Sep 9, 2005
As the Jewish community begins to prepare for the new year 5766, the Rabbinical Council of America has in recent months experienced remarkable and auspicious renewal and revitalization in many areas.
In recent months the Council has activated a new generation of rabbinic leadership, with the election of 48 mostly younger rabbis to its central decision-making body, the Executive Committee. In addition, more than a dozen distinguished rabbinic leaders serve as officers of the RCA. More than 40 committees and Task Forces have been established or revitalized, dealing with internal institutional growth and expansion, the provision of multiple rabbinic services, enhanced national community leadership initiatives, and expanded partnerships and coalitions with other leading national bodies in the Jewish world.
Dozens of membership applications have been received, with 16 of them approved just this week at the most recent Executive Committee meeting. This is in spite of having recently tightened up the criteria for eligibility to join the RCA.
To handle this expanding roster of activity, the RCA has in the past year retained the services of three new rabbinic staff members, and has at the same time completely refurbished its headquarters. The RCA has also gone high tech, maximizing its utilization of the web, mass email, conference calling, listservs of various kinds, and more. The RCA website (www.rabbis.org) has become an essential tool for RCA members to keep up with all kinds rabbinic resources, tools, information, and internal communications. This has significantly enhanced members’ ability to increase their own productivity and effectiveness. Of particular value to rabbis in the field, has been the Rabbi Steven M. Dworken Continuing Rabbinic Education Program, which provides skills and Torah courses, sermonic material, on-line resources, and conference lectures. Many rabbis around the world, not even members of the RCA, have taken advantage of these on-line services, by becoming “virtual members” of the RCA.
A most auspicious initiative recently launched by the RCA is the S. Daniel Abraham Synagogue Leadership Renewal Program. Undertaken in close partnership with the Orthodox Union and YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, as well as numerous outstanding rabbis and laymen on the local level, this ambitious program has the potential to revolutionize Orthodox synagogue life in our time. It seeks to recognize many new realities in the Orthodox community, new attitudes and expectations of synagogues by a younger generation of educated Jews, and new financial realities besetting communal life. In the face of such realities, the program will explore and promote a whole spectrum of creative responses, including mission and values clarification enhancement, utilization of resources provided by breakthrough technologies, multiple prayer settings and priorities, renewed conflict resolution modalities, recourse to community-wide networking and peer partnering, the encouragement of specialized rabbinic skills, lay leadership skill development, utilization of lay knowledge and skills, halachic responsiveness to many women’s concerns, and more.
In the words of Rabbi Dale Polakoff, President of the RCA, “The Rabbinical Council of America will in the months ahead continue to seek to expand its role as the major Orthodox rabbinic organization, providing enhanced services to its members, as well as providing halachic and moral guidance and teaching to the larger Jewish community and society at large. We are especially pleased that we will continue to enhance our many special institutional partnerships throughout the Jewish world, as we work together for the betterment of the entire Jewish community.”
For further information, the RCA can be contacted at
Rabbinical Council of America
305 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10001
212 807 7888
Rabbi Basil Herring
Executive Vice President: