CCAR Convention Convention Inclusion inclusivity

Jewish Community Outreach & Interconnectedness: Rabbi Sanford T. Marcus Reflects

Each year at CCAR Convention, we honor members of our organization who were ordained 50 years ago or more. In advance of CCAR Convention 2020, March 22-25 in Baltimore, Rabbi Sanford T. Marcus reflects on the importance of community outreach to his rabbinate.

I think community outreach has been one of my most memorable accomplishments in my 50 years in the rabbinate.  With the influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union in 1989, I organized the mentoring of some 100 immigrants who settled in Columbia, arranged to have English classes taught at my temple, and welcomed many of the adults and children as members of temple.  B’nai mitzvah and weddings among the newcomers were unique occasions celebrated by the entire Jewish community.

I had organized a Catholic-Jewish dialogue that resulted in numerous interfaith programs alternately held at temple and at Catholic churches. It included members of the Conservative congregation along with ours. This led to the bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina speaking at my temple with over 400 Jews and Catholics attending. That was front page news here. The bishop invited me to be an observer at a diocese synod, which provided a unique insight into Catholic religious policy in the making. 

I also was a member of a steering committee which formed a statewide Partners in Dialogue with Christians of various denominations: Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and Native Americans. It sponsored occasions for sharing faith observances and ethnic foods. And with the co-sponsorship of the University of South Carolina Department of Religious Studies, the Dialogue brought to town internationally known religious leaders for an annual event. 

With the leadership of Dr. Selden Smith and South Carolina Holocaust survivors and their children, we formed the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust, designed to honor South Carolina survivors of the Holocaust and their descendants, and the South Carolinians and their descendants who participated in the liberation of concentration camps. This led to the erection of a beautiful monument honoring their memory in downtown Columbia. 

Shortly after arriving in Columbia, I joined The Luncheon Club, a racially diverse group that promotes collegiality and is informative on current issues. It originated in 1962 when African Americans were unable to eat in white establishments. It continues to meet today. I became heavily involved in interracial relations and formed a Black-Jewish Coalition which held dialogues, pulpit exchanges, and a joint Passover Seder held at my temple.

All in all, I feel that I have grown in knowledge and discretion over the years of my rabbinate and have a greater understanding of how interdependent we Jews are with the rest of our population and how important good community relations are.

Sanford T. Marcus is the Rabbi Emeritus of the Tree of Life Congregation in Columbia, South Carolina. He served as the spiritual leader of the synagogue for twenty years prior to his retirement in 2006. Ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1970, he is a recipient of two master’s degrees, and was awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degree. 

CCAR Convention congregations Immigration

Remarkable Moments in a 50-Year Rabbinate

Each year at CCAR Convention, we honor members of our organization who were ordained 50 years ago or more. In advance of CCAR Convention 2020, March 22-25 in Baltimore, Rabbi Sanford T. Marcus reflects on the importance of community outreach.

This coming year marks the 50th year of my ordination, the last class during Nelson Glueck’s tenure as president of HUC-JIR. It is also the 60th anniversary of remaining on the Brandeis University waiting list!

I had a first and last job at Temple Beth-El in Providence, Rhode Island.  I succeeded Rabbi Braude whose vaunted reputation was deserved. I was only 31 when elected Senior Rabbi of a 1,200 family congregation. At the time there was no Placement Commission to prevent my succession. When I informed my mother of this happy news, she exclaimed, “Honey, do you think you’re competent?”  She had a point. Happily, it turned out that a caring presence can trump competence. I have been over-honored through the years. I am the only rabbi to be elected to the Rhode Island Hall of Fame. I have been awarded seven honorary degrees. It is satisfying to feel that I have made a difference for good.  

