Thank You to Jan Caryl Kaufman: A Letter from Gerry Skolnik and Julie Schonfeld

Dear Friends,

Convention 2013 marks an important milestone in the history of the Rabbinical Assembly. Jan Kaufman, who has served as the Director of Special Projects since 1994, is retiring. We wish her ברכה and הצלחה as she begins this new chapter in her life. At Jan's request, we are going to wait until next year to hold a special event in her honor.

Jan was ordained by HUC/JIR in 1979. Her outstanding contributions to the world of Jewish education are borne witness by her many devoted day school students who have gone on to lives of Jewish commitment and in many cases distinction as Jewish professionals. Her distinguished career as an educator was more than matched by her unparalleled service to the Conservative rabbinate in her years at the Rabbinical Assembly. It is hard to find an RA member who has not been the recipient of Jan's boundless attention and kindness. Many of us have been shepherded in times of personal or professional challenge through Jan's friendship. Her scrupulous attention and personal commitment to take any step that would assist us, or esteem us, has aided many of us in our careers. All of this was done without thought of her personal kavod or being thanked.

Jan’s many other roles at the Rabbinical Assembly including the creation of conventions, convenings, advocacy days, and programs of professional advancement deserve larger acknowledgement than can be achieved in this letter. Such celebration shall they receive at Jan’s chosen time and place next year. She has dotted countless I’s and crossed innumerable T’s in ensuring that we studiously mind all or our governance deadlines and procedures. Our publications were also completed with great thanks to her talent and nearly every page we have published in these years has seen Jan’s careful editing and review.

Jan is also admitted to the Bar and her comprehensive knowledge of both public policy and institutional history of the Jewish community allowed the RA to participate more actively and frequently than would otherwise have been possible in the last two decades in public fora, to promote Jewish values and to protect Jewish interests. Surely, she is one of the few people who can recite both the voting history and the Jewish background, practice and social network of any elected official, serving or retired. During her tenure, literally thousands of letters representing the RA have been advanced by Jan in Israel and the United States. Her contributions to the Rabbinical Assembly in this arena are unmatched, and the vast majority of them took place under the radar where they could do the most good.

In the words of our Tradition, עשה לך רב וקנה לך חבר. Three generations of Conservative rabbis have all found in Jan a rabbi and a friend. Her role in the RA grew up around her and was utterly unique. We look forward to sharing many more years of friendship and collegiality with her. We know you join us in extending our love and our thanks.

Gerry and Julie

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