2013 Year in Review

Posted on: Thursday January 23, 2014

Over the past year the Rabbinical Assembly has continued to expand and improve the services we provide.  Our recent work has included:

  • Conveying Conservative Jewish interests to top US and Israeli leaders
  • Providing member support and services
  • Networking with other faith and nonprofit organizations
  • Increasing our roster of programs promoting professional growth and development. 

Take a look at the RA’s year in review information below to get a sense of what we’ve been up to and learn how you can use RA resources.

Rabbinical Assembly 2013 Year in Review


Winter (January-March)

Spring (April-June)


Summer (July-August)


Fall (September-December)

  • Julie Schonfeld, Steve Wernick, and Yizhar Hess met with Prime Minister Netanyahu; conversation focused on three main topics:
    • Developments in the negotiations with Iran,
    • Negotiations regarding Azarat Yisrael at the Kotel,
    • Equal funding for the streams.
  • Release of First Fruits: Erev Shabbat, preliminary version of Siddur Lev Shalem
  • The Observant Life, Parashat Hashavua Study Guides
  • CJ Journal Digitized
    • 60 years of content—over 2,000 articles—are now fully digitized and searchable in Hebrew and English.
    • Available free to RA members
  • Zacharias Frankel Rabbinical College opened in Berlin
    • Ziegler School opens rabbinic training program for European rabbis
  • Monitored Challenges to Parsonage
    • The RA and our counsel continue to monitor the cases brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation seeking to declare parsonage unconstitutional. Currently the parsonage exemption remains in effect.
  • Launch of Hineinu: Building Jewish Community for People of All Abilities (an interdenominational coalition)
  • RA Community Organizing Training for Rabbis with JOIN
    • Following a year of collaboration and partnership with JOIN trained rabbis, the RA brought together 42 rabbis of all career stages and areas of the rabbinate for an intensive community organizing training.
  • Commission on a Vital Connected Rabbinate  
    • Developed goals including:
    • Train colleagues for peer to peer mentorship
    • Re-envision RA’s offerings  in continuing  rabbinic education including support and development of our own members in their teaching
    • Focus on the integration of rabbis’ first few years post ordination
    • Revitalize Regions
    • Partner with JTS’ Center for Pastoral Education to create processing groups: confidential groups for rabbis to process pastoral issues, and the ways they reverberate with the rabbi halakhically, emotionally and spiritually. 
  • Kol Isha: Leaning In, Leaning Out, Learning from Each Other
    • Discussion of ways to support ourselves and each other 
    • "Reb Talks" by colleagues representing different generations and rabbinic paths.
    • Learning with esteemed professors
    • Breakout sessions on a variety of practical topics
  • Rav Hamakhshir training for 20 rabbis
    • Provided text study and exploration of the theoretical constructs of kashrut. Participants learned how to supervise synagogue kitchens, communal events, bakeries and various kinds of restaurants.
  • Public appearances by Julie Schonfeld: The Pew Report, The Chief Rabbinate, and Mentoring
    • Dr. Steve Bayme of the American Jewish Committee moderated a panel on the Israeli Chief rabbinate shared by Julie and Asher Lopatin of Yeshivat Chovevei Torah at Sutton Place Synagogue
    • Julie spoke about the meaning of the recent Pew Foundation report on American Judaism with Dr. Steven M. Cohen and Ammiel Hirsch of the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, moderated by Gary Rosenblatt of the Jewish Week
    • Julie spoke at Jewish Women International’s Women to Watch event about issues of women’s leadership, mentorship and the role of Jewish tradition in shaping young women’s personal and professional lives.
  • Conference Call with Ben Rhodes to discuss events unfolding in Syria 
  • RA and USCJ Welcome Decision by Women of the Wall to Work Toward Kotel Plan (statement)     
  • RA Saddened by the Passing of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef (statement)
  • Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews: Conference Call with Dr. Jonathan D. Sarna evaluated the data from the survey as related to the Conservative Movement and addressed opportunities for our movement highlighted by the results.
  • RA Leadership Mourns the Loss of Nelson Mandela (statement)
  • RA Marks Newton Anniversary (statement)


Programs of Professional Growth and Learning

A central purpose of the Rabbinical Assembly is to provide support for you in your career. We have developed a series of resources that are useful for every colleague in every area of the rabbinate. We are especially proud of the expanded educational opportunities and tools we offer that will be helpful in contributing to your professional growth.

  • Yom Iyun for Chaplains: Using the Psalms in our Pastoral Work
  • Rabbinic Management Institute (RMI)
  • Clergy 2.0: Leading Through Relationships
  • Encore: Preparing for Retirement
  • Career Development Conference
  • MOCA Mondays: Employment in Pluralistic Settings a monthly interactive teleconference for rabbis seeking new rabbinic positions.
  • Kol Isha: Leaning In, Leaning Out, Learning from Each Other
  • Yom Iyun for Campus Rabbis
  • Private Political Briefing at the AIPAC Conference, Washington DC
  • Annual Convention May 12-15, 2014, Dallas, Texas
  • Interim Rabbi Training
  • Rabbis in Small Congregations Conference
  • Eit Ratzon: A Seminar on Employment Transition