OHALAH Professional Code of Ethics
Last Amended 2014
If you believe that you may have cause to file an ethics complaint or if you have questions about making an ethics complaint, please contact Rabbi Pam Frydman, OHALAH Ethics Chair, at 415-261-3404.
As Jewish clergy, we are called to be spiritual leaders and we are expected to embody the highest ethical standards in both our professional and personal lives. It is, therefore, imperative that we conduct ourselves with honesty, morality, and integrity in all of our dealings with those whose lives we touch. We expect all of our members to make a commitment to ethical professional conduct. Failure to maintain these standards will be grounds for suspension from, or revocation of membership.
As it is the purpose of a Rabbinic Association to provide the structures that might support the spiritual growth and leadership of its members, we take upon ourselves the task, not only to lay out and articulate clearly the scope of our highest ethical standards, but also to continually explore ways that we might live up to those standards. We acknowledge the fact that in the life of our rabbinate, cantorate or rabbinic pastorate, there will be times when we are vulnerable and when we will make mistakes or fall into confusion. We therefore take it upon ourselves to develop and cultivate programs that support ethical refinement, prevent isolation of leaders and provide support for the inner work that is the foundation for awareness. One of the purposes of our chevra (Hebrew for colleagues) is to create a safe environment in which we might accept our vulnerabilities and together learn from our mistakes. In taking on that task, we ask our members to commit to ongoing professional development with regard to ethics and power and we recommend that we all cultivate relationships with spiritual advisors and chevruta (Aramaic for study partners).
B. ETHICAL GUIDELINES
1. All members shall abide by the OHALAH Code of Ethics and the ALEPH Statement of Principles, with special emphasis on creating safe environments in our synagogues, institutions, and Jewish communities ensuring the equality of men and women in all aspects of communal Jewish life. Attendees at the annual OHALAH Conference and Pre-Conference Shabbaton (refers to Sabbath gathering or Sabbath retreat) shall also abide by the OHALAH Code of Ethics. This includes clergy and their spouses, clergy students and their spouses and others invited guests.
2. All members shall be scrupulous in their financial dealings and shall be held fully accountable for all monies, other than their own private resources, over which they have access to and/or control as a rabbi, cantor, rabbinic pastor or spiritual leader, in accordance with the highest values of Jewish ethical teachings.
3. Grounds for removal from membership include: misuse of our spiritual and educational power for illicit sexual, financial, or other personal advantage; conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude; fraudulent misrepresentation of professional credentials; or failure to fulfill significant contractual obligations in the absence of mitigating circumstances.
4. Members shall conduct their interpersonal relations in accordance with the Torah’s teachings regarding kevod haberiyot, lashon hara, hasagat gevul, ladun lekhaf zechut, and teshuvah. (Hebrew for honoring all life, spreading gossip, respecting boundaries, giving another person the benefit of the doubt, and repentance, respectively.) In the clearest words, our Torah directs us: “You shall not steal; you shall not deal deceitfully or falsely with one another . . . Do not pervert justice. Do not give special consideration to the poor nor show respect to the great . . .You must love your neighbor as (you love) yourself.” [Lev. 19:11,15,18]
5. The spiritual leader-congregant relationship depends upon a mutual expectation that the relationship will remain primarily professional and pastoral. Effective spiritual leadership of necessity involves conveying empathy, connection, and warmth to congregants, which can sometimes blur clergy-congregant boundaries. We recognize the humanity of clergy and congregants, and the existence of unavoidable and difficult dilemmas in negotiating the relationship between spiritual leaders and congregants. Nonetheless, spiritual leaders are primarily responsible for establishing and preserving appropriate boundaries that ensure the integrity of the clergy-congregant relationship.
1. This document and amendments thereto shall collectively be known as the “OHALAH Ethics Code” and “this ethics code.”
2. In this ethics code, “congregation” shall include actual congregations, chavurot (Hebrew for communities that function like a congregation), schools and other educational settings, as well as organizations and institutions served professionally by a spiritual leader regardless of whether these entities are Jewish, interfaith or secular.
3. In this ethics code, “congregant” shall include actual congregants, as well as students, mentees, counselees and constituents.
4. In this ethics code, “married” also includes one in a partnered or committed relationship.
5. In this ethics code, “spiritual leader” includes rabbis, cantors, rabbinic pastors and students of these professions.
6. In the Hebrew language, most nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs have inherent grammatical gender called zachar and nekeyvah, which is commonly translated as masculine and feminine. In this ethics code, all Hebrew words, including words that appear in the grammatical masculine or the grammatical feminine are intended to include male, female and non-binary gender.
