The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), founded in 1889 by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise, is the principal organization of Reform rabbis in the United States and Canada. The CCAR is the largest and oldest rabbinical organization in the world. Its current president is Lewis Kamrass.
Rabbi Hara Person is the Chief Executive.
The CCAR primarily consists of rabbis educated at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, New York City, Los Angeles, and Jerusalem. The CCAR also offers membership to those who have graduated in Europe from the Leo Baeck College in London (United Kingdom) and the Abraham Geiger College at the University of Potsdam (Germany), and others who joined the Reform movement after being ordained. Most of the last group graduated from either the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary or the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
The CCAR issues responsa, resolutions, and platforms, but in keeping with the principles of Reform Judaism, their positions are non-binding on individual rabbis or congregations. It is also the publisher of CCAR Journal, a journal of Reform Judaism published quarterly. The group also runs the CCAR Press, a large publishing house that produces Reform siddurim, machzorim, and haggadot with a mixture of Hebrew and English. The most well-known CCAR prayerbooks include Gates of Prayer, Gates of Repentance, and the recently published Mishkan T'filah.
The CCAR in 1937 wrote the Columbus Platform as an official platform of the American Reform movement. The CCAR rewrote its principles in 1976 with its Centenary Perspective and rewrote them again in the 1999 as A Statement of Principles for Reform Judaism. According to the CCAR, personal autonomy still has precedence over these platforms.
Rabbi Bernard Bamberger of Temple Shaaray Tefila on New York's Upper East Side served as president of the CCAR in 1959-61.
In 1964, the CCAR began to take an official position opposing the American war in Vietnam, and in 1972 it began to refuse to pay the federal excise tax on telephone service as a protest against that war.
In 1983, the CCAR took one of its most controversial stands and formally affirmed that a Jewish identity can be passed down through either the mother or the father, if the child is raised with a Jewish identity.
In 2003, Rabbi Janet Marder became the first female president of the CCAR; this made her the first woman to lead a major rabbinical organization and the first woman to lead any major Jewish co-ed religious organization in the United States.
Rabbi Jonathan Stein, of Temple Shaaray Tefila, served as president of the CCAR in 2011-13.