Reform Jewish Rabbinate Elects New Leader

Rabbi Jonathan A. Stein of Shaaray Tefila in New York City Installed as President of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; As Reform Movement Leader, His Emphasis Will Be Rethinking the Role of Rabbis in the 21st Century

NEW ORLEANS, LA and NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - March 28, 2011) - The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), the world's largest group of Jewish clergy, announces that Rabbi Jonathan A. Stein, DD, 62, Rabbi of Shaaray Tefila in New York City, has been installed as the new President of the CCAR, the world's oldest and largest group of Jewish clergy, representing nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis.

Rabbi Stein was installed today in New Orleans, during the CCAR's 122nd Annual Convention. He succeeds Rabbi Ellen Weinberg Dreyfus, 59, Rabbi of B'nai Yehuda Beth Sholom in Homewood, IL, who will be completing her two-year term as CCAR President.

As president, Rabbi Stein is the senior governing officer of the CCAR Board of Trustees. He is joined by six other officers: President-Elect Rabbi Richard Block (Cleveland, OH), Vice-President of Financial Affairs Rabbi William Kuhn (Philadelphia, PA); Vice-President of Leadership Rabbi Amy Schwartzman (Falls Church, VA); Vice President of Member Services Rabbi Denise Eger (West Hollywood, CA), Vice-President of Organizational Relationships Rabbi David Stern (Dallas, TX); and Vice President of Programs Rabbi Robert Loewy (New Orleans, LA).

Said Rabbi Dreyfus, "Rabbi Stein's experience in congregations from coast to coast and in the heartland gives him a breadth and depth of understanding about the Jewish world and the important role of the rabbi. He will guide the CCAR with wisdom and insight. I look forward to his leadership."

Among the themes Rabbi Stein plans to emphasize during his tenure:

  • Creating a blueprint for the evolving role of rabbis in the Reform movement.

    "About 30% of Reform rabbis are now community rabbis and not affiliated with a congregation. They have other roles such as academics and chaplains. We need to make sure their voice helps redefine the movement," Rabbi Stein said.

  • Facing up to the effects of the economic downturn.

"As congregations and other institutions have cut back, we now, for the first time, have under-employed rabbis. We must help them continue to contribute -- and do so in a way that supports their emotional and economical needs," he said.

  • Responding to challenges faced by women rabbis.

"While seminary is now half male and half female, women are under-represented in the higher income rank of Reform rabbis. They're paid less for equal work, and we need to address that."

  • Support for Israel in the context of the current geo-political environment.

Rabbi Stein was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1975 and graduated with a B.S. in Economics from University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, in 1969.

He is on the faculty of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and previously served as Senior Rabbi of Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation from 1978-1994 and as Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel of San Diego from 1994-2001. He has served as a board member and officer of more than 40 organizations. He was chairman of the Board of the United Way of San Diego, president of Operation Understanding; a board member of the Marion County Commission on Youth and the Indiana Interreligious Commission on Human Equality as well as a member of the San Diego Human Relations Commission. He is currently a member of the World Union for Progressive Judaism International Interfaith Task Force, the Partnership of Faith in New York City and the Yorkville Christian-Jewish Council.

Rabbi Stein has been married to Susan Pollock Stein for over 40 years. They have two children and four grandchildren together.

More information may be found at the CCAR Web site: To speak with Rabbi Stein, obtain photos or for additional information about the CCAR, please contact Itay Engelman at Sommerfield Communications, Inc. at (212) 255-8386 or

About The CCAR

The Central Conference of American Rabbis, founded in 1889, is the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in North America. As the professional organization for Reform Rabbis of North America, the CCAR projects a powerful voice in the religious life of the American and international Jewish communities. Since its establishment, the CCAR has a rich history of giving professional and personal support to Reform rabbis, providing them opportunities for study, professional development and spiritual growth beginning while they are still in seminary, through mid-careers, and into retirement. The CCAR is uniquely positioned to meet the ongoing needs of its nearly 2,000 member rabbis (virtually the entire Reform rabbinate) and the entire Reform Jewish community. For more information please visit the CCAR's website at

About the Central Conference of American Rabbis 2011 Convention

The 122nd annual Central Conference American Rabbis convention is taking place in New Orleans, Louisiana from March 27-30, 2011. More than 500 Reform Rabbis have gathered to share plans to build and maintain communities. Highlights include sessions on interfaith dialogue, sustainability and custodianship of the Earth.

Contact Information:

Itay Engelman
Sommerfield Communications, Inc.