April 27, 2021: An Ethics Update from Rabbis Lewis Kamrass and Hara Person


This is a time for listening and learning. This is also a time for action. The CCAR has enlisted Alcalaw LLP, a team of trauma-informed lawyers and consultants, to conduct a neutral investigation into the CCAR’s handling of ethics complaints. If you would like to report information about the CCAR’s handling of a previously filed ethics complaint, contact Alcalaw LLP here. If you would like to file a new ethics complaint, contact the CCAR Ethics Committee here.




The revelations shared today by Central Synagogue regarding their former senior rabbi, Sheldon Zimmerman, are devastating. We are saddened to know of the pain and irreparable harm experienced by several women and carried through the decades. When a rabbi misuses the power and trust of their title, we are all harmed.


This is a time for listening, learning, and institutional self-reflection for the CCAR. There are many questions that we must ask about the CCAR investigation of Rabbi Zimmerman that was undertaken in 2000 so that we can learn from the past as we consistently strive to provide an ethics system that conforms with ever-evolving best practices. We know that our ethics system today is far different than the system in place when Rabbi Zimmerman’s case was presented in 2000. The ethics process has undergone many changes since that time, and continues to be updated almost every year, including most recently at our Convention last month.


The CCAR has already committed to engaging in a serious review process that will result in meaningful change, a decision made by our Board five months ago. The recent disclosures by Central Synagogue come at a time when the CCAR has already begun a process to undertake an audit and assessment of our ethics system, as announced at our convention last month. We decided to undertake this process with the goal of upgrading our system and creating an even greater level of accountability. To that end, as a first step, we have engaged a team of trauma-informed attorneys who have begun to review our system and share their expertise. As this process continues, we will partner with experts to help us undertake this audit and assessment, and make recommendations for meaningful change in both policies and procedures.


We know that we are at an inflection point. We know too that our commitment to real change means that there is difficult but necessary work ahead. The road in front of us will not be easy, but the safety and well-being of the communities our rabbis serve is a priority.




Rabbi Lewis Kamrass, President
Hara Person, Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis