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REPORTING MISCONDUCT

WRN is providing this information to help everyone in our community connect with the appropriate resources. We commend and honor the strength of all survivors of harassment, abuse, and misconduct. We stand with you and offer you our support.

 

CLICK ON ANY OF THE OPTIONS BELOW TO GO DIRECTLY TO JUMP TO THAT CATEGORY OF RESOURCES.

The following information is current as of August 3rd 2021.

Resources for Reporting Misconduct In the Reform Movement

 

WRN is providing this information to help everyone in our community connect with the appropriate resources. We commend and honor the strength of all survivors of harassment, abuse, and misconduct. We stand with you and offer you our support.

 

While resurfacing difficult and even traumatic memories in order to participate in an investigation can be challenging, it can also be a critical step toward meaningful healing, and it can help build a stronger, safer future for the Jewish community. Sometimes survivors internalize society’s message that their experiences weren’t “that bad” or aren’t “egregious enough” to warrant a report. However, WRN encourages anyone who has experienced anything that felt unsafe, transgressive, or unjust to share their story- either anonymously or with attribution- with the appropriate investigative team(s) and ethics committee(s). Unfortunately, you may need to report to more than one institution. We know that this can be daunting, but it is very important, as one survivor’s story bolsters another’s and helps our entire Movement become a safer environment. 

 

In order to help you and other community members navigate the process of reporting misconduct, we have compiled the contact information for all of the investigations that are currently taking place within the Reform Movement. We will update this resource if and when we learn of new investigations or additional information is shared. 

 

We have also included the contact information for the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the American Conference of Cantors’ Ethics processes. Remember: There is no statute of limitations on ethics complaints and before you decide whether to file a complaint, you can have a confidential, supportive conversation with the chair of the Ethics Committee. Anyone with knowledge of misconduct, whether or not an alleged victim, may submit a complaint.

 

The information provided below has been gathered from the announcements provided by the organizations or from their public-facing websites. 

 

INVESTIGATIONS IN REFORM MOVEMENT PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS

 

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR):

 

On July 26th, HUC and Morgan Lewis announced that the deadline for getting in touch to share information will be August 16th (extended from the original date of August 1st). Anyone with information to share can contact the team at HUC-JIRInvestigation@morganlewis.com.

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HUC-JIR has retained Morgan Lewis and given them the following mandate:

(1) investigate complaints of sexual misconduct, harassment, or discrimination based on sex (including gender, gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation) or any other harassment or discrimination by HUC-JIR faculty, staff, and/or affiliates; (2) determine whether any past or current HUC-JIR faculty or staff member in a supervisory or leadership position engaged in or was aware of such behavior occurring at any location on any campus or at any off-site assignments or events related to HUC-JIR coursework; and, if so, (3) determine whether the responses to such complaints, if any, were appropriate.

This investigation is being led by Morgan Lewis partners Grace Speights, Sharon Masling, Martha Stolley, and Jocelyn Cuttino. On Friday, May 7th, this investigative team included the following information in their message to HUC-JIR Alumni:

“We encourage anyone who believes they may have relevant information to speak with us. If you are unsure whether you have relevant information, we encourage you to reach out to us nonetheless, as any information you have may be helpful. To contact Morgan Lewis to schedule an interview, ask any questions, or simply have a conversation, please email HUC-JIRInvestigation@morganlewis.com or HUCinvestigation@morganlewis.com. You may also reach out by telephone at (202) 739-4878 and someone on the investigation team will return your communication as quickly as possible. This email address and telephone number are accessible only by the Morgan Lewis investigation team. No one at HUC-JIR will have access to your communications with Morgan Lewis.

Your conversations with us will be held in confidence to the fullest extent possible. In reporting our findings to the Board, we will do all that we can to preserve anonymity, if requested, and we will carefully consider what information is shared, with the goal of not identifying individuals with whom we have spoken or attributing comments to specific individuals. Please note that we may be required to share information that we believe points to a violation of the law or that we have a legal obligation to disclose to the Board. If this should occur, we will discuss it with you beforehand. Otherwise, we will only report on themes that we hear during the investigation.

