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Post RCA Convention
The RCA 2005 Annual Convention: A Resounding Success, Reflects a Rejuvenated & Energized Organization
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May 19, 2005 -- This past week, from May 15th to May 17th 2005, hundreds of rabbis, rashei yeshiva, noted communal leaders, communal professionals, educators, as well as chaplains in health care and the military, gathered in Newark NJ, for the annual convention of the Rabbinical Council of America, under the chairmanship of Rabbi Joel Tessler. They came from across the USA, Canada, Europe and Israel. The gathering was suffused with an atmosphere of high level Torah learning, Orthodox communal leadership and institutional partnership on the highest level. Most notable was the display of RCA membership unity, enthusiasm, renewal, youthful energy, and leadership transmission.

Major plenary sessions at the Convention dealt with critical issues of the day: rabbinic responses to the crisis of assimilation ravaging the Jewish community, issues relating to Orthodox inclusivity, limits, and partnerships; Orthodox youth at risk; critical issues in rabbinic counseling responsibilities, techniques, and boundaries; and new models of Rabbinic/Lay leadership roles and responsibilities. Among the distinguished roster of speakers were the Av Beis Din of the Beth Din of America Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz; noted Rashei Yeshiva (such as Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein; Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rabbi Mordechai Willig, and Rabbi Michael Rosenzweig); Presidents Richard Joel and Bernard Lander; Malcolm Hoenlein; Dr. Marvin Schick; Rabbi Shlomo Riskin; Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb; Rabbi Robert Hirt; Dr. David Pelcovits; Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald; Rabbi Daniel Landes; Steven Savitsky, and many notable others.

Multiple levels of workshops were much in evidence throughout, dealing with all kinds Torah and psak issues; a variety of valuable rabbinic skills, including counseling techniques, techniques in professional evaluation to heighten rabbinic effectiveness, rabbinic-lay dynamics and relationships, pension-related guidance, bris milah and chevra kadisha matters, motivational techniques, chumash teaching skills, special rebbetzin sessions dealing with rebbetzins skills and roles; cutting-edge technology tools and solutions; while throughout the convention there were many healthcare chaplain sessions and Torah workshops.

A number of live two way audio-visual presentations took place, linking the convention to Jerusalem, and allowing for Torah presentations and internal organizational connection to the RCA Israel region and its newly elected and reinvigorated leadership.

A new President, Rabbi Dale Polakoff, and a new slate of officers, were elected unanimously, as was an invigorated Executive Committee of 48 rabbinic leaders. Numerous resolutions were debated and passed, including one relating to the appropriate modalities of implementation of the pending disengagement from Gaza, and others relating to personal on-line file swapping practices, non-profit policies related to gambling, school hiring policies to require checking for convicted sex offenders, Shabbat and Holiday fire precautions; etc. These resolutions can be publicly accessed and read in their entirety on the RCA website (www.rabbis.org.)

More than 60 new members were welcomed, and a number of senior rabbis, members for more than 60 years, were duly recognized. A special award for military chaplaincy was presented to a RCA chaplain recently returned from Afghanistan. Multiple committee reports, reflecting the panoply of RCA activities and services, were discussed and adopted.

All in all, the 2005 Convention was a fitting close to the RCA activities of this past year, as well as an auspicious beginning as we look to the future as a reinvigorated and expanding organization, ready to assert Torah leadership in serving a new generation of Jews who today look to the Orthodox rabbinate for halachic authority and moral guidance in an increasingly complex and spiritually challenging world.

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