7. In this ethics code, “Standing Committee” refers to the Standing Ethics Committee appointed by the Board of Directors of OHALAH in accordance with the OHALAH Bylaws.
8. In this ethics code, “Parsha Committee” refers to a subcommittee that is subordinated to the Standing Committee appointed in accordance with paragraph E.12. of this ethics code. (“Parsha” is Hebrew for portion and refers to the portion of scripture read during a given week of the year.)
9. In this ethics code, all references to OHALAH includes the association of rabbis, the association of cantors and the Rabbinic Pastors Association.”
D. TRUST, BREACHES OF TRUST, AND ETHICAL BOUNDARIES
1. FINANCIAL AND OTHER BREACHES OF TRUST
(a) It is unethical to use funds of the congregation for personal financial gain without the knowledge and consent of the congregation. It is unethical to exploit a spiritual leader’s relationship with a congregant, staff member, or colleague for personal financial gain.
(b) It is unethical to misrepresent one’s professional education, experience, or credentials.
(c) As suggested by Sections A and B, there can be other breaches of professional trust that are not enumerated in this ethics code.
2. PROFESSIONAL BOUNDARIES
(a) Spiritual leaders’ behavior toward congregants that is intended to communicate caring can, on occasion, be misinterpreted by congregants as inappropriate blurring of clergy-congregant boundaries. Such behavior can significantly impair spiritual leader-congregant relations and should be avoided where possible. Spiritual leaders are obliged to be especially sensitive to the danger of such misperception and to avoid behavior that could reasonably be misconstrued by a congregant. In particular, spiritual leaders should be sensitive to appropriate locations and hours for meetings, as well as appropriate and inappropriate physical contact and comments.
(b) In the event that a congregant misinterprets a spiritual leader’s concern as a romantic or sexual interest, it is the spiritual leader’s responsibility to state unequivocally that such a relationship is not appropriate. In such a situation, the spiritual leader is strongly urged to seek advice from colleagues and/or other professionals.
3. PROFESSIONAL SEXUAL ETHICS
(a) Sexual Harassment. It is unethical to engage in sexual or other harassment of a congregant, staff member, colleague or other person with whom a spiritual leader deals professionally. Sexual harassment is defined as, but not limited to, deliberate or repeated seductive speech, sexual comments, gestures, physical contacts, and inappropriate visual attention such as leering. It may include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
(b) Unethical Sexual Activity. It is unethical for a spiritual leader to engage in, or attempt to engage in, sexual activity with a minor, an unwilling adult, a married or partnered congregant, or a congregant or other person whom a spiritual leader is counseling or aiding in life cycle events, conversion, or other pastoral situations. It is also unethical for a spiritual leader to engage in, or attempt to engage in, sexual activity with anyone who is similarly dependent on the spiritual leader. Such sexual relationships are unethical even if suggested or welcomed by the congregant. It is the responsibility of spiritual leaders to maintain appropriate boundaries. Sexual activity may include intimate or unwanted physical contact as well as intercourse.
(c) Single Spiritual Leaders and Congregants. Although not automatically unethical, any sexual relationship between a single spiritual leader and a single congregant is fraught with risks for both parties and may be illegal in some states, provinces and nations. These risks include ambiguities about the perceived power of the clergy, the spiritual leader’s ability to provide future pastoral care for the congregant, and the future of both parties in the congregation. A sexual relationship effectively ends the clergy-congregant or clergy-constituent relationship between the parties, and the spiritual leader is responsible in assisting the congregant/constituent in obtaining rabbinic or other spiritual leadership support elsewhere if necessary. Spiritual leaders in small or isolated communities should be especially aware that a problematic relationship may make it difficult for the congregant to stay in the congregation and may result in the congregant’s loss of a significant religious and/or spiritual connection. A sexual relationship between a single spiritual leader and a single congregant is potentially an ethical violation, and to be avoided where possible. Spiritual leaders are strongly urged to seek guidance from colleagues or other professionals before beginning such a relationship.
(d) It is unethical to engage in sexual harassment or sexual activity with an adult that is prohibited in paragraphs D.3.(a) and D.3.(b) within eighteen months of the termination of a congregational, educational, pastoral or other professional clergy relationship. With regard to paragraph D.3.(b), there must be a full termination of professional relationship to help break the power imbalance and thus allow the potential of a healthy, mutual relationship to grow. This does not mean that any relationship, after eighteen months, is automatically ethical, but that it will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Some states, provinces, nations and professional organizations prohibit relationships for longer periods following the termination of a professional relationship.
