May 21, 2008
By common agreement, rabbis acting together form an essential leadership group that is responsible for setting the tone and direction of much that occurs in Jewish life, certainly as it related to matters of a religious, communal, and sociological nature. This is particularly true at a time of significant communal change and transition – as reflected in the activities of Rabbinical Council of America, which in recent months has been in the forefront of a number of communal developments, involving not just its members, but the community at large, both in North America and around the Jewish world.
With this as background, Skokie IL was the site of the 2008 National Convention of the Rabbinical Council of America, as the largest group of Orthodox rabbis in the world gathered over the course of 3 days in May, to consider goals and options for the months and years ahead. The event was hosted by the Chicago Rabbinical Council and the Hebrew Theological College (the Skokie Yeshiva), and featured presentations and discussions on a wide variety of issues currently facing the Jewish community in North America and around the world. High on the list of notable topics and themes were:
• Issues relating to Israel-Diaspora relations
• Institutional rabbinic partnerships around North America and around the world
• Recent developments relating to conversion to Judaism in North America as well as in Israel
• Halachic aspects of Living as well as post-Mortem Organ Transplantation
• Emerging trends in the Orthodox communal rabbinate
• Balancing the needs of the Orthodox Community with Larger Jewish Communal Priorities
• The extraordinary Internet networking opportunities currently implemented by the RCA in fostering real-time and parallel rabbinic exchanges on multiple topics of concern to rabbis and the larger community
• Enhancing Rabbinic leadership roles in dealing with political and electoral issues in the Public Square
• Rabbinic Involvement in Pro-Israel Advocacy, Countering Divestment Campaigns, et al.
All of these were in addition to numerous presentations and discussions relating to the professional skills and personal needs of the rabbi in his interactions with his community and his family, respectively.
From an institutional perspective, 17 new members were elected to the RCA's Executive Committee, a number of resolutions were adopted (see Policies and Positions section at www.rabbis.org), and new members were welcomed.
Co-Chairman of the Convention were Rabbi Dr. Jerold Isenberg and Rabbi Moshe Kushner.