Our History

Since its founding in 1935 by alumni of the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary of Yeshiva University and its merger, in 1942, with the rabbinic alumni of the Hebrew Theological College (Chicago, IL), the RCA has been led by outstanding rabbinic personalities, including its esteemed past presidents.  Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik zt”l was the RCA’s guiding spirit and mentor for decades, until his death in 1993.

Click here to read RCA Constitution

Products of dozens of yeshivot in Israel, America, and elsewhere, the 1000 members of the RCA serve the Jewish world in 18 countries.  Members serve as congregational rabbis; mechanchim; military, prison, and health care chaplains; community organizational professionals; academicians; kashruth, youth, outreach, and beit din professionals, and more.  Our many members living in Israel are organized as the RCA’s Israel Region.

Click here to read RCA Code of Conduct

Furthering devotion to God, His people, and His Torah, the RCA for generations has played, and today continues to play, an integral role in Jewish life around the world:

  • It provided material and spiritual support to Soviet refuseniks, was active in the United States Civil Rights movement, and fought for the legal accommodation of Shabbat observance in the United States.
  • It helped to launch OU Kosher, and fought on behalf of shechitah and more humane treatment of animals.
  • It was in the forefront of promoting mechitza usage and halachic standards in North American synagogues.
  • It fostered improved observance of halachic burial and funeral rites, and conditions in Jewish cemeteries.
  • It provides placement, career guidance, pension services, collegiality, and training to generations of rabbis and the hundreds of communities they serve.
  • Its members build and sustain Jewish schools, mikvaot, synagogues, and reliable local kashruth supervision agencies throughout the United States.
  • It provides intellectual leadership though its publication of Tradition, a Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought; Hadarom (1957-2005); and, its Sermon Manual (1943-1986).
  • The new edition of the RCA siddur, Siddur Avodat Halev, was published in 2018 and reflects the needs of a new generation of committed Orthodox Jews.  It builds upon the legacy of the familiar familiar RCA siddur, published in 1960 (de Sola Pool) and 1984 (Artscroll) editions that have been the staple of synagogues and Jewish homes for generations. Its Lifecycle Madrikh has given proper halachic guidance at innumerable weddings, funerals, and more.
  • It steadily encourages productive citizenship among Jews, champions their rights everywhere, and provides religious leadership which firmly and unconditionally supports the State of Israel.
  • It expresses to Jewish and general society the outlook of traditional Jewish law and thought regarding a wide variety of contemporary issues, including filing amicus curiae briefs in cases of significant judicial concern to the Jewish community.
  • It works closely with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), serving as its rabbinic arm.
  • It proudly hosts and works closely with the Beth Din of America (BDA) and advocates for widespread use of the joint BDA/RCA Halachic Prenuptial Agreement, which it helped to create.
  • It maintains a strong working relationship with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, the Conference of European Rabbis, and other rabbinic and Jewish communal organizations throughout the world.
  • It represents North America Orthodox Jewry in its relations with Israeli and American government officials and other bodies. Its voice at the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations is heard clearly.
  • It works together with the Catholic Church and other religious groups through the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultation (IJCIC).
  • To view the full RCA Constitution, click here.

Rabbinical Council of America Past Presidents

* = Deceased

Previous to the merger of the Hebrew Theological College Alumni with the Rabbinical Council of America in 1942, the following served as presidents of the Hebrew Theological Alumni, and are also considered to be past presidents of the Rabbinical Council of America:

  • 1928-1930     Rabbi Louis J. Lehrfield*
  • 1930-1982     Rabbi Simon G. Kramer*
  • 1932-1934     Rabbi Uri Miller*
  • 1934-1936     Rabbi Oscar Fasman*
  • 1936-1938     Rabbi Manuel Laderman*

After the merger between the Hebrew Theological College Alumni and the Rabbinical Rabbinical Council of America, the following served as presidents of the Rabbinical Council of America:

  • 1938-1940     Rabbi Herbert S. Goldstein*
  • 1940-1942     Rabbi Simcha Levy*
  • 1942-1944     Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein*
  • 1944-1946     Rabbi William Drazin*
  • 1946-1948     Rabbi Uri Miller*
  • 1948-1950     Rabbi Israel Tabak*
  • 1950-1952     Rabbi Samuel Berliant*
  • 1952-1954     Rabbi Theodore L. Adams*
  • 1954-1956     Rabbi David B. Hollander*
  • 1956-1958     Rabbi Solomon J. Shafran*
  • 1958-1960     Rabbi Emanuel Rackman*
  • 1960-1962     Rabbi Charles Weinberg*
  • 1962-1964     Rabbi Abraham Avrutick*
  • 1964-1966     Rabbi Israel Miller*
  • 1966-1968     Rabbi Pesach Levovitz*
  • 1960-1970     Rabbi Zev Segal*
  • 1970-1972     Rabbi Bernard L. Berzon*
  • 1972-1974     Rabbi Louis Bernstein*
  • 1974-1976     Rabbi Fabian Schonfeld
  • 1976-1978     Rabbi Walter S. Wurzburger*
  • 1978-1980     Rabbi Bernard Rosensweig
  • 1980-1982     Rabbi Sol Roth
  • 1982-1984     Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman
  • 1984-1986     Rabbi Louis Bernstein*
  • 1986-1988     Rabbi Milton H. Polin
  • 1988-1990     Rabbi Max N. Schreier
  • 1990-1992     Rabbi Marc D. Angel
  • 1992-1994     Rabbi Moshe Gorelik
  • 1994-1995     Rabbi Louis Bernstein*
  • 1995-1997     Rabbi Rafael G. Grossman*
  • 1997-1999     Rabbi Jacob Rubenstein*
  • 1999-2001     Rabbi Kenneth Hain
  • 2001-2003     Rabbi Heshie Billet
  • 2003-2005     Rabbi Kenneth Auman
  • 2005-2007     Rabbi Dale Polakoff
  • 2007-2009     Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg
  • 2009-2011     Rabbi Moshe Kletenik
  • 2011-2013     Rabbi Shmuel Goldin
  • 2013-2015     Rabbi Leonard Matanky
  • 2015-2017     Rabbi Shalom Baum
  • 2017-2019     Rabbi Elazar Muskin