E. GENERAL ETHICS COMMITTEE PROCEDURES
1. The purpose of ethics procedures under this ethics code is to determine whether a member acted unethically in his/her professional role, and if so, what steps should be taken to respond to the situation.
2. These procedures are based on a concern with fairness and with the protection of the respondent clergy person, the complainant, the congregation, witnesses and OHALAH and its members. Respect for all parties shall be shown.
3. The Ethics Committee process and all hearings, investigations and mediation undertaken as part of the process are not criminal proceedings. They shall operate on principles of fairness, but are not bound by rules of criminal or civil courts, and not by halacha (Hebrew for Jewish religious law). They may be decided on the basis of the preponderance of evidence.
4. The confidentiality of all parties shall be preserved throughout the process unless they request otherwise, and except as specifically provided below.
5. The Chair of the Ethics Committee shall see that written records are kept at all stages of the proceedings.
6. Since the inquiry concerns the ethical and professional integrity of a spiritual leader and by implication OHALAH, proceedings shall not be vacated on the basis of a spiritual leader resigning his/her professional position, reaching a financial settlement, resigning from membership in OHALAH or having one’s membership terminated due to lack of payment of dues or previous violations of the OHALAH ethics code.
7. Independent of whether a respondent is a member of OHALAH pursuant to paragraphs B.1. or E.6., OHALAH may inform another Ethics Committee outside of OHALAH of a pending OHALAH ethics case or a resolved or closed OHALAH ethics case should it be deemed in the best interest of the public or the organization or community served by such Ethics Committee outside of OHALAH.
8. If the respondent is subject to the OHALAH Ethics Code and another professional ethics code, the provisions in this paragraph apply to the matter.
(a) The Chair of the OHALAH Ethics Committee shall, upon consultation with counsel and/or the OHALAH Ethics Committee and/or the Ethics Appeal Body, be authorized to refer the matter of such respondent to the professional ethics committee of the organization under whose code the respondent is also subject.
(b) Should the other ethics committee referred to in paragraph E.8.(a) wish to take sole jurisdiction over the matter, the OHALAH Ethics Committee may relinquish jurisdiction over the matter to that other professional ethics committee.
(c) Should the other professional ethics committee referred to in paragraph E.8.(a) wish to share jurisdiction over the matter with the OHALAH Ethics Committee, OHALAH may form a joint ethics committee to consider the complaint, investigate the matter, take up an appeal and/or oversee the recommendations or determinations rendered in the matter.
9. A member of the Standing Committee, a Parsha Committee or the Ethics Appeal Board who has a close relationship to one of the parties in an ethics matter, or other potential conflict of interest, shall recuse him/herself from the matter and not participate in the matter as a member of said Committee or Board.
10. If the respondent against whom a complaint has been brought refuses to respond or cooperate, the Ethics Committee will still proceed, bearing in mind the presumption of innocence until proven otherwise, and the other general principles in this ethics code.
11. The Chair of OHALAH’s Standing Committee is the central person to receive complaints or initiate action under this ethics code. The Chair of the Standing Committee shall, upon consultant with OHALAH’s President, designate a Vice Chair or an alternate to serve on an ongoing basis in case the Chair of the Standing Committee is unavailable, or excuses him/herself due to conflict of interest or other extenuating circumstances.
12. The Chair of the Standing Committee–or the Vice Chair if the Chair is unavailable to serve–shall serve as chair of the Ethics Committee that handles a given case, or shall appoint a member of the Standing Committee to serve in that position. The members of the Ethics Committee that handles a given case shall be appointed by the Chair of the Standing Committee in consultation with the chair of the case specific Ethics Committee in consideration of the following guidelines:
(a) The Ethics Committee that handles a specific case shall be known by the name of the Torah portion for the week that the committee convenes to handle the case. For example, we might have the “Parshat Bereishit Committee” or the “Parshat Ki Tissa Committee.” To differentiate these case specific committees from the full Standing Committee, the case specific committees shall be referred to in this ethics code as the Parsha Committee.
(b) If the respondent is a rabbi or cantor, the Parsha Committee shall consist of rabbis.
(c) If the respondent is a rabbinic pastor, the Parsha Committee shall consist of two rabbinic pastors and a rabbi. Should there be a need for more than three to serve on the committee, the remaining members may be rabbis or rabbinic pastors.
(d) If the respondent is a student, the Parsha Committee shall consist of members of the clergy.
