Response to Today's Article Published in the Forward

Posted on: Tuesday June 1, 2021

Dear Colleagues,

We are writing to inform you of a story that was published today in the Forward newspaper. The article describes a case that reportedly came before the Va’ad HaKavod a couple of years ago. The practice of the Rabbinical Assembly and its Va’ad HaKavod is to refrain from speaking publicly about any cases unless the Va’ad recommends a colleague for suspension or expulsion. Because of this, the RA has no comment on this specific matter. This practice reflects the complex role of the Va’ad HaKavod to protect individuals, communities, and rabbis.  

Nonetheless, as an RA, we take very seriously the issues raised in the article. Cases such as  the ones described in the article are part of the very extensive review we are already undertaking with Sacred Spaces. The questions raised are complex and we have much to learn about the processes and procedures that  keep communities and rabbis safe. We are grateful that our Va’ad HaKavod and Gender and Power Committee have partnered to take on this important work. Please know that opportunities for RA rabbis to engage in this important process is built into the revision plan.

The safety of our rabbis and the communities we serve is central to the work of the Va’ad HaKavod. Holding our rabbis to our Code of Conduct assures communities that they can trust the rabbis who are a part of our Assembly to lead thriving and healthy spiritual communities. As a first step in this process, upon the recommendation of the Va’ad HaKavod, the Executive Council approved in January the publication of the names of colleagues who have been expelled or suspended, and we are working to implement this change to our website following a careful verification of our records. We see this as a  first step towards increased transparency.

We are taught in the fourth chapter of Rambam’s Hilkhot Teshuvah that although we sound the shofar on Rosh Hashanah, we are to hear its call to examine our deeds, engage in teshuvah, and remember our Creator throughout the year. May we always hear the blast of the shofar as a wake-up call to continuously improve our sacred work of maintaining safe communities.

In Partnership,
Jacob Blumenthal, CEO
Stewart Vogel, President