As I was reading Jewish Philanthropy recently, I saw an article titled Safe, Respectful, Equitable: Launching a New Partnership for Jewish Communal Life that caught my attention. More than 25 Jewish organizations and foundations will be working together to ensure that all workplaces and communities are safe, tolerant and fair. It is the start, they hope, of what will become a much broader effort.
I was thrilled to see that so many groups have come together to address the issues of inequities and power dynamics that exist not only in the general community but the Jewish community as well. As dismaying as this might sound, we are not immune. Thus, it is our responsibility to live to the highest ethical values of our tradition.
To this end, we need policies and procedures in place to prevent and respond effectively to discrimination, harassment and related abuses of power. We have to train and support those in our organizations to create cultures of fairness and civility. We must hold ourselves and each other accountable, as we all deserve dignity and respect.
I am proud that our national organization, Jewish Federations of North America, is a part of this group of communal partners. And I am proud to be part of a faith that is guided by the concepts of being humble, generous and caring. “Love your neighbor as you would love yourself” (Leviticus 19:18) refers to loving yourself and learning to love and accept others’ differences, for each of us is created equal. The beauty of our religion is that it is not only a practice and belief, but also a way of life. It is therefore incumbent upon us to walk the walk and talk the talk.
Let’s join the leaders of the #MeToo movement and right the wrongs we see in our workplace culture. Let's not look the other way when we see injustice. We must have a no-tolerance policy as it pertains to harassing or abusive treatment in our organizations. Let’s lead the charge in our community in creating the changes we need to see and setting the example of Tikkun Olam (repair the world).
This is particularly noteworthy at this time of year, when we as Jews “welcome the stranger” to our Passover Seder. This central Jewish value is woven throughout the Passover story. It is also an opportune time to get back to basics in our everyday lives. Our Jewish values are our roadmap: Kavod (respect) and Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh (communal responsibility) which teaches us that we must stand up for each other, especially for those who are vulnerable and cannot speak for themselves.
Let's live these values throughout our day-to-day interactions, both at home and at work. Let’s make our workplaces safe, respectable and equitable. Let's join the movement and let our voices be heard. It is our responsibility, our obligation. Chag Pesach Sameach.