What is WRJ says STOP?
WRJ says STOP: An Initiative Against Sexual Harassment and Assault is an initiative from Women of Reform Judaism that addresses discrimination many of us have experienced or witnessed. From microaggressions to harassment to assault, our experience confirms that the synagogue is not necessarily a haven. Committee and board meetings are not automatically places of respect where our voices are heard, and we feel (and are) equal. Shabbat services and onegs are not free from interactions that leave us feeling violated — physically or emotionally. Perpetrators can be fellow congregants, lay leaders, staff, or clergy. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we inflict harm on others, intentionally or not. Intent matters, yes. Impact matters as well.
Where do we start?
We hope to work together to intentionally shape and maintain our congregational and communal culture and environment. This initiative and our “I Wear Teal Because...” campaign helps us meet that responsibility. We include tools and educational opportunities to start or expand these conversations, emphasizing the role and responsibility of all congregation members, lay leaders, clergy, and staff. The materials work together with the efforts already underway at the URJ and other Reform Movement partners and affiliates. Materials will be adapted over time as new policies and tools are created. The WRJ says STOP materials are designed and curated to adapt to your work, volunteer, and communal lives. For more information about this initiative, contact us at email@example.com.
And so, we start with gratitude: thank you for reviewing and using the WRJ says STOP Initiative resources and being a part of this journey. Thank you for sharing your experiences and listening to those of others. Thank you for doing this work in partnership across all aspects of congregational and communal life as we work to shift the status quo further in the direction of true equality, safety, and respect.
Let’s get started.
Praise for WRJ says STOP
"CCAR is so grateful for the important work that WRJ is taking on in the area of sexual harassment and assault. This is crucial work that none of us can do alone, and I am thrilled to have the powerful women of WRJ as partners in raising these issues and creating accountability in our Jewish spaces. 'WRJ Says Stop' is so necessary to our community and will no doubt make a significant difference."
- Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive of Central Conference of American Rabbis
A Brief History of WRJ says STOP
We are nearing the fifth anniversary of #MeToo going viral worldwide on October 15, 2017. Closer to home, WRJ launches WRJ says STOP: An Initiative Against Sexual Harassment and Assault in 2022 against the backdrop of recently concluded investigations into reports of egregious cases of sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct in three of the Reform Movement’s institutions - the umbrella Union for Reform Judaism, our rabbinic organization Central Conference for American Rabbis, and our seminary, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Insitute of Religion. As the URJ embarks on a program of Ethics Accountability, the entire Movement is engaging in intentional programs of t’shuvah (repentance), training, updated codes of ethics and conduct, and new reporting and response structures. We all bear the responsibility to bring these tools and education into our local communities and, most importantly, to be a part of ensuring that our communities, synagogues, and institutions live out our ethics and values with cultures of compassion and environments of safety for all.
WRJ 2022 Statement and Response
We are all part of the solution, in partnership with each other. In 2022, WRJ Executive Director Rabbi Marla J. Feldman reminded us, “We must not abdicate our responsibility to provide a spiritual home where everyone is safe, valued, heard, and treated with dignity and respect.” WRJ’s March 2022 statement expanded this charge into action, noting, “By educating ourselves to be informed advocates and empowered changemakers, we can help shape and preserve safer environments in our synagogues.”
Survivor Support and Report
If you are an individual who may be currently experiencing harassment or abuse:
- In the United States, call the RAINN National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE, or 800.656.4673.
- In Canada, find support and reporting information at the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres or Ending Violence Association of Canada, and in Ontario at Assaulted Women’s Helpline
- If you or someone you know is experiencing gender discrimination, including sexual harassment in the workplace in the United States, you can contact the National Women’s Law Center at nwlc.org and can report issues to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission at eeoc.gov. In Canada, contact the appropriate federal or provincial/territorial agency.
- For URJ reporting information, go to the WRJ says STOP Materials and Resources Section or to URJ Ethics Accountability