Things I never thought my rabbinic school education would prepare me to do:
- Study sales figures on spread sheets
- Spend time considering the merits of 50 # or 60# paper
- Ask questions like “how many pallets will fit on the loading dock?”
- Regularly use terms like kerning, analytics, DRM (digital rights management) or FOB (freight on board).
As rabbis, we all have similar lists, even if the details are different. In the course of our careers, we’ve all acquired practical skills for which our pastoral and text-based educations did not prepare us.
Right now CCAR Press is in the process of a move from one warehouse to another. Carefully moving hundreds of pallets holding thousands of books, as well as all the associated customer and sales data, is no small task. The move itself has been preceded by months of planning, preparation and negotiations. As you can imagine, there have been many meetings. Many, many meetings. We are eternally grateful to our wonderful, pro-bono lawyers from Proskauer and Rose.
The level of detail involved is staggering. Luckily the CCAR is blessed with a great team of staff members working hard to track all the details and put everything in place, from the categorization of customer types to the transfer of AR data to establishing the discount schedule to writing the wording that will go out on order confirmation emails. Like all of us, there are those moments when I jokingly say: and for this I went to rabbinic school?
Yet just like any rabbi who spends time rearranging chairs in the sanctuary, there’s a bigger end goal here. It’s not about the chairs or the trucks or the spreadsheets, it’s about what we do in order to fulfill our mission and plan for the future. The point of this warehouse move isn’t to become a specialist in sales, fulfillment, and distribution. All of this work of transferring pallets and boxes and data is really about providing rabbis, cantors, educators, chaplains, congregants, and students with the material they need. What drives all of this is the core mission of the CCAR:
The CCAR enriches and strengthens the Jewish community by empowering Reform Rabbis to provide religious, spiritual and organizational leadership as it:
- Fosters excellence in Reform Rabbis
- Enhances Reform Rabbis’ professional and personal lives
- Amplifies the voice of the Reform Rabbinate in the Reform Movement, the Jewish community and the world in which we live.
The CCAR Press supports the overall mission of the CCAR buy providing high quality publications for our members and for the Jewish community. Moving to a better, more up-to-date, efficient warehouse is thus one piece of the How, not the What.
We all know change doesn’t happen in an instant – there will surely be some bumps on the road as we transition to new software and processes. Converting to a new on-line ordering system is going to take some time. But we are sure that once it’s all properly in place, we will be able to serve our customers much better than we have been able to do up to now.
We also know that the balance is shifting from traditional p-books (printed books) to newer forms of content transmission. There is much we are doing everyday to meet these ever-changing needs. We now offer e-books for various devices, PDF downloads and apps, and will continue to offer more and more every year. In the meantime, many people still want p-books, especially for liturgical purposes, and so we must house them somewhere and ship them out somehow.
All of us in the Jewish world are thinking about the Jewish future. How can we best prepare for the needs of the future? How can we meet the challenges of the future? What skills should we be learning? What questions should we be asking? What changes should we be making? Here at the Press, this warehouse move is one way that we’re working on building the Jewish future, by improving the way that we provide you with the resources that you will use to strengthen, teach, unify, and inspire the Jewish community. This is especially important as we begin to plan for the printing, ordering, and shipping of Mishkan HaNefesh, the new CCAR Machzor. As our trucks load up and pull out onto the highway, taking Mishkan T’filah and all our other publications to their new, state-of-the-art home, they’re carrying our future on those pallets.
Rabbi Hara Person is the Publisher of CCAR Press.
Find some good bargains at our Clean-Out-the-Warehouse Sale, 3 days only!