Friday, November 12, 2010

The market for rabbis

A Duke law professor who is also on his shul's hiring committee thinks that the Conservative rabbinate's efforts to shape the career paths of rabbis violates the antitrust laws. (I'm no lawyer, but religious institutions probably have some constitutional protection...)  My impression is that quite a few religious denominations similarly try to shape the labor market for clergy.

Rabbi Searches Are Tough, but Are They Illegal?

 "As a member of my synagogue’s rabbi search committee, I was deeply troubled to learn of the rules imposed by the Rabbinical Assembly, the Conservative movement’s governing rabbinical body, on rabbinic searches. The RA requires synagogues to enroll exclusively in its search process, filters the selection of candidates the congregations may interview, and prohibits candidates and congregations from finding each other directly. Any Conservative rabbi who seeks a pulpit outside the RA’s centralized process, and any congregation that interviews candidates from other movements, will be penalized.
"RA placement rules, for example, prohibit young rabbis from assuming pulpits at anything but the smallest congregations. The placement rules also prohibit congregations from extending long-term contracts to rabbis hired as “transitional” rabbis, even when those congregations and rabbis would prefer to stay together. By restricting Conservative congregations from interviewing rabbis from other movements, the rules also are designed to ward off competitive threats from independent seminaries such as Boston’s Hebrew College and denominational seminaries such as the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. These are rules aimed to achieve full employment for RA members rather than to advance Conservative Judaism.

"Although our search did not immerse us in the rules of other American denominations, it appears that the other movements employ similarly restrictive — and similarly illegal — placement systems. The Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, which mostly draws from Hebrew Union College campuses, adheres to an assignment system whereby years of pulpit experience strictly correlate with size of synagogue and salary."

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