I have many life-saturated memories of my rabbinic career. Two are particularly compelling. Anya Volnyskaya was a youngster in the former Soviet Union who was “twinned” with many American young girls celebrating their B’nai Mitzvah. An empty chair was placed on their bimahs in her honor. This dramatized the plight of Refusniks. Years later, Anya and her family moved to Providence. She yearned to celebrate her own Bat Mitzvah. As this festive occasion approached, she invited the six girls from around the country who once prayed for her to be allowed to leave Russia. They all came. Surrounding Anya as she began reading Torah, they joined in a chorus of the Shehecheyanu prayer. There was not a dry eye in the congregation.  

Dr. Myer Saklad led a health team to the Warsaw Ghetto after it was subsumed by fire. When he arrived, the ground was still warm. Saklad came across a human skull and instinctively cradled it in his arms. He took it home. Years later when he was dying, the doctor came with the human remains wrapped in stiff brown paper tied with string. What should he do? The week following Rosh Hashanah we gently placed it in our temple cemetery next to prayer books that could no longer be used.  I have never participated in a more moving burial.  

I have been blessed by two remarkable women. Julie was instrumental building my career and our family. She was the cherished mother of Rebecca and Elizabeth. She died tragically in her fifties. Rebecca named her son Jonah in her memory. 

Janet Engelhart brought Allison and two more grandsons into my life. Her brother said at our wedding that she is distinguished by her big heart. He was so right. Her gifts of spirit created a loving, unified family.

On the Jubilee occasion of my ordination, I have much for which I am grateful.  Rebecca is a Reform Rabbi.  From generation to generation.  Now, if I could only hear from Brandeis!

Leslie Y. Gutterman is rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth-El in Providence, Rhode Island, and currently serves on the CCAR Taskforce on Retirees and Sucessors.

CCAR Convention Convention

CCAR Convention 2020: Acting Upon the Jewish Moral Imperative to Confront Climate Change

If you are anything like me, I imagine you strive to reduce your harm on the environment. Perhaps you bring reusable bags to the supermarket or limit your use of single use plastic and paper products. Maybe you compost or drink coffee from a reusable travel mug.  

And yet, if you are anything like me, despite having made some or all of these personal lifestyle changes, you feel that these small tweaks to your daily routines aren’t enough. Large scale systemic changes are what’s needed to positively impact the future of our fragile planet. 

This year at CCAR Convention in Baltimore, I am thrilled that we’ll dive deep into both the small scale actions we can take and the systemic changes we can fight for to truly be spiritual leaders on the devastating issue of climate change. 

On Wednesday morning, Karenna Gore, activist, advocate, and Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary will inspire us as religious leaders with her moral and ethical vision for climate justice. After learning from her, we’ll gather for workshops that give us tools and strategies to take back home and implement locally. Topics will include: clean and accessible water, rising sea levels, and we’ll also learn from experts at Baltimore’s National Aquarium. 

Choni the Circle Maker from Taanit 23 famously states that he plants a tree, not for his own benefit but for the good of generations to come. In doing so, Choni reminds us of the urgency of working today to benefit the future. But have you read the end of this Choni parable? There, we learn that when Choni makes his infamous time travel journey 70 years into the future, upon visiting the Beit Midrash, no one recognizes him, and he is left alone. He cries out in pain from the grief he feels of being left out. This ending to the story gives us an equally important moral about the need for community. Choni reminds us that we cannot act effectively when we are alone. We need each other.

This idea certainly rings true for me as a solo clergy in a small congregation and as a Hillel rabbi on a local campus. At Convention, I draw energy and strength from being with you all and feeling that together we can raise our voices to positively impact our fragile planet, its plants, animals, and human beings.

If you haven’t yet registered for this year’s Convention, please consider joining us. It will be a better Convention with you there.

I look forward to seeing you all in Baltimore!

Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor is the rabbi of Beth Israel Congregation in Bath, Maine and Bowdoin College and a member of the CCAR Convention committee. CCAR Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22–25, 2020. 

