The CCAR is proud to announce the formation of the Task Force on the Experience of Women in the Rabbinate. This new task force has been a focus of conversation and planning since March. With Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus serving as the chair and Amy Schwartzman as vice-chair, the CCAR is now taking an active step toward addressing the reality of life in the rabbinate as experienced by women rabbis. The task force will be a multi-year process, beginning with an in-depth inquiry and study phase. The specific outcome of the task force will be shaped in the course of that process, but the overall goal is to create tools and protocols that will help lead to a culture change within the Reform Movement.
The conversation about sexual harassment and sexual assault going on in our society at large comes at a time when the CCAR stands ready to launch this task force. The need for this task force became evident from conversations that emerged in the aftermath of the national election of 2016, the publication of The Sacred Calling: Four Decades of Women in the Rabbinate, and the CCAR member support study. We know that women rabbis still encounter substantial obstacles which require critical conversation and examination. Women rabbis report experiencing gender-based bias, inappropriate comments, sexual harassment, sexual assault, lack of proper institutional support, undermining behavior, and issues related to contracts, pay equity, and parental leave. Intertwined with these challenges are also issues of sexuality and gender nonconformity. To some it is shocking that this is still going on, given that women have been Reform rabbis for going on 45 years, and to others it couldn’t be more obvious, a fact of everyday life. The task force will engage our membership and Movement partners to determine support systems, resources, and learning opportunities.
The responsibility to strengthen the Jewish community and enhance the professional and personal lives of Reform rabbis is central to the mission of the CCAR – and it is our ethical and professional mandate to address these deeply troubling challenges. This newly created Task Force will study the realities women face in order to identify their root causes and potential solutions. It will engage our membership, lay people, and our partner Reform institutions. Ultimately, it will create change for the good and bring healing, hope, and greater strength to our rabbinates and the communities we serve.
We look forward to sharing more with you as the process gets underway.
David Stern, CCAR President
Steve Fox, Chief Executive
Task Force Members*:
Ellen Dreyfus, Chair
Amy Schwartzman, Vice-Chair
Cantor Kerith Spencer-Shapiro
David Stern, CCAR President, Ex Officio
Steve Fox, Chief Executive, CCAR, Ex Officio
Hara Person, Chief Strategy Officer, Staff Liaison to Task Force
Cindy Enger, Director of Placement, Ex Officio
*The CCAR is pleased that the members of the Task Force represent a diverse cross-section of people, including rabbis from different phases of their careers, geographic locations, demographics, diverse rabbinates, and different personal backgrounds. The CCAR is also appreciative that many of the people CCAR invited to be part of the Task Force are involved in other areas of leadership in the Movement including HUC-JIR faculty/staff as well as a rabbinic student, a URJ lay leader and staff member, and members of WRN leadership.