Atlanta here we come! In just a few weeks we will gather for our annual convention. I can’t believe that it has been two years since my installation in Philadelphia. The months have literally flown by as I have traveled not only across the U.S. but also visiting our colleagues in South America, Europe and Israel! The CCAR is truly a global organization. What an incredible privilege it has been to serve our Conference and all of you. I am looking forward to greeting you in the Peach State and to celebrating the accomplishments of our CCAR and welcoming and installing our new President, David Stern.
Our annual convention is the highlight of every year and this year will be no different. I know that our Program Committee under the leadership of Wendi Geffen and our local Atlanta colleagues alongside CCAR Program Manager, Victor Appell, have worked to ensure that this gathering will be memorable. I am very excited about the emphasis on civil rights and social justice that awaits us in Atlanta; touring The Center for Civil and Human Rights; hearing from the President of the Southern Poverty Law Center and NAACP; meeting with pastors from the historic Ebenezer Church and of course a visit to The Temple! Our convention will help us frame and reframe for our rabbinates the call of our prophetic tradition to speak truth to power and to lift up the dignity of every person.
But even more than the workshops, tours, and professional development that will be offered this year I think there is one more component that will be more needed than ever: Chevruta.
I know that since the November U.S. election you all have worked tirelessly to support your many congregants who have so many questions. You have held their disappointments and anger. You have been torn between often speaking up about our Jewish moral tradition and worry that your more politically conservative members and donors will be alienated or that political incivility will tear apart the congregational bonds. Many of you have written to me of your own personal worries and difficulties during this time. I have received emails and phone calls about some colleague’s sense of isolation from their communities as if they are the lone voice in the wilderness. I know that Steve Fox and our staff have also received calls and emails about this and talked with many of you.
That is why our convention gathering will be so important. Because together in Atlanta we will comfort each other, lift each other up, inspire each other, teach each other, laugh with each other, breathe with each other and renew one another spirits. More than ever we need to be together.
So if you are hesitating about whether or not to come, just do it! Register and join us for a celebration of everything that is so good and holy about being rabbis. Join us so we can strengthen our resolve to engage in our holy work of Torah that includes lifting up the souls and strengthening the moral fiber of the Jewish people!
I have been asked what I liked best about being President of the CCAR. And I always have the same answer. I like rabbis. I have met so many of you that I didn’t know before. I have seen how you toil for God, Torah and Israel. I have deep admiration for the holy work you do, wherever you do so. Whether in the hospital, or military, college campus, day school, congregation or organization, you, my colleagues have inspired me to see that the Jewish people lives and is strong and will be not just survive but continues to thrive. I hope you will come to Atlanta so we can share in that communal strength with one another.
Rabbi Denise L. Eger is the founding rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood, CA and is President of the CCAR.