CCAR Newsletter May - June 2017 - 1



Founded In


‫טבת תשע״ה‬/‫חשון כסלו‬
‫ניסן תשע''ו‬/'‫אדר ב‬




Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis


MAY * JUNE 2017 | Volume 64 - Issue 5

David Stern
The desecration of
cemeteries in St. Louis
and Philadelphia, the
bomb threats at Jewish
organizations, the sharp
increase in anti-Jewish
hate speech on the
internet, the spraypainted swastikas on
the grounds of Jewish
institutions: the fact that a Jewish-Israeli teenager
has been arrested for some of the robocall bomb
threats should not distract us from the fact that
anti-Semitic expression is on the rise in America.
Many see the increase in anti-Semitic expression
to be a sub-genre of the increase in acts of hate
across America. The analysis of causes is familiar:
the sense of fear and disenfranchisement among
those who see themselves as an embattled
white culture in the face of the demographic
diversification of American society; the profound
economic dislocation that too many Americans
have experienced in recent years, caused largely

by technology but blamed on immigrant and
minority populations; the fact that the campaign
of President Trump was perceived to be
hospitable and exciting by members of
white nationalist groups.
So what to do? First, I think we have to
remain vigilant, increasing our attention to
the appropriate security measures for the
communities in which we serve.
But I also think that we as rabbis have a unique
and specific role to play, and it's a role taught
us by the students of the Posnack Jewish Day
School in Broward County, Florida. On Monday
morning, February 27, students were in services
when a bomb threat arrived, and as they hurriedly
evacuated to the parking lot, they grabbed the
Torah scroll and brought it with them. Once
outside, one of the students took his tallis and
spread it out on the hood of a car. Another
student opened the Torah scroll on it, and the
students continued with the Torah service on the
hood of a car in the parking lot of a day school

that had been evacuated because of an antiSemitic bomb threat.
That is the best answer to anti-Semitism: a proud
and vibrant Jewish life. Yes, sometimes the answer
comes in added security or greater vigilance at
the door. But if you consider that the goal of antiSemites might be not an explosion, but simply the
erosion of Jewish self-confidence; if you consider
that the four-year-old kid who has to evacuate a
Jewish preschool might grow up to be a parent
who says, "I'm not making my kid a target"; if you
remember that if this world of ours is a university,
Judaism is now more than ever an elective; then
inviting Jews of every age into a sense of Jewish
depth, meaning, justice, and joy might well
go farther than a thousand guard houses. Yes,
safety and security should always be our highest
priorities, but in the end, we rabbis don't build
guard houses-we build communities of solace
and celebration. We are needed, and blessed,
now more than ever: to be bearers of Torah, not
only into the parking lot, but into the world.

Alan Henkin
My service as the CCAR's
director of placement is
drawing to an end, and as it
does, I can't help but reflect
on the past six years. For one
thing, I am overwhelmed with
gratitude to many people
who made my work here so
memorable for me. I am indebted to the CCAR
staff, especially Steve Fox and the senior team, for
giving me this opportunity and for supporting me
through it. I have stood on the shoulders of giants-
Malcolm Stern, Stanley Dreyfus, Arnie Sher, Hesh
Sommer, and Lenny Thal-all of whom shaped and
managed our placement system with wisdom and
vision. Each and every member of the Rabbinical
Placement Commission, especially the three chairs
with whom I had the privilege to work-Ronne
Friedman, Randi Musnitsky, and Michael White-
gave me unstinting help and guidance. I also
received the blessing of friendship from several
CCAR Boards and their presidents: Ellen Weinberg

Dreyfus, Jonathan Stein, Rick Block, Denise Eger,
and David Stern. These relationships and so many
more have enriched me far beyond the work that
we have done together.
The Placement Office does about 100 placements
a year of all different sorts, which means that
in my six years I have had a role in about 600
placements-not bad for a two-person office. I have
been privileged to work with hundreds of rabbis,
hundreds of presidents, hundreds of search chairs,
and hundreds of search committee members. As
deep as my respect for them all was before I began,
my respect has deepened still further over the years.
Placing the right rabbi in the right congregation or
organization is the indispensable foundation for the
fostering of sacred community.
I have learned a few things about our placement
system over the years. One is that our placement
is the most successful accomplishment of the
CCAR after the creation of the CCAR itself. For

over 50 years this system has placed thousands,
perhaps tens of thousands, of rabbis in UAHC/
URJ congregations in an orderly, dignified, and
fair process. For this reason alone our placement
system is worthy of continuation and preservation.
Placement is also the linchpin holding together
so many parts of Reform Movement. Placement is
the means by which HUC-JIR students enter the
congregational rabbinate. Placement provides
the basis behind our Reform Pension Board. The
Placement Commission itself is the nexus at which the
three legacy organizations of our Movement come
together in the most self-interested way in order to
find common ground in policy and procedure.
To be sure, placement faces many challenges too
numerous to go into in this article. Suffice it to say
that my extraordinarily capable successor, Cindy
Enger, will take on those challenges on our behalf,
and with your support she will meet and resolve
them. I know that she will adapt our placement
(Continued on page 5)


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter May - June 2017

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