May 13, 2009
The Rabbinical Council of America, the largest Orthodox Rabbinical Organization in the world, recently held its 50th Annual Convention, in Teaneck, NJ. Attended by rabbis from the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Israel, the event was held in partnership with Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future.
Major current issues and challenges were addressed in depth in numerous plenary and workshop sessions. These included grappling with important ethical challenges confronting the Orthodox and Jewish community in the marketplace, synagogue, and home; the dynamics and tensions of centralized rabbinic authority versus localized rabbinic authority; rabbinic roles and responsibilities in dealing with the painful realities of the current economic crisis, developing rabbinic pastoral skills to deal with an ever-changing Jewish community, and the resultant stresses imposed on families and individuals.
During the course of the convention a number of important resolutions were passed, relating to business ethics in Jewish institutional life
, the financial condition of Jewish day schools
, the moral character of the Israel Defense Forces
, networks for jobs in synagogue communities
, promoting unity, not discord, in public statements
, reducing the cost of living
, and transparency in Jewish institutions
Most significantly, a new leadership administration was voted in. The new RCA President is Rabbi Moshe Kletenik, the Rabbi of Bikur Cholim-Machzikay Hadath Congregation in Seattle, WA. Rabbi Kletenik is a graduate of the Brisk Rabbinical College in Chicago IL, and has held prestigious positions in a number of communities. Most recently he chaired the RCA's Semicha Standards Committee, and also serves as the head of the Pacific Northwest Regional Beis Din for Conversions of the RCA's GPS Conversion Network. An expert in Bioethics and Jewish law, Rabbi Kletenik is a member of the State of Washington Faith Advisory Board. Rabbi Kletenik's photo and full bio is here
In addition to the Rabbi Kletenik, other incoming officers include Rabbis Shmuel Goldin
(Englewood NJ), Steve Pruzansky
(Teaneck NJ), Leonard Matanky
(Chicago IL), Barry Freundel (Washington DC), Elazar Muskin
(Los Angeles CA), Efrem Goldberg (Boca Raton FL), Elie Abadie
(New York, NY), Yaakov Wasser (East Brunswick NJ), and outgoing President Shlomo Hochberg
(Jamaica Estates, NY).
In addition 16 new members of the 48 member Executive Committee were also approved. A hallmark of the incoming administration is its noteworthy geographical, ideological, and age distribution, reflecting the broad national scope and perspective of the organization.
Rabbi Basil Herring, Executive Vice President of the RCA noted that, "in spite of current conditions in the Jewish community, the RCA has been blessed to enjoy vigorous growth and expansion in recent years. It enjoys important partnerships with numerous Jewish organizations. It has undertaken numerous high profile initiatives; and it plays an increasingly significant leadership role in the Jewish community and society at large, both in North America and in Israel. The RCA is in a strong position, having added many new members, as well as staffing, on a consistent basis, even as it has leveraged technological innovation to the benefit of its members and the Jewish community. Going forward we anticipate a period of further growth and accomplishment under the new leadership team that is now in place."