CCAR Convention Convention Social Justice

A Hands-On Farming Experience at the Pearlstone Center in Baltimore at CCAR Convention 2020

My name is Rabbi Jessy Dressin, and I am a community rabbi in Baltimore and the Director of Repair the World Baltimore, an organization that aims to make meaningful service a defining part of American Jewish life by mobilizing young Jews to volunteer in local communities to help transform neighborhoods, cities, and lives through service experiences rooted in Jewish values.

I have not been to a CCAR Convention to date but was excited to be asked to join the CCAR Convention 2020 Committee and help curate opportunities that are special to Baltimore for Convention participants. There are so many things about Baltimore and the Baltimore Jewish community to share with colleagues both during and prior to Convention that are special to Charm City.

Many of you may have visited the Pearlstone Conference and Retreat Center for various conferences over the years. If you have, you have probably appreciated such a vast space of land dedicated to Jewish education, experience, and gathering.  You may have even been lucky enough to enjoy some homegrown produce from the farm at one of your kosher and conscious meals provided to guests during conferences and gatherings.

Whether you have visited Pearlstone before or this might be your first time, I am excited about a unique opportunity for rabbis to participate in as part of the pre-Convention track. Our visit to Pearlstone will include the opportunity to roll up our sleeves and help with some preparations in various ways for the upcoming farming season. Activities may range from prepping beds, starting seeds (planting seeds that can incubate in the greenhouse until they are rooted enough to be planted into the ground), and other fun preliminary activities that are essential for an abundant growing season that begins with the coming of spring. Also, baby goats! Just this last week, two baby goats were born at Pearlstone, which means there will likely be even more by the time we arrive in March.

During our visit we will also have the opportunity to do some learning with Rabbi Psachyah Lichtenstein, a farmer and Director of Education at the Pearlstone Center, who always finds way to engage the mind, body, and spirit in thinking about our Jewish connection to the land. He will engage us in rich learning and open up conversations amongst our group that are sure to inspire. We will also have the opportunity to do some additional learning to take what we experienced at Pearlstone and help us bring it back to our local communities—since we can’t all have a Pearlstone around the corner.

As an HUC-JIR student, I spent two summers living at Pearlstone. Thanks to Rabbi Joel Mosbacher, Pearlstone hosted a summer kollel where folks would work to farm the land in the morning and spend the afternoon in the beit midrash, learning traditional and contemporary Jewish texts that helped us to become better acquainted with Judaism’s deep relationship to the land and our agricultural cycles and rhythm. It was a pluralistic living and learning environment that forged relationships and uncovered texts that carry meaning to this day. 

One need not be a farmer, an environmentalist, or even a regular farmer’s market enthusiast to enjoy this experience. I hope you’ll consider joining us for this exciting pre-Conference gathering. Also, did I mention baby goats?

Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22-25, 2020. CCAR members can register here for Convention and for the Pearlstone Center Pre-Convention program, which takes place Sunday, March 22.

CCAR Convention

Rabbinic Growth: Learning Modern, Diverse Rabbinic Skills at CCAR Convention 2020

We are so excited to be offering a number of learning opportunities this year at CCAR Convention in Baltimore to help each of us grow in our rabbinates. On a personal level, I thoroughly enjoy spending time with colleagues and friends, in study with some of our fantastic teachers and scholars, and hearing from prominent figures who are doing the important work we are all engaged in. However, one area I always look forward to is to learning from those who are at the forefront of the experience of the modern rabbinate.

For example, a few years ago, when I had just taken on the role of senior rabbi at a previous congregation, I chose to attend Larry Dressler’s presentation on Rabbi as Supervisor. I was struggling with a staff of wonderful people, but who were not necessarily the right people for their particular roles within the congregation. Larry explained that every dollar a congregation spends is part of a sacred trust with the congregants. He challenged the idea of keeping people in their roles because they have been part of the congregational family rather than because they are doing the good work of the congregation. This insight helped my community make some very tough but important choices. I have used this guiding insight ever since, especially because supervision has been a major part of my rabbinate for the past ten plus years. We are excited to welcome back Larry Dressler, who will be presenting to us Rabbi as Supervisor: The Art of One-on-One.

