About the Plan

The Rabbis and Cantors Retirement Plan (RCRP) offers ordained Jewish clergy the opportunity to receive tax-free retirement distributions as housing allowances (parsonage), in keeping with IRS regulations. Rabbis and cantors may participate regardless of Jewish denomination or movement affiliation.

Since its establishment in 2012, over 125 participants have opened a retirement account with RCRP, representing nearly $18 million in retirement assets. Our first participants have now begun to receive disbursements from their accounts through RCRP.

Our Plan participants include graduates of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, ALEPH, Hebrew Union College, Jewish Theological Seminary, Academy for Jewish Religion/California, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, Yeshiva University, and Academy for Jewish Religion (NY), as well as holders of private ordination.

Our current supporting organizations are the Alumni Association of the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, OHALAH, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, and Academy for Jewish Religion-California.

In accordance with IRS regulations for a “church plan,” the Plan is maintained by the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts (SCM), a pluralistic association of more than 100 New England congregations and communities. Participation in the Plan remains available to rabbis and cantors throughout the United States, and is NOT limited to residents of the SCM region.

In the words of SCM, “The relationship with RCRP is consistent with our mission of promoting Jewish unity and pluralism, and building community within an increasingly post-denominational eco-system.”

RCRP Directors

Cantor Paul Buch, Chair

Rabbi Robert Tabak, Vice-Chair

Rabbi Van Lanckton, Secretary

Rabbi Robert Levy, Treasurer

Dr. Jay Sage, Asst. Treasurer

Rabbi Meryl Crean

Jeremy Hockenstein

Rabbi Salem Pearce

Rabbi Hava Lynn Pell

Cantor Jeri Robins

Dr. Steven Sass

Rabbanit Alissa Thomas-Newborn

Dr. David Bernat, ex officio for Synagogue Council of Massachusetts

Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, ex officio for Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association

 

Our Relationship with Fidelity Investments

When the Plan was started in 2012, Vanguard was the only investment company with fees low enough to support a new plan such as ours which was just beginning to grow its assets. We are grateful to them for this. However, as the Plan began to grow, we came to realize that Vanguard did not specifically support 403(b)(9) “Church Plans” such as ours. We then began an intensive research process to find a provider that could meet all of our specific present needs, and provide a relationship that could grow as the Plan did. That is how we came to connect with Fidelity Investments. Fidelity not only specifically supports “Church Plans,” it is also able to ensure the proper tax and other paperwork is maintained to ensure distributions are tracked as housing allowances (when appropriate). As well, Fidelity has a dedicated team to provide support for both our participant and our administrators.

Does Fidelity provide low-cost options?

This link has the list of investments available at Fidelity.

All mutual funds have some costs for investors to cover their expenses. These percentages can vary greatly. Fidelity offers many low-cost funds. This list of close to 200 Fidelity funds available to RCRP participants includes many index mutual funds as well as a large number of actively managed funds. These expense ratios, set by Fidelity, are all subject to change.

For example: Asset Class

Fidelity fund — (expense ratio)

US equities FSTVX — (0.05%)
US bonds FSITX — (0.07%)
US inflation-linked bonds FSIYX — (0.10%)
International equities FSIVX — (0.12%)
Emerging markets equities FPMAX — (0.20%)
US Sustainability Index Fund [Socially Responsible] FENSX — (0.21%)
International Sustainability Index Fd [Socially Responsible] FNIYX — (0.30%)

Target-year index funds are now available to RCRP participants. In these funds, available for targets from 2020-2050, Fidelity divides funds between stocks and bonds based on your estimated retirement year. Note that the less-expensive funds include the word “Index.”

For example:

Fidelity Freedom® Index 2025 FQIFX — (0.15%)
Fidelity Freedom® Index 2030 Fund FXIFX — (0.15%)

What if I want to invest in a socially responsible fund?

As of our recently restructured platform for investing with Fidelity, we are now able to provide additional SRI options.

Included in Tier 2 on the Fidelity platform (“Core Funds”) are four low-cost SRI funds from Calvert funds, a well-known company in the fields of socially responsible investing and use of environmental, social impact, and governance (ESG) criteria. There is a SRI US stock (equity) fund, Calvert US Large Cap Core Responsible Index I a SRI international fund, Calvert International Responsible Index I; a SRI bond fund, Calvert Green Bond I; and a SRI balanced fund, Calvert Balanced I. Investors preferring to use social screening criteria should be able to manage their retirement accounts with good options using these four funds.

Fidelity has also begun several new ESG (environmental, social and governance) funds, with differing selection criteria, which are available through Tier 3 (“Expanded Options.”)  More information from Fidelity is available here.

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