Central Conference of American Rabbis Statement of Support for Israeli Reform Rabbis

October 30, 2023

The Central Conference of American Rabbis stands in solidarity with its members who serve in Israel. These rabbis are members of MARAM, the association of Reform Rabbis in Israel, our partner organization. Moreover, we stand in awe of our Israeli colleagues’ selfless service at this most tragic time in the history of the Jewish State. Reform rabbis in North America and around the world pledge support to our MARAM colleagues throughout the current crisis and beyond.

Even as our Israeli colleagues experience the personal trauma of the murder, injury, and abduction of their own family members, friends, and members of the communities they serve, even as they and their family members are called into service of the Israel Defense Forces, our Israeli colleagues are tending selflessly to the needs of their communities and the general public as well. MARAM members are standing with countless families at the graveside of a murdered loved one, praying with families of those who have been abducted, and caring for parents, spouses, children, and siblings of those who are serving Israel in harm’s way. These rabbis are providing the comfort and strength sorely needed at this terrible time.

In the wake of the brutal attack of October 7, some of our MARAM colleagues are serving communities that have been evacuated from their homes and dispersed throughout the nation; rabbis are traveling around the country to bury, console, and comfort their far flung congregants. Israeli Reform rabbis are lifting the voice of Torah to call for the swift return of captives. At the same time, they are spearheading efforts to provide traumatized evacuees with sorely needed material and spiritual support. And they are teaching their colleagues oversees by their example as they demonstrate what it means to show the fortitude and service in the face of crisis. Perhaps most important of all, our Israeli colleagues continue to lead their communities in Shabbat prayer, providing peace and hope to their communities and beyond.

As every rabbi knows, אם אין קמח אין תורה, “Where there is no bread, there is no Torah.”[i] Few MARAM colleagues are employed full-time by their communities. Many earn a significant share of their פרנסה, their livelihood, from simchas, officiating joyous occasions such as weddings and aliyot to the Torah. Understandably, few such celebrations are taking place in Israel now, and many of our MARAM colleagues have seem their income diminish significantly.

Since October 7, the CCAR has undertaken the responsibility of caring for our Israeli colleagues in a number of ways. We have sent emails of care and consolation, the CCAR board has made phone calls and texts, and our leadership has been in ongoing touch with MARAM leadership. We have offered crisis counseling with trained experts to our MARAM colleagues. We have designated emergency funding to several individual rabbis in dire financial circumstances.

The CCAR regularly gives its members the opportunity to donate to Rav L’Rav, our “Rabbi to Rabbi” program that provides supplemental support to MARAM, its members, and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism. These funds have just been shared with MARAM and IMPJ, offering some small subvention. Now, at the CCAR’s urging, MARAM launched a supplemental campaign to provide CCAR rabbis outside of Israel the opportunity to come to the aid of our colleagues at this time of need through becoming a Friend of MARAM. We are proud to say that 100% of the CCAR board has contributed to this important initiative. We urge all CCAR members outside Israel to participate generously.

We stand in awe of our MARAM colleagues, and send them our love, care, and utmost support. We will continue, as colleagues and friends, to try to ease the burden they are each carrying in these very difficult days.

Rabbi Erica Asch, President
Rabbi Hara E. Person, Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis

[i] Pirkei Avot 3.17.