
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 5
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 6
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 7
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 8
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 9
CCAR Newsletter Sep-Oct 2015 - 10