SRE Network Inspires Positive Workplace and Communal Culture Change Through a “Return to Basics” Approach to Annual Convening
June 9, 2022
Over 300 Jewish leaders gathered virtually for the network’s annual convening featuring inspiring models and tangible tools for community leaders to create inclusive workplaces and effectively address gender-based harassment and discrimination
On June 8 & 9, 2022, SRE Network hosted its 5th annual Convening: Return to Basics. In the context of an ongoing communal reckoning around sexual harassment in Jewish workplaces and communal spaces, and the concurrent massive societal shifts around workplace culture and practice caused by the ongoing pandemic, the Great Resignation, and Great Reshuffling, over 300 SRE Network participants gathered online to learn from innovative and courageous leaders. Attendees and speakers represented Jewish nonprofit organizations, funders, and synagogues from across North America and shared tools, practices, and resources with the collective aim of supporting positive culture change and healthy and resilient workplaces.
“Returning to Basics is about grounding ourselves in what matters most—how we treat each other,” said Elana Wien, Executive Director of the SRE Network. “We are living in complex times, which is why featuring the clarity, creativity, and boldness of our convening speakers was so important. From addressing past harm to developing frameworks and tools for more effective policies and brave conversations, this year’s convening is a testament to a real hunger on the part of Jewish professionals and leaders to bring about meaningful, lasting change together for the betterment of our workplaces and community.”
Return to Basics addressed new ways to approach institutional culture in the midst of an ongoing reckoning within the Jewish communal sector over the handling of both historic and more recent cases of abuse and misconduct. “Jewish organizations need living policies to inspire essential culture shifts among teams and communities,” said panelist Dr. Keren R. McGinity, the Interfaith Specialist at the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and a Forward 50 honoree for her activism in the Jewish #MeToo movement. “We need more than a policy on a piece of paper that is never read. ”
Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, Senior Rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City, shared the story of repair work done at her synagogue in the wake of revelations related to decades-long misconduct and abuse by a former senior rabbi. “We took intentional steps to create a safe space embraced by victim-survivors and the broader community,” said Rabbi Buchdahl. “At the center of this repair work is the idea that we are all b'tzelem Elohim—made in the image of God. We were able to integrate that foundational principle into policies and communication at Central Synagogue.”
Core to the Convening was a sense of community and collaboration among Jewish leaders. “It truly takes a village to effectively do the urgent and challenging work of improving our Jewish workplaces and communal spaces,” said Lisa Eisen, SRE Network Advisory Board Chair and Co-President of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies. “This work can’t be done alone, and Return to Basics proves that there’s an energetic community in place to collectively share strategies, perspectives, and stories of courage to help inspire and energize each other.”
SRE Network’s Return to Basics focus was welcomed by a diverse and engaged group of attendees and panelists eager to take stock and recenter the basic principles of safety, respect, and equity. Over the two-day event, SRE Network demonstrated the value of inclusivity, equity, and a commitment to repair and progress that ensure the longevity and diversity of our Jewish spaces. “It is imperative to create workspaces which are safe, free from harassment and discrimination, and promote a culture where all people can thrive at work,” said Rachel Garbow Monroe, the President, and CEO of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation. “This should be true in the Jewish nonprofit sector, and all sectors, and we are grateful to SRE for leading this charge within the Jewish community.”
See the full agenda. Videos from the convening will be posted on the SRE Network website in the coming week.
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About SRE Network:
We are a Jewish network of over 150 organizations rooted in a shared commitment to safety, respect, and equity-for all. We inspire meaningful change in workplaces and communal spaces by bringing people together to address gender-based harassment, discrimination, and inequity. Our work is focused on building community, research & learning, and strategic community investments, using an intersectional lens of gender justice.