This is but one example of the many learning opportunities offered at Convention. We will have a number of presentations, including many that are not specific to the congregational rabbinate. For example:

  • Eric Abbott, who works at the Hillel at Johns Hopkins University, will be bringing some of his students to talk with us about Reform Judaism on college campuses.
  • Shira Koch Epstein will be speaking about Entrepreneurial Community Building: The Life Cycle of a Start-Up Project.
  • Jo Hirschmann will be presenting on Providing Spiritual Care to People Who Are Transgender and/or Non-binary: Lessons from Healthcare Settings.
  • We will also be focusing on issues relating to ethics, antisemitism, fundraising, radical reinvention, and so many more. These are just a few examples of the many offerings we will be providing during the Convention in Baltimore.

Our rabbinates are increasingly diverse. The skill sets we must have are beyond the scope of what many of us learned in our seminaries. I feel CCAR Convention is one of the greatest opportunities to learn how we can broaden our approaches to our various rabbinates. With this in mind, we have been listening to HUCAlum, Ravkav, and our various Facebook rabbinic groups to see where you are and the areas you are concerned about.

While we’re not able to cover every topic, our hope is that we offer enough learning opportunities that you will find of value. I am still grateful to Larry’s presentation at our Boston Convention so many years ago as well as to the variety of presentations before and since. Many of them have and continue to help shape my rabbinate, and I hope we are able to offer the same opportunities to you as well.

If you haven’t, please consider registering and joining us at our Convention in Baltimore. Aside from being at an incredible location in a vibrant and dynamic city, it will also be a great chance to broaden your rabbinate in profound ways.

Rabbi Benjamin Sharff is the senior rabbi of The Reform Temple of Rockland in Nyack, New York and a member of the 2020 CCAR Convention Committee. Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22-25, 2020.

CCAR Convention Immigration Social Justice

Embedding Ourselves in Baltimore: What Rabbis at CCAR Convention 2020 Can Learn From an Immigration Outreach Center Born Out of a Catholic Church

When the planning committee for the upcoming 2020 CCAR Convention met last spring, we asked ourselves, “How could we be in Baltimore and not look to understand the issues that the residents of this city meet each day?”

Like Cincinnati, Orange County, and Atlanta in recent memory, this convening of the Central Conference of American Rabbis will include opportunities to learn from some of the social justice issues endemic to Charm City. When we are together in March, we will explore issues around immigration, the toll of gun violence, climate change, the safety and care of people who are sex workers, and much more. 

One workshop I am excited about will be with Baltimore’s Immigrant Outreach Service Center (IOSC). This 501c3 organization is an immigration center which grew out of a social justice campaign at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Baltimore, through the help of foreign-born parishioner volunteers. IOSC helps immigrants build successful lives, offering a variety of services as wide as the variety of people they serve. There is a lot for us to learn from this organization that we can apply to our work settings: in advance of Passover, we will hear from people who came to the United States running from terrible circumstances towards a better opportunity for themselves and their families. We can also find inspiration from the experience of St. Matthew; the congregation’s demographics shifted with each passing year and so did the variety of programs they used to meet the needs of this changing population. And we will learn from the IOSC Executive Director and Senior Pastor of St. Matthew about how they created an independent non-profit organization that does essential justice work and has served immigrants from 123 countries.

As the CCAR continues to serve rabbis who serve in a multiplicity of settings, the Convention committee is also working to create learning opportunities that serve us. As we navigate the future of Jewish life in this time of change, I know that the social justice offering at CCAR Convention will inspire us all and supply tangible resources and inspiration to fuel the work we will do at home. I will see you in Baltimore. 

Rabbi Eleanor Steinman serves as an associate rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, Texas. CCAR Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22-25, 2020. 

