The North American Commission on Rabbinical-Congregational Relations (NCRCR) - FAQs
The URJ and CCAR continue to offer the services of the NCRCR (North American Commission on Rabbinic-Congregational Relations) at no cost to URJ member congregations and CCAR rabbis. Learn more about what the NCRCR can do for you.
What is the NCRCR?
The NCRCR is a joint commission between the Union
for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR). Because
the NCRCR is a joint commission between the congregational and rabbinical arms
of the Reform Movement, it is uniquely equipped to help both URJ congregations
and their rabbis when tensions arise in a synagogue.
What is the mission of the NCRCR?
The NCRCR is dedicated to the sacred work of
strengthening congregational life by helping congregations when the
relationship between the rabbi and the congregation is challenged. The NCRCR strives to restore and preserve healthy
relationships between lay and rabbinic partners.
How does the NCRCR fulfill its mission?
The NCRCR generates written policies and guidelines
to help congregational leaders and rabbis navigate their relationship. (For example; the Guidelines for
Rabbinical-Congregational Relations and The NCRCR Guidelines for Ongoing
Mutual Review in the Synagogue.)
In the unfortunate event of a conflict, the
NCRCR is available to help URJ congregations and rabbis extend or conclude
their relationship in a sacred way.
How much does it cost to use the NCRCR?
There is no additional cost to a URJ
congregation or CCAR rabbi for accessing this benefit of URJ and CCAR
How can one access the NCRCR?
To access the resources of the NCRCR, you should first
contact Rabbi Janet Offel (JOffel@urj.org)
or Rabbi David Fine (DFine@urj.org) in
Consulting and Transition Management. Many matters are resolved before
becoming active NCRCR cases. Rabbis Offel and Fine can help
in the preliminary assessment of your situation.
Will my conversation be confidential?
NCRCR conversations and cases are subject to
strict rules of confidentiality.
What are the services provided by the NCRCR?
If the rabbi and congregation are unable to
resolve tensions on their own, there are several ways in which the NCRCR can
assist. It is not necessary for a
congregation to utilize the services in any particular order. Some services may be more appropriate than
others for any particular situation:
Offer advice and counsel during phone
conversations. Presidents, rabbis
and other lay leaders are free to call the directors of the NCRCR at any time
to seek counsel and advice.
Upon the request of both of the rabbi and the
congregation (through its president), a conciliation team consisting of two
fully trained members of the NCRCR (a lay person and a rabbi) visits with the
The team is advised in advance of the issues
presented, and the team's purpose in visiting is to listen objectively to both
of the congregation and the rabbi , endeavor to ascertain the facts, and then
to assist in generating a report from the NCRCR that will be helpful in
resolving those issues.
Each team is managed by one of the co-chairs of
the NCRCR. There are two NCRCR chairs;
one rabbi and one lay person. The
current chairs are Steven Burkett, the chief judge of Camden City Municipal
Court and Steve Klein, the rabbi emeritus of Scarsdale Synagogue Temples Tremont
and Emanu-El (SSTTE).
The NCRCR may recommend binding mediation or arbitration
pursuant to the NCRCR guidelines; both parties must agree to pursue this option
if it is recommended.