July 8, 2021: A CCAR Ethics Update from Rabbi Hara Person

It has now been two months since CCAR President Lewis Kamrass and I announced that the CCAR hired Alcalaw LLP to conduct a neutral and thorough review of the CCAR ethics process. By undertaking this review, we are endeavoring to critically examine how we as a conference have responded in the past to complaints of misconduct by member rabbis that were reported to the Ethics Committee. We are not re-investigating formerly adjudicated cases, but rather examining the CCAR’s ethics process in those cases. As the Chief Executive of the CCAR during this period of introspection, I am committed to learning about how the work of the Ethics Committee has impacted the lives of those it has affected over the years and using that information to inform our efforts to evolve the process in a thoughtful way.

I want to thank anyone who may have already participated in the process by speaking to our legal team at Alcalaw. The inquiry is ongoing, and I want to encourage those inclined to share their experience with the CCAR ethics process, whether as a complainant, witness, or member rabbi, to schedule a time to do so by contacting Alcalaw here.

The CCAR intends to use the information learned from Alcalaw’s investigation to effectuate changes to our ethics process and is committed to doing so in a way that is mindful of the sensitivities and privacy interests at stake for those who have shared their lived experiences. If you are hesitant to share your experience with the CCAR ethics process because of concerns about your confidentiality, or if you wish to request that your account be anonymized, I encourage you to contact Alcalaw to discuss these considerations in advance of deciding whether to speak with them about your experience at greater length.

Even while Alcalaw conducts its historical review, the work of the CCAR Ethics Committee continues unabated. If you have information about—but have not previously reported—a CCAR rabbi you believe has violated the Ethics Code, please share that information with the Ethics Committee by contacting them here.

As our work continues, I am optimistic about the good that will come from this process and remain hopeful that our Reform community can unify around the principles of ethics, fairness, and compassion.

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