CCAR Newsletter May/June 2018 - 1







Founded In


‫טבת תשע״ה‬/‫חשון כסלו‬
‫תמוז תשע''ח‬/‫סיון‬/‫אייר‬

Publication of the Central Conference of American Rabbis


MAY * JUNE 2018 | Volume 65 - Issue 3
Steven A. Fox

David Stern
By the time you read this,
you will have received a
letter from Steve Fox and
me communicating Steve's
intent to retire in June of
2019. When Steve first
shared this news with me,
I received it with mixed
emotion: Steve has been a transformational
leader for our Conference and, in our years of
working closely together on multiple projects,
has become for me both a trusted partner and
a true friend. I have tremendous admiration for
his range of expertise and depth of commitment
and for the heart he brings to the work of the
Conference each and every day. We are a very
different organization than the one he came to
lead thirteen years ago. We have moved from
crisis to stability to growth and great promise,
due in no small part to Steve's professionalism,
standards, and soul.
We now find ourselves at the beginning of
a two-year search and transition process, a
trajectory that will include the formation of a
search committee headed by our outstanding
colleagues Mara Nathan and Bill Kuhn,
solicitation of feedback from Conference
membership on the needs of the Conference,
the creation and promulgation of a job
description, the search and selection itself,
the formation of a transition committee, a
celebration of Steve's tenure, and the transition
into leadership of his successor.
By the time you read this, some of those steps
will have already taken place, and you will
have received not only our initial letter, but
subsequent communication as well. It will
be a guiding principle of this process that we
stay in communication with our membership
throughout, including the solicitation of member
perspectives at important and appropriate points
along the way.

Why Now?
After you received the letter from David Stern and me about my decision to
retire in June 2019, many of you have reached out to ask "Why now?" and
"Are you okay?"
Why now? The time is right for the CCAR as an organization and for me
personally. And am I okay? Yes. Thank you so much for your concern.
During an evening session at a recent CCAR Board
meeting one of the presenters asked us if we could have imagined what our
rabbinic journeys would look like when we were at an early place in life or even
at the moment of our ordination.
I could not have imagined this journey. Upon reflection, my journey began
around 1969 when my sister Karen (our colleague) took me to my first youth
group event, held in the fields of California, to support the farm workers. Led
by Rabbis Joe Glaser and Irv Herman, we met a priest who pastored to the
farm workers and eventually we met Cesar Chavez. That youth group
experience brought to life many lessons taught at home by our parents,
both Holocaust survivors, and it opened up my eyes to new ways in which
rabbis can lead the community.

"I could
not have

Even at ordination years later in 1980, I could not have imagined this journey from Temple Emanuel
in Worcester, MA, to Temple Isaiah in Lexington, MA, while also attending law school, and from there
to working as both a rabbi and an attorney in Los Angeles for 21 years, to becoming chief executive
of the CCAR.
Next year it's time to begin the next phase of my, and our, journey. On a personal level, I am
encountering certain physical limitations, in particular a distracting vision/macular problem, and
I admit that regular travel is harder today than a decade ago. What will I do? I am not sure, but I
am excited about the options. Perhaps completing a Master Gardening program, or more cooking
school, or attending to my collection of our dad's artwork. Maybe coaching rabbis or consulting on
transition issues. And certainly a priority will be exploring new possibilities with my wife, Vicki. Our
journey began forty-three years ago in Jerusalem. We tease that we "have taken turns" supporting
each other's careers; perhaps it's time for her to create another Jewish museum or to exhibit her art
nationwide. In the midst of all these possibilities, it is the right time for me.
Most importantly, it is the right time for the CCAR.
You brought me into the CCAR as your chief executive to help lead our turnaround following the
announcement at our 2005 Houston Convention by then-president Janet Marder that "Houston we
have problem." Today we have achieved our goals to renew the CCAR, and now is the time to focus
on new directions for the CCAR.
This is potentially going to be the least disruptive of executive transitions in Jewish life and in Jewish
organizations that I have observed. This transition begins with having the right people in place. The

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of CCAR Newsletter May/June 2018

CCAR Newsletter May/June 2018 - 1
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2018 - 2
CCAR Newsletter May/June 2018 - 3
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