PART 1: INTRODUCTION
Congregation Kol Tikvah is a place where families and individuals can come to learn about their community, their history and their religion in a warm, caring, friendly environment. We represent a Congregation that respects and understands the needs of our everchanging society while perpetuating the ethical, educational and moral values of Judaism. We maintain a commitment to the State of Israel.
In order to accomplish our mission and underscore our values, Congregation Kol Tikvah (“CKT”) must be a safe and secure space. The adoption of a Congregational Ethics Code ensures a culture of safety, integrity, and accountability. As a religious community we expect the highest standards of ethical behavior and conduct.
We believe in the dignity of each individual who walks through our doors, whether a member, employee, or guest. All are created in the image of God, b’zelem Elohim, as we come together from different backgrounds, varying levels of Jewish observance, different socio-economic situations, and differing skills and abilities.
This Code of Ethics applies to lay leaders, staff, clergy, members, and nonmember visitors participating in temple worship or other synagogue events. We regard lay leaders and staff with great respect for the work they do to sustain Congregation Kol Tikvah each and every day. As such, they truly need to be Jewish role models here at CKT and in the larger community, embodying the values set forth in this Code of Ethics. Additionally, this Code applies to vendors and contractors.
No one is judged, as we treat one another with patience and respect. We agree to disagree on religious, political, and social issues that may engender strong opinions.
This Code of Ethics reflects the values of holiness, compassion, honesty, honor, and justice. It further addresses allegations of unethical behavior and how the congregation will deal with said allegations.
This is a living document, subject to review and edits as may be warranted in the future.
PART 2: CODE OF ETHICS
HOLINESS and COMPASSION (K’DUSHAH)
CKT strives to create an atmosphere that encourages holiness and compassion. Torah commands us to be holy by experiencing the joy of Judaism through study of Torah, communal worship and performing deeds of loving kindness.
We welcome all who wish to engage with our sacred community. We embrace everyone without regard to religious background, age, ability, race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, or socioeconomic status. We strive to have compassion and empathy for all members of our community by caring for and supporting others.
Torah teaches us to treat others the way we would like to be treated. As such, we ask that anyone entering CKT conduct themselves with good manners and treat others with kindness and courtesy. We encourage openness and willingness to engage with all members of our community. We are all equal in God’s eyes. Respectful discussions regarding diverse viewpoints are encouraged. In order to foster a holy and safe atmosphere we refrain from derogatory speech, talk, gossip, and slander, lashon hara.
All persons affiliated with CKT, whether staff or congregants, are to conduct themselves with the utmost honesty and integrity in every aspect of their interaction with each other and members of the larger community. This includes communicating with each individual, group and organization within and outside the Congregation in a manner that is open, honest and respectful of opposing viewpoints. All communication and conduct on behalf of CKT is to be solely for the benefit of the Temple and not for any personal gain, bias or any other considerations.
In order to create an environment of trust, confidential information and communication must be maintained appropriately. This is especially true for those individuals who are required to receive and utilize confidential information as part of their essential responsibilities.
Examples of violations of honesty include but are not limited to, misuse of confidential information, hiring personnel or contractors based on personal interests, including nepotism, and actual or perceived conflicts of interest. Additionally, lack of transparency in complying with established policies and procedures, improper use of Temple funds, engaging in personal attacks against members, employees or external members of the community and infringement on copyrighted materials are violations of honesty. These are examples and not intended to be an exhaustive list of all conduct and behavior that is contrary to the principles of the Temple.
The teachings of the Torah with respect to the treatment of each individual are ingrained in the Temple. Every person who is any way connected to or engages with CKT can be assured that they will be received with respect, compassion, integrity and justice. This means that no person shall be demeaned, harassed, intimidated, abused, subjected to any form of sexual impropriety or bullied in any manner, for any reason, including but not limited to threatened loss of position, paid or volunteer.
CKT is bound by sacred obligation to uphold financial arrangements made by authorized representatives of the Synagogue. If a change in circumstances occurs, those charged with managing synagogue finances will make appropriate adjustments.
Employment practices and related decision-making are conducted in an ethical and legal manner and in accordance with the CKT Employee Handbook. Appropriate policies and procedures are established and enforced to protect the employees of
the Congregation, such as fair employment policies, grievance reporting, and conflict resolution procedures.
