Worth reading: on ethics in the Jewish world
February 13, 2019
Lately there's been a lot in the press about Jewish ethics systems failing -- in Jewish clergy associations, day schools, summer camps and campus contexts. My friend and colleague Rabbi David Markus has written an op-ed on this subject, calling for systemic change. Here's a taste:
...Whether alleged misconduct relates to sex, money, administration, asymmetric power or other ethics infractions, the Jewish context vastly raises the stakes. Alleged misconduct, or responses inviting fairness critique, can exacerbate emotional and spiritual damage when identity, values or faith are on the line. Ethics systems for clergy and schools teach and model ethics, so those systems especially must be above reproach.
Too many confirmed reports, however, depict Jewish ethics systems failing. Reports show whistleblowers gaslighted or shunned for seeking justice. Investigators lacking proper training commit flagrant fairness violations, even deciding matters without speaking to complainants. Confirmed offenders are sheltered to avert shame, or perhaps for career or political reasons.
Too many hurdles. Too little expertise. Too little proper support. Wrong understandings of justice and reconciliation. It’s a tribute to victims’ courage that they come forward at all... It’s time to end the damaging and sometimes dangerous practice of Jewish institutions policing their own ethics. Jewish life needs a new and functionally independent ethics regime.
Read the whole thing: Jewish ethics demands an independent path forward. Deep thanks to R' David and to the Jewish Week / Times of Israel for this essay. May the changes called for here come to pass, speedily and soon.