Please note that any form of retaliation for participating in the investigation is strictly prohibited. If at any time you feel that you or anyone you know is being discouraged from or retaliated against for participating in the investigation, you should immediately contact the Morgan Lewis investigation team at the email address or phone number above so that the issue can be addressed. Alternatively, if you are currently a student, staff member, or faculty member at HUC-JIR, you have the option to contact Amy Goldberg, HUC-JIR Compliance Officer, at agoldberg@huc.edu.


Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR):

On July 29th, CCAR announced that the deadline for getting in touch to share information is August 27th. Anyone with information to share can contact the team at at ccar@alcalaw.com.

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Excerpted from the CCAR’s May 6, 2021 message:

There is no place in society for sexual abuse. It is heartbreaking to hear of these painful experiences that nobody should ever go through. At the CCAR, we are listening, learning, and using this as an opportunity to create real change.

CCAR takes seriously the elevated role that faith-based organizations hold in peoples’ lives. We recognize our responsibility to uphold the sacred relationships and trust that our community places on CCAR rabbis, and we are committed to transparency and accountability.

The allegations surrounding Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman’s actions more than 20 years ago are deeply troubling, as are questions that have been raised about CCAR’s investigation of those circumstances. While the members of CCAR’s current senior staff were not part of the organization at that time, we embrace the responsibility of critically examining our past and responding constructively to what we learn.

We are pleased that Alcalaw, a trauma-informed, women-led law firm experienced in handling matters involving sexual misconduct, has agreed to conduct a neutral, third-party investigation into the CCAR’s ethics process. Investigations like this take time in order to be done thoroughly and accurately. Their team has already established a reporting hotline, and we encourage people to bring forth information about the CCAR’s handling of any previously filed ethics complaints. CCAR is eager to learn the results of the investigation and will use that to inform our next steps.

 If you would like to report information about the CCAR’s handling of a previously filed ethics complaint, contact Alcalaw LLP at ccar@alcalaw.com.

 

Union for Reform Judaism (URJ):

 

Excerpted from the URJ’s April 30, 2021 message:

In recent weeks, there have been several public reports of leaders in our Reform Jewish Movement who have engaged in abuse, misconduct, and sexual assault. The pain endured by the victims is heartbreaking. We hope the reports of these brave victims will empower others who have suffered in silence to come forward so that there can be both accountability and healing. We commit without hesitation that the Union for Reform Judaism (the URJ) will address all reports of misconduct appropriately and transparently, centering the survivors as we move forward.

 

At the heart of our Reform Movement is our deep commitment to shaping a more just and compassionate world. That holy work must begin with each of us and the sacred communities we love and lead. In Judaism, living ethically responsible lives means regularly taking an account of our spiritual and moral health, a practice called in Hebrew cheshbon hanefesh. We at the URJ have been and continue to be deeply committed to the sanctity of ethical accountability.

 

[T]he URJ has engaged Debevoise & Plimpton, a nationally-regarded firm that has conducted independent investigations and restorative processes in recent years for a number of leading organizations, schools and universities. Mary Beth Hogan, an expert in this area and co-chair of Debevoise’s Litigation Department, will lead the investigation. If you, or anyone you know, have information to share, please contact Ms. Hogan at URJInvestigation@debevoise.com.

 

INVESTIGATIONS AT SYNAGOGUES OR ORGANIZATIONS:

Central Synagogue:

Excerpted from Central Synagogues April 27th Message:

As our tradition teaches, we cannot shape our future if we ignore our past. We must model how a sacred community treats harmful misconduct, no matter when it happened, with integrity and transparency. We also want to fully understand the scope of the situation. If you or someone you know has something to tell us about Rabbi Zimmerman or anyone else at Central Synagogue, we ask you to please contact our independent legal team at Morgan Lewis at this dedicated email address: CentralSynagogue@morganlewis.com. The senders of any emails to Morgan Lewis will not be identified to Central Synagogue unless they explicitly give our lawyers permission to do so.