13. The Standing Committee may receive complaints from a congregant, congregational officer, rabbinic association, cantorial association, association of rabbinic pastors or chaplains, an affected party, other layperson, or colleague. Any member of the Standing Committee may file a complaint, stating the reasonable grounds for further inquiry. In such a case, the Standing Committee member filing the complaint will be recused from the Parsha Committee, and will be recused from the Standing Committee if and when it is involved in the case in which said Standing Committee member is the complainant.
14. To be accepted for investigation, a complaint must contain specific information about the approximate dates, location, and type of alleged misconduct. It is the responsibility of the Chair of the Standing Committee to inform the complainant of the procedures and that the respondent clergy person will be informed of the substance of the complaint.
15. The Chair of the Standing Committee will assist any potential complainant in filing a complaint promptly. While there is no explicit time limit, the interests of fairness are better served when a complaint is presented within six months of an alleged violation.
16. Within two weeks of receipt of a written complaint, the Chair of the Standing Committee, after consultation with at least one other committee member, will either form a Parsha Committee and provide its members with a copy of the complaint, or inform the remaining members of the Standing Committee and provide it with a copy of the complaint. The relevant committee will join the President in deciding whether there is a sufficient cause to investigate the complaint in more detail.
17. If it is determined that the complaint merits investigation, the Chair shall appoint a Parsha Committee to conduct the investigation if the Chair has not already done so.
18. If the Parsha or Standing Committee determines that the case does not merit an investigation, the complainant shall be notified in writing.
19. In any case involving alleged abuse of a minor,
(a) The Chair of the Standing Ethics Committee shall immediately report the matter to the appropriate legal authorities. If a case has already been referred to a Parsha Committee before allegations of abuse of a minor have been presented, the Chair of the Parsha Committee shall immediately report the matter to the appropriate legal authorities. If abuse of a minor is alleged for the first time during an appeal process, Chair of the Appeal Board shall immediate report the matter to the appropriate legal authorities.
(b) The ethics investigation and/or appeal shall proceed regardless of whether the relevant criminal justice system or other legal authority takes action against the respondent.
20. Within one month of a complaint being filed that is accepted for investigation, the Parsha Committee shall inform the respondent that a complaint has been filed, and shall provide the respondent with a written copy of the complaint or a written summary of the complaint. The respondent shall have thirty days within which to provide a written response to the complaint. If the respondent fails to respond within thirty days, the investigation shall continue nevertheless.
21. These procedures are based on a concern with fairness and with the protection of the complainant, the respondent, witnesses, the congregation, and OHALAH and its members. Respect for all parties shall be shown. Parties to an ethics matter, including but not limited to the complainant, respondent, witnesses, the congregation, OHALAH and its members shall not coerce, intimidate or retaliate against any party or witness to an ethics matter.
F. PROCEDURE FOR CHAVER AND CHAVERA
1. The Chair of the Parsha Committee shall offer to assist in finding a chaver (spiritual guide, mentor and friend) for the complainant, the respondent, and the respondent’s congregation to help the person and/or institution better understand the ethics process and offer support during the process. A chaver should be a person who has training or experience in the OHALAH ethics process.
2. The chaver for the respondent may not discuss the case with any person who has a complaint against that respondent, or with any person who is a witness for such a complainant.
3. The chaver for the complainant may not discuss the case with any person who is a respondent to the complaint of ethical wrongdoing, or with any person who is a witness for such respondent.
4. A person presently serving on the Board of Directors or the Standing Committee may not serve as a chaver in an OHALAH ethics case.
5. The chaver shall not play an active role in the ethics proceedings. The chaver may not be a witness in the case and shall not speak during the taking of oral testimony of the party to whom s/he is a chaver. The chaver shall not be present during the taking of testimony of any other party to the ethics case, including the witnesses of the party to whom s/he is a chaver.
G. NOTICE OF PENDING ETHICS CASE
1. Subsequent to notifying the respondent of the complaint and providing him/her with written summary of the complaint, and prior to the gathering of testimony in the case, the Chair of the Parsha Committee shall notify the President of OHALAH of the name of the respondent and the fact that an ethics case is pending concerning the respondent.
2. In addition, if the Chair of the Standing Committee in consultation with the Chair of the Parsha Committee, believes that it is appropriate in the pending case, the Chair of the Parsha Committee or the Chair of the Standing Committee shall notify the following individuals of the name of the respondent and the fact that an ethics case is pending concerning the respondent:
(a) The congregation or institution where the respondent is employed.
