SRE Network Responds to the Release of the Assessment of the Rabbinical Assembly’s Code of Conduct
January 18, 2024 - SRE Network (Safety, Respect, Equity) expressed support for the major steps taken by the Conservative Movement’s Rabbinical Assembly (RA) by completing and publicly sharing the assessment and recommendations of their Professional Code of Conduct and the procedures of the Va’ad HaKavod, the committee tasked with handling ethical complaints about RA member rabbis. SRE expressed deep appreciation for everyone who participated in the process, in particular those who bravely shared their experiences of harm. Unethical and abusive behavior affects individuals, families and whole communities for a lifetime, making preventing incidents from occurring and addressing inappropriate behavior and abuse when it occurs all the more important.
The Assessment, conducted by SRE partner and grantee, Sacred Spaces, was the cumulative result of surveys and interviews with over 500 rabbis and members of the public who have been part of theVa’ad HaKavod process. The report included key recommendations around professionalizing the Va’ad HaKavod and its processes, creating a trauma-informed approach to handling complaints, and a need to focus solely on ethics cases and not on administrative or membership issues. It also suggested that Code of Conduct should be updated to be more relevant to everyday interactions, reflect the tenor of times including the role of technology, provide more clarity to members about sexual misconduct and professional boundaries, and account for the diversity of Rabbinical Assembly membership.
In response to the release of this report, Interim Executive Director Shaina Wasserman stated: “This work that the RA underwent is a model for other Jewish organizations. The recommendations reflect a needed focus on updating codes of conduct, and enhancing accountability, safety, fairness, and effectiveness. These learnings have the potential to be scaled across our larger community especially with other denominations’ ethics processes.
SRE is proud to have supported this work through a grant which enabled the RA to work with Sacred Spaces. This type of work is a powerful example of how SRE’s Community Investments can support organizations’ capacity building efforts. We look forward to the implementation of the recommendations.”
SRE Network promotes Jewish workplaces and communal spaces in becoming safe, respectful, and equitable through network building, resource sharing, and community investments. As a network of over 175 Jewish organizations, we are working towards a Jewish communal landscape where people are free from abuse, engage one another with dignity, and are treated fairly. Learn more at: www.srenetwork.org.