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Annual Message from the Chair: 2021 in Review

When I wrote my annual letter to you last year, I—and you—most certainly thought this year would be different regarding the pandemic. Clearly it is not.

I want to personally acknowledge the difficulties you're continuing to face, and I also want to thank the staff of YOUR RPB who worked tirelessly to make this past year as seamless as possible

Along with your senior staff led by Michael Kimmel, Chief Executive Officer; Alyce Gunn, Chief Financial Officer; Stephanie Berger, Director of Marketing and Communications; Robert Perry, Director of Participant and Employer Services; and Maria Rodriguez, Office Manager and Executive Assistant to the CEO, I'd like to recognize Vanessa Stevens, Lois Allwood, Chase Bouchie, Nicole Daniel, and Daniel Rosenblum. You can see the faces that belong to these names here.

And now on to the year in review of YOUR RPB.

2021 - More Modernization

We completed two major initiatives in 2021 that further modernized the RPB to better serve those who work in the Reform Movement.

  1. Expanded Tier 1 Investment Choices. RPB's Investment Committee along with NEPC, our investment consulting firm, conducted an in-depth review of our Tier 1 managed funds to ensure they continued to meet our goals for helping you achieve a successful retirement. As a result, we expanded the Tier 1 fund choices from three to five funds. Each fund is a well-diversified portfolio unto itself with a mix of equity and fixed income investments tailored for different risk tolerances—from more aggressive to more conservative. Please read here for complete details.
  2. Expanded eligibility rules for the RPB retirement plan. Younger plan participants may not know that the Reform Pension Board was first called the Rabbinic Pension Board—reflecting the role of those who originally participated in the plan. As our eligibility rules expanded to allow educators, executive directors, and other professionals to join, we became the Reform Pension Board. This past year, the RPB Board, as well as the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (settlors of the RPB trust), agreed that the RPB retirement plan can be offered to any employee who works at a URJ synagogue for at least 18 hours a week. RPB has come a long way from its roots as a retirement plan for Reform rabbis to the retirement plan for all those who work in the Reform Movement. We will be formally launching the expanded eligibility rules in 2022.

In addition to these important initiatives, we once again held our Annual Retirement Planning Seminar online and strived to provide you with timely service and communications. Early results from our participant satisfaction survey (thank you to those who completed the survey) show that we are meeting your expectations.

Lastly, we continue to proudly offer the Reform Jewish Values (RJV) Stock Fund, which gives participants an investing option that supports the environment, diversity, and ethical social and corporate governance practices. With the recent climate change conference and a well-known investment firm mandating that their investment selections include many of the same criteria we have in the RJV Stock Fund, I’m grateful that we added this fund to our lineup four years ago this past December.

2022 Focus

In the coming year, we will focus on providing enhanced support to your employers who manage the day-to-day tasks of providing this benefit to you. We will be working closely with the Movement’s professional organizations to keep their members (whether in the RPB plan or not) informed about RPB’s products and services and the importance of saving for retirement. We will also continue to bring retirement education opportunities to our plan participants to help you manage your retirement savings and plan for a successful retirement.

RPB Board Changes

Sue Gold, Executive Director extraordinaire at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, has retired and as a result, came off RPB's Board this past fall. Sue was the go-to person for advice and counsel from NATA, the National Association for Temple Administration. Her position on the board was filled by Eli Kornreich, Executive Director, Westchester Reform Temple. We welcome him.

Rabbi Bruce Raff is retiring from the board after decades of representing the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. While on the board, he served in multiple roles: Officer of the RPB Board, Officer of RPB's insurance subsidiary, member of RPB's Investment and Jewish Values Investing Committees, and senior member of the RPB Governance Committee. Professionally, Bruce served not only as a rabbi, but also as an educator and most recently as an executive director. Personally, Bruce has been my colleague and a dear friend. Rabbi Raff will temporally remain on the board as a non-voting member to aid in the transition of his successor, Melissa Bell.

While it has not been easy, 2021 was a year of accomplishments under exceedingly trying conditions. How did this get done? As Chair, here is the motto I live by: “Surround yourself with the best and the brightest. People who really, deeply care and share your common goal and then get out of their way!” Who are these people? Refer to paragraph three above.

Please stay safe and stay well.

L’ Shalom,

G. Leonard Teitelbaum

Chair of the Board

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