Archive: July 2023

Prayer for Weighty Discussion

This prayer for humility reminds us that it is not our own moral superiority or wisdom that helps us reach difficult conclusions. We do not rejoice in the stumbling of our friends or colleagues nor in proclaiming something impure. Instead, we pray to God to guide us and to help us remember why we do Continue Reading »

Prayer Acknowledging our Wrongdoings in Repentance

This alternate version of Al Chet (For the Sin), traditionally read during Yom Kippur, allows us to reflect on our possible complicity in abuses of power within our own communities. Reflecting on how we may have been willfully ignorant to abuse as individuals and as a community enables moving forward with more honesty and humility.

The Responsibilities of Bystanders: The Power and Risks of Rebuke

In this piece, the authors explore the commandment of tokhecha, or rebuke– including considerations from the original biblical context and its discussion in classical rabbinic text that lay out why and how rebuke might be offered.

The Moral and Personal Costs of Abuse

This piece explores how some principles of classical Jewish law, traditionally applied to physical assault or injury, can illuminate the gravity of child sexual abuse, sexual and gender-based harassment, and the multiple forms of harm that they can cause. The Mishnah’s teachings on the damages suffered by those who have been injured by others highlight Continue Reading »

The Imperative to “Pursue Justice” and Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse

Deuteronomy 16:20 states “Justice, justice you shall pursue!”—a clarion call to craft a better world. In this piece, the author considers how Jewish readings of this verse can help us confront the injustices that might be hiding within our Jewish institutions and communities.

Sexual Trauma and Jewish Spirituality and Religious Life

Reflecting on the extensive literature on the spiritual and religious impact of sexual trauma on Christian survivors, the author draws conclusions that are applicable to Jewish survivors of such abuse and invites members and leaders in the Jewish community to think widely and specifically about the many ways that Jewish life and community can serve Continue Reading »

Pikuach Nefesh and Sexual Abuse

Asher Lovy is the director of ZA’AKAH. He is a survivor and has been an advocate for survivors of child sexual abuse since 2012.

Vayikra as a Model for Transparent Communal Governance

The authors offer this as a resource to stimulate organizational and institutional conversations around power, policies, and transparency.

Solving This Together: Expanding the Principles of Yichud to Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment and Abuse

The authors propose a rethinking and expansion of the traditional concept in Jewish law of yichud, suggesting ways that setting norms in which two adults meet alone in workplace contexts that are “observable and interruptible” can protect people of all genders and at all levels of power, and prevent the conditions under which sexual harassment Continue Reading »

Safety and the Creation of Sacred Spaces: Ancient Models and Contemporary Takeaways

In this article, the authors present archeological perspectives on sacred spaces and how they relate to privacy, authority, and abuses of power. They introduce us to various designs of space, and ask us to consider how physical structures can shape experience, convey values, and enhance safety.

Popularity, Charisma, and the Teaching Profession

In this piece, the author draws on Jewish teachings and educational theory to argue for prioritizing careful and skillful teaching, ethics, and integrity — not charisma — when hiring, guiding, and evaluating teachers.

Must Power Corrupt? Judah, David, and the Bible’s Model Policies for Safeguarding the Public

This series of text studies focus on abuses of power in the biblical stories of Judah and David. Commentary and questions for discussion invite readers to reflect on why, even with the best of intentions, organizations so often fail to prevent or stop abuses of power by communal leaders. Discussing these biblical examples provides a Continue Reading »