CCAR Convention

A Community of Holy Souls—Why Rabbis Urgently Need to Come Together at CCAR Convention 2020

In Ecclesiastes 1:4 we read, Generations come and generations go, but the Earth remains forever. I used to find great comfort in these words, but of late I wonder about the truth behind this statement. Personally I am feeling overwhelmed and a bit helpless with all that is confronting us, asking myself how do I respond to those who seek out my council when I too am deeply concerned for our future?

As religious leaders, many of us find ourselves feeling battered and bruised from the numerous needs and issues that come at us 24/7. Needing to find ways to care for so many may leave us feeling isolated and alone. A Facebook Group can certainly allow for the scream into the night, but it lacks the ability for authentic human contact between individuals who understand our unique responsibilities, our inner realities. We rabbis need holy souls to sit with in real time to share our concerns, to open up our hearts, and share what’s on our minds, and most importantly to dream together.

This is where our annual CCAR Convention can offer each one of us so much.

When you attend a CCAR Convention, you give yourself the gift of time.

Time to recharge your soul and nourish your mind;

Time to experience heart-opening prayer and stimulating Torah Lishmah;

Time to reconnect with colleagues to share ideas, provide council, or just catch up;

Time to refresh, learning from coaches able to mentor us to be our best, to rediscover our gifts.

At this year’s Convention, you will discover a program that highlights the very best thinkers and activists, change agents, and visionaries, dealing with the major issues of our time: antisemitism, the 2020 election, Israel, the environmental crisis, racial bias, women’s experience in the rabbinate, and other critically important topics impacting us and our communities.

By being together in Baltimore, we are able to be connect with members of our rabbinical body and speak with our CCAR leadership to share with them what each of us—from chaplains, to pulpit leaders, educators, and Hillel directors— needs to thrive within our individual rabbinates. Each and every one of us is tasked with the responsibility to respond to the spiritual and social needs of our times, so let us come together at CCAR Convention.

As they say on every airline flight, “Place the mask on yourself before assisting others.”

I hope you will join me March 22–25, 2020 in Baltimore, where together we will confront the issues of our day, and find our way forward to better assure a strong and bright future for ourselves, our rabbinate, our communities, and our world.

Give yourself the gift of renewal, the gift of CCAR Baltimore Convention 2020.

Register today!

Alexandria Shuval-Weiner is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell, Georgia and the chair of the CCAR Convention Committee. CCAR Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22-25, 2020. CCAR members can register here.

CCAR Convention Prayer

‘Elohim nitzav baadat El’—Standing Together In the Divine Assembly at CCAR Convention 2020

One of the things I love most about coming to CCAR Convention each year is the chance to pray with other rabbis. Shared t’filah each morning mean getting to be part of a “congregation” of people who know liturgy intimately and who share a vocabulary about the range of what prayer is “for.” 

Coming together this way, for me, means getting to sink into something so comfortably familiar, with others I may have once davened next to each day at HUC-JIR, or whom I’ve never met before but with whom I nonetheless share so much common, core experience of prayer. It means getting to learn from being led by colleagues, some of whose expertise I may technically share but whose prayer leadership can help me to examine, hone, and play with my own practice. It means getting to be in a minyan as a participant, without needing to be an exemplar for someone else’s spiritual experience, or a wordsmith to figure out just what the multiplicity of people around me need. As a rabbi who is currently regularly on the bimah, it offers me a chance to just … be part of a community and pray.

This year, I find myself particularly longing for and looking forward to being together in our moments of shared rabbis’ t’filah. The Psalmist wrote “Elohim nitzav baadat El—God stands among God’s gathering” (Psalm 82:1).  We are those whose professional work is to gather others in the name of what is holy. When we gather together ourselves, what a way to invite what is holy to stand with us, in us, through us—to give us the healing we need and to empower us to return to our own work more whole. 

I have the honor this year, on the 2020 Convention Committee, of getting to think about and plan with colleagues the t’filah sessions we will hold Tuesday and Wednesday mornings (multiple prayer options each morning, each paired with a beit midrash session so that we can learn together in the same spaces that we pray), as well as our Kaddish gathering moments each night. 

