Reform rabbis gathering ‘on the edge’


SAN FRANCISCO (j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California) — More than 500 Reform rabbis are expected to attend the 121st annual convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis in San Francisco.

The convention, scheduled for March 7-10, attracts Reform rabbis who work at Hillels and nonprofits, or in academia and congregations.

The most unique element of the long-standing conference will be the second day of the convention, which coordinators have dubbed “Innovations in Jewish Life: On the Edge of the Continent.”

Instead of spending the day in conference rooms, the rabbis will spend the morning in the community meeting with Jewish thinkers, artists, leaders and community organizers before reconvening in the afternoon to talk about what they have learned.

“We’re trying to create a dialogue, not a diatribe, so people can really talk out the issues,” said Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan, one of several Bay Area rabbis helping to plan the convention.

Rabbis at the conference will be able to choose from  among 10 options ranging in focus from mikvah movement to Jewish literature to bioethics to conflict resolution.

“What’s great fun about this is [the speakers] are people who do not feel they are a part of ‘normative, mainstream’ Jewish life, and here will be 500 rabbis coming to meet them,” Wolf-Prusan said. “We’re trying to create an intersection of dedicated rabbis and dedicated artists, poets, writers who may not normally meet each other.”

Wolf-Prusan is hoping that the field trips inspire and motivate the participants.

“It’s rare to hang out with people for whom the question ‘What if?’ comes first, before ‘How do we pay for it?’ or ‘Who will be upset by this?’ ” Wolf-Prusan said. “We want to create small and large opportunities for meaningful imagining and innovation because that’s the secret of the Jewish people. That’s what we do. We don’t have to wait for a disaster to be imaginative. We don’t have to wait for the next mortal challenge to reinvent ourselves.”

For information or a convention schedule, visit

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