CLAL Rabbinic Community On Line
CLAL PrinciplesIn Hebrew the word "clal" has at least two meanings. The first is a community or society joined together in common purpose, as in clal Yisrael. The second meaning is "rule" or "principle." When the rabbis look for the clal gadol, they are seeking the most fundamental principle in Torah.
For the past twenty-five years, CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership has embraced both meanings of the word.
Under the leadership of Founding President Rabbi Irving Greenberg, CLAL developed a vision for community-building based on the principles of pluralism, learning for leadership, and confrontation with the vast historical transformations facing Jews in the late 20th century. In its first two decades, CLAL was instrumental in establishing the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and pressing the issue of pluralism and unity onto the national Jewish agenda. CLALs stellar faculty gave lay leaders the access to the Jewish past that is helping them reimagine the Jewish future.
As CLAL enters its second quarter century, our founding principles remain in place, but continue to evolve as CLAL responds to new realities:
Pluralism and Unity. CLAL is the standard-bearer for a vision of Jewish life that celebrates the uniqueness of individual Jews, the authenticity of and need for a variety of expressions of Judaism, and the unity of the Jewish people. We dare to ask rabbis and professionals to regard pluralism neither as a surrender nor as a luxury, but as a religious mandate reflecting the Infinite. Pluralism is an imperative if North American Jewry is to survive and an opportunity for it to flourish.
Already in place, at CLALs initiative, are models for pluralism in action, such as retreats and internships that bring together rabbis from all denominations. CLAL has imagined and helped implement a Community Advisory Council that allows one communitys rabbis, professionals and lay leaders, from all streams and ideologies, to plan for that communitys future, without denominational and ideological conflict.
Freedom, Democracy and Power. The Jewish encounter with America, and with modernity itself, forever transformed traditional patterns of authority. Today individuals chart their own spiritual and ethical courses; rabbis and other communal leaders are often valued for their wisdom and guidance, but are seldom followed unquestioningly. With this autonomy, individuals gain the power to conceive new ways to express Jewish creativity and belongingness. Yet they also acquire the obligation to wield that power with knowledge and responsibility.
Freedom and power have also given many Jews the opportunity to be highly successful and to distance themselves from the Jewish community. It becomes incumbent upon the community to find new ways of thinking and teaching about Judaism to reach these influential Jewish Americans.
CLAL has pioneered work in over 100 cities nationwide, helping this Jewish vanguard to see the possibilities for applying Jewish teachings to their communal responsibilities. At the heart of CLALs classes, seminars, and retreats is a mission to transform committed individuals into knowledgeable, effective Jewish leaders.
Possibilities for Holiness. Judaism is not a monologue. It is a multi-sided conversation taking place among ever-changing constellations of speakers and sources. It is through these encounters with other people, rituals, texts and everyday experience that individuals develop richer, more integrated Jewish identities and connect to Jewish life and its institutions.
These sacred conversations also help spawn new ideas, new norms, new associations. "Kedoshim tihiyu," says the Torah, "you shall continually increase the holiness in your life" [Leviticus 19:2]. In a world consumed by secular, and even profane, pursuits, how do we elevate the ordinary aspects of life towards the sacred (kedusha)?
In our teachings and publications, we seek to transform the activities in which most American Jews spend the majority of their time into behavior and rituals that are experienced as profoundly Jewish or sacred. The goal is to help individuals to become "observant" JewsJews who observe the holiness inherent in all they do.
CLAL is able to carry out this mission thanks to a nationally and internationally celebrated faculty; a dedicated lay leadership; a library of resources unmatched for its creativity, relevance, and fluency in both tradition and modernity; and even a presence on the burgeoning World Wide Web.
At 25, CLAL is an institution guided by a founding vision for building Jewish community and by principles that will allow it to respond to a future filled with unknown challenges and unlimited possibilities.
To learn more about CLAL's mission and the vision that informs this site, click on the following links: CLAL's MISSION CLAL's HISTORY
To learn more about the various facets of CLAL's work click below to access CLAL's main website: CLAL HOME.
Copyright c. CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, 1999-2003