Hinei mah tov—how good it will be when we come together.

Rabbi Jordi Schuster Battis is the Associate Rabbi of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, Massachusetts and a member of the CCAR Convention committee. CCAR Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22-25, 2020. CCAR members can register here.

CCAR Convention Torah

Baltimore Beit Midrash: Learning From the Greatest Scholars of Our Generation at CCAR Convention 2020

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.

CCAR Convention Rabbis spirituality

50 Years a Rabbi: A Path Less Traveled

Martin Buber’s philosophy and Hasidic spiritual revival, along with my attraction to intensive small group experiences, brought me to rabbinical school. Five years later, as a senior at HUC-JIR in Cincinnati, I had my life mapped out: I accepted a Fellowship to the Social Psychology Department at the University of Michigan, along with an appointment to the part-time congregation there. But Richard Levy, an upper-class mentor at HUC, urged me to meet with his senior rabbi, Leonard Beerman, z”l, even though I insisted I was not available to be his next assistant.

Nevertheless, Leonard offered me the job, and then brought me to Los Angeles to meet some members of Leo Baeck Temple, a congregation famous for its social activism and non-theological teachings. Just before I was to return to Cincinnati, having once again declined his offer, Leonard said something like, “When I was beginning my career, I wish I had been able to be with someone who could help me with things like weddings and funerals.” Suddenly feeling how very unprepared I was, I said, “Okay. I’m coming.”

Not everyone was happy with my sudden change of direction, but, months later, when I met with a father and three children who brought with them the suicide note of their 41-year-old wife and mother, I gratefully marched into my senior rabbi’s office and laid out the situation. “What do I do?” I asked. He thought for a moment, then said, “I have no idea. Let me know what you do.”

It took me a long time to get past my sense of betrayal and realize what a gift Leonard had given me. In many ways, that moment pushed me onto my own path, needing to trust my own instincts and access a deeper Wisdom.

Pursuing my interest in small-group process, I became a Sensitivity Group leader. In the context of that intense training, some of the shells around my heart broke open, and things began to change both personally and professionally. Returning from a week at Esalen Institute in December 1969, a rockslide on Highway One shattered my basic sense of reality with what I later learned was called an OOBE, an out-of-body experience. Although it was some time before I would share that with others, I awakened to an identity beyond the limits of my physical self. Because of the profound clarity of that realization, I began learning and practicing meditation, hoping to revisit that sacred space less dramatically. I was no longer the same person who had been hired by Leo Baeck Temple a year and a half earlier, and I declined an offer of a third year.

This time, I followed Richard Levy into the Hillel environment, and at Cal State University, Northridge, I worked with Rabbi Michael Roth, a yeshiva classmate of Shlomo Carlebach, who would become my primary teacher, mentor, and friend, until his death in early 2017.

Because spirituality and meditation had become primary for me, but were not core agendas of synagogue life, I entered a graduate program at the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, where I could more openly pursue my spiritual and psychological interests. Away from the professional rabbinate, I found a surprisingly natural way of being rabbi, counseling and officiating at life-cycle moments for faculty and fellow students. Since that time, I have focused on sharing the spiritual authenticity at the heart of Jewish tradition, developing a psycho-spiritual approach to Torah. My work has included the founding of two meditative synagogues (Makom Ohr Shalom in Los Angeles in 1978, and Bet Alef in Seattle in 1993); practicing as a therapist and spiritual counselor; becoming, along with Pastor Don Mackenzie and Imam Jamal Rahman, an Interfaith Amigo; and authoring or co-authoring a number of books.

While I retired from congregational life at the end of 2009, I continue to write, do counseling, travel with my Amigos, and work as an independent teacher of a universal spirituality based in Jewish text and tradition, seeking universal teachings from other great spiritual paths in order to support the healing of person and planet that needs to be. I am deeply grateful for the road less traveled on which I have found myself.

Rabbi Ted Falcon is celebrating 50 years in the rabbinate at the upcoming 2018 CCAR Convention.