Economy Rabbis

CCRJ Working Conditions Study 2020: Developing a Structure for Comparing Canadian and United States Rabbinical Employment Conditions

In early 2020, the Reform Rabbis of Canada (RROC), Canadian Council for Reform Judaism (CCRJ), the URJ, and the CCAR commissioned David Baskin to look at the question of how we compare United States and Canadian rabbinic salaries. Baskin is a lawyer and wealth management professional in Toronto with deep ties to our Canadian Reform Jewish community. We are grateful that he threw himself deeply and enthusiastically into this challenging puzzle.

For years, rabbis and congregations have confronted the issue that while both Canada and the United States refer to their respective currencies as “dollars,” the purchasing power of those dollars differs greatly because of their relative value to each other and the structural differences in the social and economic systems of both countries.

This document lays out the areas that should be considered when comparing compensation packages in the U.S. and Canada.

As Baskin points out, “A very common error is taking a U.S. package of, for example, $150,000 USD and saying, well, that’s equal to $200,000 Canadian dollars, so those are comparable salaries. This ignores a lot of nuance and complexity.”

A slightly better approach is to compare after-tax packages, which will vary from state to state and province to province. This is easy to do with online resources. Even better, if more complex, is to look at after-tax and after-healthcare costs. The RPB and the CCAR do not have comprehensive data on U.S. health care benefits, and this can be a major component of the cross-border comparison.

Finally, it is a mistake to ignore “soft” factors such as purchasing power, employment standards, parental leave, human rights protections, and child-related expenses. 

This document is a first-of-its-kind and a long-overdue attempt to help both rabbis and congregations make better use of the CCAR Rabbinic Compensation study data and comparisons as it relates Canadian congregations and their rabbis. (The CCAR is currently at work on the next iteration of the compensation study.)

A huge thank you to David Baskin for his diligent work on this project, and to Pekka Sinervo, Sandy Pelly, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Rabbi Ron Segal, Rabbi Hara Person, and Rabbi Cindy Enger for their help and support for this project.

Rabbi Dan Moskovitz serves Temple Sholom in Vancouver, BC and also serves as the Chair of Reform Rabbis of Canada.
Please visit our website to view the full CCRJ Working Conditions Study 2020.

CCAR Convention

Gender Issues are Mens’ Issues

As we are about to reconvene in dinners focused on an aspect of gender identity at the CCAR in Chicago, I remember my obligation to write a small piece about why a group of men got together to talk about gender issues at the CCAR last year, in 2013.

As we aim to bring real egalitarianism to our synagogues, Reform Judaism, and our countries, it has become abundantly clear that when men and women progress through the same jobs, equality in treatment, pay, and benefits works to everyone’s advantage. We must enlist men to see that gender issues affect everyone, including men.

Here are three issues that come to mind immediately that impact women and men as rabbis:

  • When a woman gets paid less in a job than a man who may then succeed her in that job, we have lowered the pay standards for both men and women.
  • When standards are different for men and women because of benefits that may come from partners, organizations’ standards for offering benefits may drop as well.
  • Expectations and treatment of partners differ based on gender.
  • Many of these issues were raised in the last month by President Obama and are also discussed in an article from Slate last year.

These issues are complicated. That doesn’t remove from us the obligation of working to proceed in a more-fair-for-all direction, especially as we encourage egalitarian parenting too.

These issues already exist in our movement. Some have been discussed on RavKav. I believe very strongly that we need to begin to create a system of principles on these issues from which we can negotiate reasonable and fair outcomes in our constituent organizations.

The CCAR is responsible for leading the way on social issues for all of our rabbis. Men must recognize that gender issues are our issues, so that we can truly bring equality to all.

Thanks for reading, if you have so far, I look forward to figuring out ways to participate in moving forward on these issues.

Happy Spring to all,


Rabbi Jonathan Freirich serves as associate rabbi at Temple Beth El in Charlotte, NC.