Dear Colleagues and Friends of Our RA:
Upon creating the first human being, God quickly notes (Gen. 2:18), “לא טוב היות אדםLלבדוL-- It is not good for this Adam to be alone.” God quickly understands that Divine presence in the world is not enough for this new creation -- human beings require human companionship. Our sages take this idea further when it comes to rabbis, elevating the popular phrase quoted by Rava in the Gemara (Taanit 23a), “או חברותאLאו מיתותא -- Companionship or death!”
As we have faced a global pandemic, our Rabbinical Assembly’s core mission, which is to connect and support rabbis, has perhaps never been more valued, or more challenging. Our colleagues have worked so hard, in every corner of the world, and in every setting, to share Torah, to create meaningful experiences, and to ensure connections within their communities. Our RA staff and lay leadership have, in turn, worked hard to do the same among our colleagues, providing the assurance that, indeed, we feel connection and companionship.
As you will see in this report, our response to the pandemic has included adaptations of halakhah by the CJLS to this unprecedented environment; new policies, training and support for career transitions; study opportunities and self-care programs; individual counseling and group processing opportunities; and so much more.
All the while, we have also continued our focus on implementing our 10 Bold Statements of our RA Vision Plan. We hired Sheryl Katzman as our Senior Director of Member Engagement and Ilana Garber as our Director of Global Rabbinic Development. Together with our existing staff, they have grown our opportunities to engage one another in a network of affinity groups, professional growth and learning initiatives, new partnerships within and outside our movement (including our deepening collaboration with USCJ), and leadership training programs.
Our membership and lay leaders have played key roles in helping us develop and evaluate responses to the pandemic, set priorities in our strategic plan implementation, develop messaging for Dover Emet advocacy, initiate new publications projects, and refine our budgeting and fundraising efforts towards greater sustainability.
It has been a year of challenge and growth, all sustained by our continued sense of connection and חברותא with one another. Thank you for your continued support of Our RA, and we wish you blessings and strength as we continue our joint work.
Stewart Vogel Jacob Blumenthal