Central Conference of American Rabbis Press Assumes Stewardship of Reform Movement’s Sacred Texts

CCAR to become the primary publisher of Reform Movement sacred texts

Thursday, April 16, 2015

New York, NY – The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) announced today that the CCAR Press will assume stewardship of the Reform Movement’s sacred texts from the Union for Reform Judaism, which is closing its publishing unit. These sacred texts enhance the CCAR’s growing library of essential publications for the Jewish community. 

“It is the CCAR’s unwavering belief that the literary and spiritual treasures of the Reform Movement, created with the resources and by the scholars of our movement, must remain within the Reform Movement,” said Rabbi Steven A. Fox, Chief Executive of the CCAR. “We are deeply grateful and humble that the URJ, which has made the difficult strategic decision to close its press, has entrusted these books to us and will work with us to ensure that the Movement has strong publishing resources at its disposable for generations to come.”

The CCAR is the oldest and largest rabbinic leadership organization of the Reform Movement, with 2,000 rabbis in North America and throughout the world who lead more than 1.5 million Jews. CCAR provides national spiritual leadership for the Reform Movement, the largest denomination of Jews in America, together with the URJ, which represents Reform congregations and lay leaders, and the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

Rabbi Hara Person, Publisher of CCAR Press, noted:  “We have always valued our deep and ongoing relationship with the URJ, which reaches beyond the publishing world into our many joint activities and projects on behalf of the Reform Movement. We are thankful that we were able to come together again, during this time of transition for URJ, to find a good solution that will work for congregations, rabbis and the Movement as a whole.”

Specifically, the URJ is transferring ownership to CCAR Press of some of Reform Judaism’s most cherished and sacred texts:

  • The Torah: A Modern Commentary, edited by Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut and Rabbi Bernard J. Bamberger

  • The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, edited by Rabbi Tamara Cohn Eskenazi and Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss

  • A Torah Commentary for Our Times , edited by Rabbi Harvey Fields

  • The Haftarah Commentary, edited by Rabbi W. Gunther Plaut and Rabbi Chaim Stern 

The NFTY Bencher and URJ’s certificate program will also be transferred to CCAR. Other URJ Press titles are being sold to a different publishing house.

Rabbi Person is recognized as one of the foremost experts on Reform sacred texts, having already overseen the new Reform High Holy Day prayer book, Mishkan HaNefesh, being published this year, as well the revisions of The Torah: A Modern Commentary and the publication of the award-winning The Torah: A Women’s Commentary in her former position as Editor in Chief of URJ Books and Music.

CCAR Press is committed to continuing to offer the newly acquired titles to congregations and individuals, and will develop new ways to employ technology to make this important content even more widely available. As part of this new acquisition, CCAR is convening leading rabbis, lay leaders and publishing experts for a series of conversations about the future of Jewish publishing.

“We believe transferring these crucial sacred resources to the non-profit, mission-driven CCAR Press is the best possible outcome of this process. It will ensure that these resources remain accessible and valued by the Reform Movement,” said Denise Eger, President of the CCAR and Rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in West Hollywood. “CCAR is proud to take over as the steward of these texts for this and future generations.”

The CCAR Press, founded in the late 1890s, has served as the leading publisher of liturgy and Jewish practice resources for generations.  The transfer of the Torah commentaries will make the CCAR Press the centralized publisher for all sacred texts for Reform Jews. The CCAR Press already publishes the Reform Movement’s major prayer books for weekly worship, Passover, and the High Holidays, as well as many other texts on Jewish life and learning. 

 

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The Central Conference of American Rabbis, founded in 1889, is the oldest and largest rabbinic organization in North America. It projects a powerful voice in the religious life of the American and international Jewish communities. The CCAR is a mission-driven organization with a clear focus on strengthening the Jewish community through the rabbis who lead it.