This month I'd like to share my thoughts on a few miscellaneous but important topics.
1. I had the pleasure of attending the ordination of 10 new rabbis from the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, and two days later I also attended (remotely, via a live stream) the ordination of 14 new rabbis and the investiture of 2 new cantors from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. These were very exciting events. Seeing these new young clergy at the start of their careers was heart-warming and gave me great hope for the future of Conservative Judaism. I had met many of the Ziegler rabbis as students several times over the past few years, and had already been impressed by their knowledge, the depth of their wisdom, and their spirituality, and by their creative ideas for leading their future congregations. While I don't know personally the JTS rabbis and cantors, I'm sure that they have the same characteristics. I had mistakenly thought that the need for new rabbis was diminishing, since our Movement has lost many synagogues over the past several years, but I've learned that this is not the case. In fact all the Ziegler rabbis were readily able to find positions, and I'd guess that the same applies to the JTS clergy. I'm sure that the congregations (or other Jewish organizations) where the new clergy will be serving will find them to be energizing and inspiring!
2. Speaking of rabbis and creative ideas to lead congregations, did you know that FJMC has developed, in conjunction with the Cantors Assembly, three innovative models for alternate Shabbat morning prayer services? The purpose of these services is to increase congregants' knowledge of the rituals and prayers, to help them feel more comfortable in the sanctuary and build a Shabbat community. Our new Learners Service, Experiential Service, and Meditative Service have all been piloted at several synagogues, and will be showcased at our convention in just a few weeks.
3. Speaking of Convention (and who isn't these days?), it's not too late to register. If you haven't already made plans to attend, you are doing yourself and your club a real disservice. You are doing yourself a disservice because there is no better place to develop your leadership skills, make new friends, and have a fun and inspiring time than at convention. You are doing your club a disservice because convention is the best place to learn how to grow and strengthen your club, and to learn about the amazing and meaningful new programs that FJMC will be launching that will bring tremendous value to your club and your members. You really have to be there! Consider this my personal invitation to attend. I guarantee that you will be glad that you did.
4. Finally, the results of the World Zionist Congress elections should be made public in the next week or so. Many of your FJMC leaders are looking forward to attending the Congress next October in Jerusalem to represent you and the Conservative/Masorti Movement, either as delegates or as alternate delegates, depending on the outcome of the elections. The recent unfortunate incident when the Mayor of Rehovot cancelled the special Bar/Bat Mitzvah program for children with disabilities because it was to take place in the city's Masorti congregation has served to underscore the importance of our participation at the Congress to work for greater pluralism in Israel.
As always, please feel free to post comments here on any of the topics I've covered. I hope the beginning of your summer is great, and I look forward to seeing you all in Miami Beach for convention!