CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. CLAL was founded in 1974, originally as the National Jewish Conference (and later Resource) Center, by Rabbi
, and Rabbi Steven Shaw. In 1983 the Institute for Jewish Experience, founded by Rabbi
, merged with CLAL.
The name CLAL (the word means "principle," totality," "community," and "collectivity") is part of the foundation expression "Clal Yisrael" – "the community (or society) of Israel" – referring to the entire, indivisible Jewish community, and alludes to the various aims of the Center. Among CLAL's major goals is that of Jewish-Jewish dialogue and intercommunication with respect between the trends in contemporary Judaism, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist, conducted in a spirit of pluralism. Rabbi Irving Greenberg headed CLAL until he left to devote full time to the Jewish life network. Under its current president, Rabbi Irwin Kula, CLAL has reshaped its mission – that of "re-imagining the Jewish future" – to meet the changing needs of a community in an era of Jewish success and affluence.
CLAL conducts programs geared to the training of knowledgeable Jewish leaders through the teaching of Jewish history and source materials, to the strengthening of Jewish unity, to achieving a meaningful appreciation of Jewish culture and religion, and to the preparation of well-equipped, informed individuals – especially with leadership potential – who can meet the challenges of the modern era with authentic Jewish responses. Increased commitment to the Jewish people and community is consciously striven for, particularly among those of little Jewish background or experience. Programs conducted by CLAL include leadership education, directed toward Jewish organizational leadership. Originally conceived of as "Shamor," the program involves learning and pluralistic religious experiences as well as the development of community leadership, generally conducted in coordination with local Jewish federations or other local Jewish communal agencies; rabbinic programs, which include a half-year rabbinic intern program for rabbinical students, and annual rabbinic retreats for rabbis with up to five years of experience. Any rabbi who has been through CLAL's rabbinic programs is a member of "Chevra," which meets to learn and to examine diverse issues facing the Jewish community; teaching Jewish content and "Jewish vision" to individuals – not necessarily Jewish – in leadership positions; and counseling synagogues. In the Jewish public-affairs arena, CLAL's Jewish Public Forum is a Web-based publication that enables exchanges of views on a range of issues. CLAL has over the years published monographs on topics such as philanthropy, pluralism, the Jewish community, and ethics. It has regularly convened conferences; particularly noteworthy in this regard was the first international conference (1979) on children of Holocaust survivors, which generated a "Second-Generation" movement. This conference was a function of "Zachor," the Holocaust Research Center, a CLAL initiative whose aim was to commemorate and examine
the basic challenges inherent within the Holocaust. "Zachor" was founded just months before the establishment of the President's Commission on the Holocaust, of which Elie Wiesel became chairman, Irving Greenberg became director, and
, who was at Zachor, his deputy. Thus it was deeply involved in the establishment of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, and its mission was ultimately incorporated into the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
CLAL's headquarters are in New York. CLAL's budget, which in 2005 was $4 million (unchanged in some years), derives from fees-for-service from local federations and synagogues, and from foundation grants. A major outlet for CLAL's work, the Jewish federation system, has diminished in recent years (50 contracts in 2000, 30 in 2005) as more federations have taken on the tasks of providing "in-house" Jewish education and training services. CLAL works with a full-time faculty of 12 and with a number of associates.