I look forward to the CCAR Convention each year. There are many different facets that I enjoy, including the opportunity to study with colleagues that I’ve known for many years and colleagues that I meet for the first time. In the rabbinic imagination, there are seventy faces to Torah, and inevitably, I come home from Convention each year having learned a new text or a new insight into a familiar text.
This year, our study at Convention will include a remarkable opportunity. We have assembled some of the greatest scholars of our generation—including Andrea Weiss, David Ellenson, Michael Marmur, Lisa Grant, Elsie Stern, Amy Scheinerman, and Joseph Skloot—to lead us in a beit midrash. The beit midrash, or study hall, will begin our day with a foundation of significant learning. The texts and ideas that will be presented will provide us with a lens for the entire day to come.
So many of us have a commitment to lifelong learning as a foundation of our rabbinic leadership. We create opportunities in our home communities for learning, and in order to sustain this, we need to continue our own learning. Our professors, who will each teach a personal passion with topics ranging from sacred texts of the Second Temple era to understanding Jewish identity in modern times, will provide us with intellectual and spiritual renewal.
I believe that most of us can remember our favorite teachers, from whatever part of our educational career. These teachers cared for us deeply, helped us identify and pursue our potential, and provided us with knowledge and skills that continue to sustain us.
Our beit midrash teachers at Convention have approached this opportunity with exactly these high aspirations. They believe in us as rabbis, they hope to share with us in ways that allow us to flourish, and they are prepared to give us knowledge and scholarly insight that will stay with us when we return home from Convention.
It has been a blessing to work on this particular aspect of our Baltimore program. Without fail, each scholar was filled with excitement, and sought to identify topics that would be inspirational, interesting, and engaging. I look forward to seeing many of you as we turn the halls of the Renaissance Hotel into a timeless beit midrash!
Rabbi Peter Stein is the senior rabbi of Temple B’rith Kodesh in Rochester, New York and a member of the 2020 CCAR Convention Committee.
CCAR Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22-25, 2020. CCAR members can register here.