PART 3: ADDRESSING ALLEGATIONS OF UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR
Congregation Kol Tikvah’s Ethics Code will be made available to all congregants, staff, and clergy. The Code will also be published on the CKT website and will be available in the synagogue office. The synagogue is committed to promptly investigating any reported violations. The following procedures delineate how allegations of unethical behavior based on the Ethics Code will be addressed.
- The synagogue president, or next highest-ranking of the Executive Board, and so on, until the first person not implicated, will appoint a congregant to chair an ad hoc Ethics Committee for receiving and addressing allegations of unethical behavior. Together they will select a minimum of three committee members, one of which will be the Executive Director, based on the following qualities: good judgment, integrity, leadership, independence and ability to handle challenging situations. Members should be able to balance a strong sense of right and wrong with an ability to see multiple sides of a situation. The Synagogue president shall be an ex-officio member of the Ethics Committee. The synagogue president, if unable to serve, shall appoint a member of the Executive Committee to serve in that capacity. Members of the Ethics Committee must recuse themselves if an allegation pertains to them, or to any individual with whom they have a close relationship.
- An allegation of unethical behavior shall be directed to the synagogue president, Rabbi, or Ethics Committee Chair, unless that person is directly or indirectly the subject of the allegation. To initiate an Ethics Committee process, the person who received the allegation will share the information with the other members.
- If the alleged ethics violator is a member of or affiliated with the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), American Conference of Cantors (ACC), Association of Reform Jewish Educators (ARJE), National Association for Temple Administration (NATA), Hebrew Union College (HUC) or Union for Reform Judaism (URJ), the Ethics Committee must consult with the Ethics Committee Chair of that organization, to coordinate the congregation’s process with that of the professional organization, balancing the needs of the person allegedly harmed, the congregation and those of the professional body.
- When an allegation of unethical behavior is made to the Ethics Committee Chair, the Chair will decide with the synagogue president whether they should consult independent legal counsel representing the synagogue.
- Where an allegation raises the possibility of imminent and substantial harm to the person(s) of concern, legal obligations take precedence and supersede any procedures otherwise delineated by this Code. Any allegations of child abuse must immediately be reported to the proper legal authorities.
- The Ethics Committee will decide on a process that includes information gathering, deliberation, and resolution based on the particularities of each allegation that is received. All efforts will be made to resolve matters as promptly as possible.
- Everyone involved in an Ethics Committee process is expected to comply with all Ethics Committee requests to assist in information gathering. All members and staff are expected to cooperate with any requests to assist in an investigation. Failure to do so is itself an ethical violation and may lead to sanctions as the Ethics Committee may deem appropriate, subject to review by the Board upon request of the person sanctioned.
- All steps, from an initial allegation of unethical conduct to ultimate resolution, will be documented in writing by the Ethics Committee.
- Confidentiality will be maintained throughout any Ethics Committee process to the extent practicable, consistent with thorough assessment and resolution of the matter, and as legally required.
- Harassment or taking adverse action affecting the employment or volunteer status of anyone who makes a good faith report of unethical conduct under the Code is itself unethical conduct and violates the Code. Good faith reporters and participants in any part of the complaint and investigation process should be assured that no form of retaliation will ensue as a result of their report/participation.
- Ethics Committee processes will balance the Jewish principles of judgment (din) and compassion (rachamim). All allegations will be responded to with sensitivity and compassion. Judgment will be withheld pending completion of a full investigation. During information gathering and/or consideration of a resolution for an ethics violation, the committee shall bear in mind that, as sacred community, healing and repentance, teshuva, are important goals to achieve.
- While there is no time limit to making an allegation of unethical behavior, the time that has elapsed since the alleged violation will be one of many factors in the totality of circumstances considered by the Ethics Committee in weighing appropriate sanctions.
- The Ethics Committee will decide on a case-by-case basis the appropriate resolution of the issues.
- Any party to an allegation may request an appeal of the decision of the Ethics Committee. All appeals will be directed to and resolved by members of the Executive Board.
CONFLICT RESOLUTION/HEALING PROCESS: RESTORATIVE JUSTICE
The central focus of Restorative Justice should be the needs of the person who was harmed AND the person who caused the harm taking responsibility and making every attempt to repair said harm. Some alleged ethics violations may warrant or benefit from meetings aimed at facilitating healing of a breach between the involved individuals. This will be determined by the needs and wants of the person who was harmed and may require the involvement of professional help in the form of a therapist, restorative justice expert and/or resources from the URJ or other outside entities.