Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monday Blog at the CCAR Convention

Monday Blog at the CCAR Convention

First let me begin by confirming my suspicion that hotel convention dinners are bad. Nothing has changed.
Monday morning we had the worship service and just imagine 450 Rabbis gathered together. Men and women. Kippot, Talitot Tephillin are all part of the prayer garb that one would see at our services. Also one would see many using their Ipads which have the reform siddur MIshkan Tephillah. There we are in the 21st century in California with rabbis praying using their Ipads in hand. Technology!
The main part of the service was the installation of new CCAR president Rabbi Rick Block from Tifferet Israel in Cleveland, Ohio. I have known Rick for almost 30 years. He is most capable and delivered a stirring and pragmatic speech about the challenges rabbis face today. They are not only theological challenges in terms of what we and our congregants believe. But there are real issues that rabbis face that are professional concerns which deal with economics as well as employment and gender especially for women rabbis. He also spoke about the importance of our being involved in Israel. He urged us all to continue to lead our congregations to Israel and advocate for Israel with our national and state wide leaders to do our part to protect Israel's security.

I must say that it is a delightful change to be part of a large group of rabbis, just part of the crowd, praying or davening to the sounds of rabbis leading us in prayer. We are not on display trying our best to inspire the congregants. We are simply praying to God. We are praying with friends, old classmates, seminary teachers and spouses of colleagues. It is a refreshing sense of renewal and connectedness that only a convention can provide.
The large screens next to the stage had the hebrew text of the Siddur and beautiful imagery behind the words to enhance our singing. This is a new phenomena that congregations are starting to experiment with in communal worship. Maybe we should give it at try at Bet Yam?
 After services concluded there was a program called Rabbis organizing Rabbis. This was sponsored by the CCAR Justice and Peace Committee. The main theme was Immigration. Noting that the US Senate is taking up and will be voting on legislation for an Immigration Bill, this session was a kick off to jump start a new movement to inspire Reform Rabbis to get involved and show the moral leadership again in pursuing the prophetic values that distinguished Reform Judaism in its history. Immigration Reform is a hot topic today and we heard from a 23 year old undocumented college speaker who told her story about coming to the US at age five. She shared some of the typical stories that these 11 million people go through every day.  She definitely captured the hearts, souls and the conscience of the rabbis to get involved and find a fair solution to this perennial problem.

The next bit of information I learned concerns the future publication of a new High Holy Day Prayer Book (Mahzor). It is planned to be published for 2015. This will have a great impact upon all of us and we will have more to learn about this new development in the future. Tonight the program will focus  on the High Holy Day Prayerbook where the panel will discuss how to find the right kinds of metaphors that will fit for a high holy day prayerbook in our time and for the future. Rest assured this will not be an easy task.

Oh by the way I stopped by the technology bar again today and am picking up new information, and today Jewish resources for my Ipad, that I can share with you my congregation in many way both on and off the bimah.
 I think that is enough for now.
God bless you my congregation.
Rabbi Bloom

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