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New Chief Professional
Rabbi Basil Herring Selected to be Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America
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Jun 6, 2003 -- Rabbi Dr. Basil Herring - pulpit rabbi, scholar and author of a manual and newsletter for rabbis -- has been selected as the next Executive Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), the leading Orthodox rabbinic association in North America and the most effective umbrella organization of rabbis in the world. Rabbi Herring's appointment was announced at the recent RCA Annual Convention in Westchester County, NY.

He succeeds Rabbi Steven M. Dworken, z"l, who died suddenly in January following a decade of accomplishment in the position.

Most recently, Rabbi Herring served as the Executive Chairman of The Orthodox Caucus, a respected association that brings together a broad array of leading rabbinic and lay leaders. In that capacity, Rabbi Herring was responsible for implementing a broad array of national as well as regional and local projects and initiatives on critical issues confronting the Orthodox and wider Jewish communities.

"Only an extraordinarily well-rounded and highly-respected rabbi could be considered to succeed Rabbi Dworken," declared Rabbi Kenneth Auman of the Young Israel of Flatbush, (Brooklyn, NY) whose two-year term as RCA President began at the Convention. "Rabbi Herring most certainly fits that category. A distinguished pulpit rabbi, he is also a noted scholar and an expert on synagogue life and the role of the rabbi. With this background, he will be able to undertake the role of counselor and advisor to his colleagues that was filled so nobly for so long by Rabbi Dworken. I look forward to working with him on a daily basis on issues of significance to rabbis and to their synagogues."

The Executive Vice President of the RCA, in addition to performing the administrative functions of running the day-to-day operations of the organization, is primarily responsible to be the liaison to the membership regarding career counseling, placement, conflict resolution, and general guidance in their rabbinic careers. Traditionally, and in particular during the tenure of Rabbi Dworken, the Executive Vice President has also served as the primary liaison to the organized Orthodox community, most notably, the Orthodox Union.

In his remarks at the RCA Convention, Rabbi Herring said that after years in the pulpit, he had been contemplating a change in career direction - a change in which he was encouraged, ironically, by Rabbi Dworken. Rabbi Herring pledged to work closely with the Orthodox Union, the synagogue counterpart to the RCA, and lauded the OU's leadership, President Harvey Blitz and Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb.

Sessions at the RCA Convention made clear a range of issues that will face Rabbi Herring in his new position, including stress in the rabbinate, protecting congregants from abuse, and confronting unacceptable rabbinic behavior. These sessions made clear that rabbis are at risk for giving advice for which they are not qualified and for tolerating aberrant behavior in their communities -- not to mention accusations of possible aberrant behavior of their own. "It's a new era we're living in," said one rabbinical speaker at the Convention.

Rabbi Herring sees the work of the RCA as going beyond services to its rabbinical membership, what he calls its "fraternal service role." He regards the role of the RCA and its leadership "as a platform and as spokesmen for the Orthodox community, articulating values and positions on the major issues facing our community and society." The RCA, then, "is a national leadership entity working in that capacity with the OU and others who share our vision of how Orthodoxy combines Torah with full involvement in the world around us."

Born in South Africa, Rabbi Herring studied there, as well as at Yeshivat Kerem Beyavneh in Israel, before coming to New York, where he received both his rabbinical ordination and Ph.D. in Medieval Jewish Philosophy from Yeshiva University and its affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He has held pulpits in Kingston NY, Ottawa Ontario, and, until recently, in Atlantic Beach, NY, and is Adjunct Professor of Jewish Studies at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University.

Rabbi Herring has authored and edited books and articles on a variety of topics. These include studies in Jewish philosophy and Biblical commentary; several widely- used and quoted textbooks dealing with Jewish Ethics and contemporary issues; a manual for rabbis and synagogues on practical aspects of the modern rabbinate; a volume of sermons; and another on legally recognized prenuptial agreements that are valid under Jewish law. He has also edited and published a monthly subscription newsletter for rabbis. Rabbi Herring has authored various articles and position papers, published in a variety of journals and magazines, on issues confronting the Jewish community.

Rabbi Herring lectures widely on the interface between Torah, Orthodoxy, the Jewish community and modern society.

He and his wife Sherri are the parents of four children and two grandchildren. He lives in Woodsburgh, NY on Long Island.

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