 

Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX:

Excerpted from Temple Emanu-El’s April 28th Message:

Our Board’s Executive Committee has authorized retaining an independent law firm with specialization in these matters, Arcadi Jackson LLP, to conduct an independent review of our past and present practices, to gather facts and to report them to a special committee established by our congregation’s President.

 

Most importantly, we wish to ensure that anyone who wishes to report misconduct, past or present, will feel safe in doing so. We have therefore established multiple channels for reporting, including contacting our clergy, our Executive Director, our President, our Director of Member Support, and our independent outside counsel. Not all violations of safety and dignity constitute violations of the law; our clergy and leadership are here with open doors and open hearts for any of these difficult conversations as well.

 

Contact Information for Temple Emanu-El:
Ann Marie Arcadi, Arcadi Jackson, 214.865.6537

Temple Clergy, 214.706.0000. Clergy may also be contacted at their own email addresses.

Beth Gold, Temple President

Meredith Fried, Executive Director, 214.706.0000, ext. 130

Meredith Pryzant, Director of Members Support, 214.706.0000, ext. 122

Stephen Wise Temple

Excerpted from Stephen Wise Temple’s May 19th Message:

“Recently, our Temple received a letter from the same complainant accusing Cantor Lam of engaging in a sexual relationship that abused his position as a senior Clergy member of our Temple and alleged that some of Cantor Lam’s actions took place on our campus. We were unaware of this information when we announced his retirement. 

 

Stephen Wise Temple has a zero-tolerance policy regarding behavior as described here. We have comprehensive policies and procedures in place governing unacceptable behaviors and a process for reporting any abuses. We take allegations of misconduct by a member of our Clergy very seriously, and we are disheartened by any actions that violate the sacred trust placed in our institution and our leaders.

 

As a result of the new information that has come to our attention, the Temple has retained independent outside counsel to conduct a complete, fair, and impartial investigation of these allegations and any other misconduct that may be disclosed or discovered in the process. We will also undertake a thorough review of our policies and procedures to determine whether they need to be updated and improved in any way. We have an obligation to model how a sacred community responds to misconduct, regardless of when it occurred, in a manner that is informed by our highest values and is responsive to any of you who may have experienced harm as a part of this beloved community. 

 

We wish to fully understand the scope of the matter. If you or someone you know has something to tell us about this investigation, or any other situation at Stephen Wise Temple, we ask you to reach out to our Executive Director/Chief Operating Officer Sharon Spira-Cushnir — at any time — at SSpira@WiseLA.org or 310.889.2390. As always, if you are in need of pastoral support, contact any member of our Clergy, or let us know at ClergyOffice@WiseLA.org.”

INTERNAL ETHICS PROCESSES


CCAR Ethics Committee:


For information about the CCAR’s ethics code, you can visit https://www.ccarnet.org/about-us/ccar-ethics/. If you would like to have a conversation or file a complaint, send an email to ethics@ccarnet.org

There is no statute of limitations on ethics complaints and before you decide whether to file a complaint, you can have a confidential and supportive conversation with the chair of the Ethics Committee. Anyone with knowledge of misconduct, whether or not an alleged victim, may submit a complaint.


American Conference of Cantors (ACC) Ethics Committee:


Click here to access the ACC’s ethics code. For those who would like to file a complaint, contact the chair of the ACC’s Ethics Committee by sending an email to Cantor Kari Siegel Eglash at kseglash@gmail.com.
There is no statute of limitations on ethics complaints and before you decide whether to file a complaint, you can have a confidential and supportive conversation with the chair of the Ethics Committee. Anyone with knowledge of misconduct, whether or not an alleged victim, may submit a complaint.

 

FEDERAL AGENCIES

For Students:

The U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is a federal agency with the responsibility of ensuring equal access to education through the enforcement of civil rights. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html

 

For Employees:

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in your state.