In April 2021, the CCAR engaged Alcalaw—a women-founded and led, trauma-informed law firm—to undertake an in-depth investigation of the CCAR ethics system. Their written report has now been finalized and, as promised, we are making it publicly available in its entirety.
The scope of the report is the CCAR ethics process itself. Alcalaw’s mandate was to provide findings and recommendations to enable changes and updates to the process, and consideration of possible revisions to the Ethics Code. The document is therefore a process-based report that examines the entirety of the CCAR ethics system.
The report is long and detailed, but we encourage you to read and review it in its entirety. In the coming days and weeks, we will have more information about where and how to submit questions and comments.
We recognize that for many, reading the report may be painful. That is what made this report so necessary and essential—we must re-examine our past in order to create a better future. While this may be hard on many different levels, it is the right thing to do.
The report shows that our system is not broken, but also that it does need repair and improvement. It can, and must, be better. In fact, the CCAR ethics process was designed to be continually updated and revised. These recommendations are what we need to move our system to its next chapter.
We also want to acknowledge that Alcalaw reviewed and received information about ethics matters that are not detailed or have been anonymized in the written report. Some are about rabbinic ethical misconduct that predates the development of our current ethics system and Code. These reports are particularly painful and disturbing, but are not reflected in the report because they are outside of its scope. Nevertheless, these matters are not outside the scope of our learning, our history, or our need for repair. All of the information shared by Alcalaw will be appropriately recognized in our learning and t’shuvah (repentance and repair) processes.
This report provides a blueprint for much of the work that is to come. There are important lessons here and a great deal of work ahead. Some changes can and will be implemented in the near future, while others will take time to fully and thoughtfully study and implement.
The report foregrounds certain context and realities that are important to understand. The CCAR does not choose our members, nor do we hire or supervise them. Yet we are the center of Movement-wide concerns about the conduct of member rabbis. We therefore look forward to even greater coordination with our Movement partners as we work to create a shared set of norms and collaborations with the goal of ensuring a safe and sacred community. To reach our highest aspirations in the area of ethics, it is critical that we deepen the ways that we work together.
We are now moving into the process of implementing many of the recommendations listed in the written report:
- Creating an institutional t’shuvah process that will include a reckoning with our past and
- Implementing some of the concrete recommendations in the near future in order to help the current Ethics Committee do their work with better tools and better support.
- Bringing a set of nearer-term revisions of our Ethics Code to a special General Meeting of our membership in the next six months.
- Instructing the Ethics Task Force to take up the work begun by Alcalaw and create proposals for changes to the system in the next two years.
As we begin analyzing the recommendations and working on implementation and change-making, we commit to keeping you updated on our progress through regular status updates on our website.
In addition, in the days to come we will be announcing information about an online resource where you can ask questions about and share experiences related to the report.
We are deeply grateful to those who have courageously come forward to share the experiences reflected in the report. Your brave decision to speak with Alcalaw enables us to move forward with updating our ethics system to ensure that the CCAR and our communities remain safe and sacred.
Rabbi Lewis Kamrass, President
Rabbi Erica Asch, President Elect
Rabbi Ron Segal, Immediate Past President
Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis
If you would like to report an ethics complaint, please email Ethics@ccarnet.org.
For media inquiries, please contact Tamar Anitai, CCAR Director of Strategic Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org.