August 19, 2021: A Letter from Rabbi Hara Person

With the coming of Rosh HaShanah, we turn our thoughts to the Book of Life and our place within it. How have we grown, how have we fallen short, how can we turn back to our highest aspirations? Where can we learn from our past mistakes, make amends, and build toward a better future?

As I write this, the current phase of the historical investigation of the CCAR ethics system is coming to a close. As a reminder, if you would like to speak with our investigators, you are invited to do so by August 27, 2021. This investigation is a painful but necessary process that provides a presents a clear and necessary opportunity to work towards healing and a better future. I am grateful for your support as we continue the very important and challenging work of examining our past to prepare the groundwork for moving forward.

After this listening phase ends, our legal team, Alcalaw, will embark on the next phase of their work, in which they will analyze the information they have learned and present findings and recommendations. After that, we will enter into a third phase: follow-up planning and change-making in order to both properly understand the past and plan for the future.

Each phase requires a tremendous amount of work to design and execute with care, concern, and dignity. I am so truly grateful for your patience. We will be in this process for some time to come because we want to be thoughtful, careful, and caring as we both reckon with the past and map out what comes next for the CCAR, our members, and those with whom we interact.

When we talk about our lives, we often have a tendency to recount only the good things. It can be painful and even retraumatizing to speak of the bad. But our tradition of Torah study teaches us the importance of also telling the hard stories. All stories, good and bad, happy and difficult, have something to impart. We need to acknowledge them and face them, to learn from them so that we can move into the new chapters that are to come. Our haggadah, Mishkan HaSeder, offers the following:

          In the dark times,
         Will there also be singing?
         Yes, there will also be singing
         About the dark times.
         —“Motto” by Bertolt Brecht

Even the darkest of times—the times of pain and despair—need be talked about, brought into the light, and incorporated into our collective story. They are part of who we are.

We are so grateful to all of you, both within and outside the CCAR, who have taken the courageous step of speaking with our investigators, and when relevant, with me, members of the CCAR staff, and CCAR leadership. The telling of these painful stories has been key to this important period of reflection, learning, and incorporating the brokenness so we can once again build toward wholeness and healing.

Thank you for being part of this journey toward repair.


Rabbi Hara Person
Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis