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My Role as CCAR President

03/19/2019 10:25:39 AM


Rabbi Ron Segal

Rabbi Ron Segal will be installed as the President of the CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) on Monday, April 1, and will serve a two-year term. Here he answers our most pressing questions about this new and exciting role.

1.  Tell us a bit about the CCAR.

The CCAR (Central Conference of American Rabbis) is the professional organization for the Reform rabbinate.  With 2100+ Reform rabbis as members, primarily in North America but also throughout the world, the CCAR strives to offer services such as ongoing professional development, opportunities for learning, and an accomplished CCAR Press.  Our annual convention, regional and local gatherings, and online efforts (e.g. webinars, classes, social media) all seek to provide an important sense of community for rabbis serving in a variety of clergy positions.  Our elected Board of Trustees works closely with a Chief Executive and professional staff to accomplish all that takes place each year.

 2.  Why did you accept the invitation to serve?

I have been active in the CCAR since I was ordained almost 23 years ago – serving on various committees, attending functions, and even chairing one of our annual conventions. At some point, I was asked to serve on the Board, which then led to a role as one of the VPs, and for the past two years, I served as the CCAR’s President-Elect. There is honestly no greater rabbinic honor I could imagine than serving as CCAR President, though to be frank, I was truly reticent about accepting this role.  When I considered the inspiring list of outstanding and gifted rabbis who had served as CCAR President over the years, I honestly did not (and still do not) see myself among them.  Further, the prospect of representing and standing before a congregation of my rabbinic colleagues was – and still is – “just a little bit” intimidating.  Ultimately, though, I decided to accept the invitation to serve as President because of the repeated encouragement of friends, colleagues, and Temple Sinai congregants.

 3.  What does the role of CCAR President look like?

As the CCAR is one of the founding institutions of the Reform Movement (along with the URJ and HUC-JIR), the President is regularly called upon to represent the Reform rabbinate in a variety of settings throughout the year.  A substantial number of meetings as well as speaking engagements, writing responsibilities, work on the phone, and a good deal of travel will fill my time over the coming two years.

 4.  How will this affect your role at Sinai and in the greater Atlanta community?

Due to the amount of time and focus associated with the CCAR Presidency, aside from continued service and responsibility to Temple Sinai and our members, the CCAR will be my sole additional commitment for the next two years.  I fully intend to remain present during significant moments in members’ lives over the coming years as well as present and active on Shabbat. I also look forward to sharing, through sermons and classes, some of the issues, conversations, and initiatives impacting the Reform Movement and greater Jewish world with which I will likely be engaged.

5.  What do you hope to accomplish in your two years as CCAR President?

A recent survey of Reform rabbis revealed that countless of our colleagues rely heavily on the fellowship and support of close relationships formed with fellow rabbis. I believe the CCAR has a crucial role to play in continuing to engage and embrace as many rabbis as possible, and strengthening this vital responsibility is one goal I plan to pursue.  As well, I am looking forward to continuing work on some of the important initiatives with which I’ve been involved in recent years, such as an intensive effort to study – and ultimately improve – the experience of women in the rabbinate.  And, I also have the critical responsibility of helping to ensure a smooth transition for our next Chief Executive of the CCAR, Rabbi Hara Person, who begins this summer.

 6.  What about this excites you the most?

I am excited to work closely with Rabbi Hara Person, the first woman to lead one of the Reform Movement’s legacy institutions, as we possess a shared vision for collaborative leadership – both within the CCAR and also with the leaders of other Reform movement entities.  I am also eager to find new ways of empowering the officers and board members with whom I will serve to help engage as many of our colleagues as possible and to broaden the ways in which we can enhance support of the Reform rabbinate.

7.  What about this fills you with the most trepidation?

Being tasked with the responsibility of occasionally speaking for and representing the Reform rabbinate on a national stage is one that is quite intimidating to me and the aspect of the CCAR Presidency that will push me out of my comfort zone most frequently. I will simply strive to keep in mind the wise words of Temple Sinai Past President Marcia Nuffer, who posed this truly thoughtful question: “At this stage of your life and career, how often do you get to stretch and try things of which you are truly terrified?!” 

 8.  Any parting thoughts?

In order to ensure that any form of support and service to our congregants is not compromised in the slightest while I serve as President, I have worked closely with our phenomenal clergy team and our lay leadership to ensure that all areas of Sinai life remain fully covered.  I am incredibly grateful to the Temple Sinai community for this opportunity and I look forward to sharing lessons, reports, and wisdom gained from what will surely be a most profound, unique, and special national leadership experience.

Thu, August 13 2020 23 Av 5780