WRJ Calls for Proper Ethics Policies and Procedures in Response to Reform Movement Investigations into Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Misconduct in Reform Institutions

March 8, 2022 - Following Reform Movement investigations into reports of egregious cases of sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct, Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) adopted an urgent statement calling for the implementation of proper ethics policies and procedures throughout Reform institutions. Noting that many reported incidents have taken place at the congregational level, WRJ is calling on its members to insist that Reform congregations have appropriate policies and enforcement mechanisms in place to address such behavior if it occurs in our synagogues.

In congregations where such policies exist, WRJ is encouraging its members and congregational leadership to review, assess, and ensure the implementation of ethics codes. If such a policy does not exist, WRJ is urging its members to work with congregational leaders to develop and implement an ethics policy in a timely manner.

WRJ Executive Director Rabbi Marla Feldman said, “As leaders of our congregations, we are responsible for what takes place within our orbit. We must assure that our children, youth, vulnerable members, volunteers, staff, clergy, and anyone who steps foot into our congregations or participates in our programs are protected and treated properly. We must not abdicate our responsibility to provide a spiritual home where everyone is safe, valued, heard, and treated with dignity and respect.”

WRJ Board President Sara Charney noted that “Much needs to be done to improve our ethics systems, change institutional culture, assure accountability, and reassert Reform Jewish values fully within our institutions. Only by working together with a shared commitment to changing our communal culture can we ensure that the egregious behaviors that have taken place in the past never happen again.”

Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is a network of Jewish women working together to empower women and communities worldwide through the bonds of sisterhood, spirituality, and social justice. WRJ, founded in 1913, is the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. For more information about WRJ, please visit our website at www.wrj.org