(b) The Dean of the ALEPH Ordination Programs.
(c) The Chair of the ALEPH Ethics Committee.
(d) The President of the Rabbinic Pastors Association.
3. The Chair of the Standing Committee shall withhold the name of the complainant unless the complainant has already informed the individual of his/her complaint or unless the complainant authorizes the release of his/her name to these individuals. The Chair of the Standing Committee shall also withhold the names of all witnesses.
4. The Chair of the Parsha Committee or Standing Committee shall also withhold the nature of the allegations against the respondent until there is evidence that the allegations are credible, except when there are allegations of abuse of a minor or allegations that someone is in immediate danger of further abuse by the respondent.
5. The respondent shall be informed of this notification. The Ethics Chair will emphasize to all those receiving notice of the desirability of confidentiality, when appropriate.
6. Participation in an ethics case by a chaver or any other person who provides support to a party to an ethics case does not free the participant from the responsibility of confidentiality and the responsibility of following the law of the land with regard to libel, slander, and related violations of the law.
1. The Jewish Renewal Movement does not have a formal placement service or a staff person to provide assistance with clergy placement as of this writing. Members of OHALAH are invited to post public service announcements on OHALAH’s general e-mail list regarding job opportunities they believe may be of interest to fellow OHALAH members.
2. At the time that the Chair of the Ethics Committee notifies the respondent of the complaint, or at any time from then until the case is resolved, the Chair may ask the President of OHALAH to suspend the subscription of the respondent to the general e-mail list until the resolution of the ethics complaint.
3. If upon the suspension of his/her subscription, the respondent feels that s/he needs access to the OHALAH email list to avoid a sense of isolation, the respondent may enter into a written agreement with the Parsha Committee that s/he will read along on the list, but will not post to the list and will not avail him/herself of the job listings posted to the list.
4. Should the respondent violate such written agreement and post to the list, the respondent shall be suspended from OHALAH for a period of not less than three months.
5. Should the respondent violate such written agreement and apply for a job while a case is pending, regardless of whether the job is posted on the OHALAH list or is advertised in another way, or even if the job is not advertised, the respondent shall be suspended from OHALAH for a period of not less than one year.
I. INTERIM REMEDIES DURING A PENDING ETHICS CASE
1. Suspension With or Without Pay. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Chair of the Ethics Committee or the Chair’s designee, in consultation with the President of OHALAH, may recommend to the congregation temporary suspension of the respondent with pay and benefits, until the Parsha Committee can investigate the matter and make a decision as to the appropriate disposition of the matter. It is understood that suspension with pay may be of mutual benefit in a difficult situation, without prejudice to a particular outcome. For the benefit of all concerned, the Parsha Committee shall make every reasonable effort to make its decision within three months of the beginning of the paid leave.
2. Congregational Officer Leave of Absence. Depending on the nature of the complaint, the Ethics Committee Chair, or the Chair’s designee, may recommend that any complainant in a position of authority in the congregation whose work involves the respondent, such as a congregational officer, committee chair, shall take a leave of absence from such authority until the ethics matter is resolved.
3. Notwithstanding the provision of Sections I.1. and I.2., a respondent may be suspended from OHALAH on an interim basis pursuant to Section K.4.d.
J. EVIDENCE GATHERING
1. The Parsha Committee Chair will study the complaint and the respondent’s response and decide how to conduct the further investigation.
2. The Chair, in conjunction with the Committee, may waive the investigation and make a decision about how to resolve the matter if the respondent admits to the allegations in the complaint. In such a situation, the respondent may provide written character witness testimony before or during the decision making process.
3. The Chair, in conjunction with the Committee, may conduct its investigation by providing written questions to the complainant and the respondent and shall invite the complainant and respondent to each provide the written testimony of witnesses. The Chair, in conjunction with the Committee shall inform the complainant and respondent of the maximum length of such testimony, depending on the nature of the case.
4. The Chair, in conjunction with the Committee may hold a telephone hearing with the complainant and a telephone hearing with the respondent. The Committee may hold a telephone hearing with witnesses or may hold a hearing with the parties and request witness testimony in writing.
5. The Chair, in conjunction with the Committee may recommend mediation to the complainant and respondent and may authorize the parties to enter into mediation while the ethics case is pending should both parties agree to mediation.
6. The Chair, in conjunction with the Committee may hold a face to face hearing with the complainant and the respondent should the Committee determine that methods of evidence collection, described in paragraphs M.2., 3., and 4., are not sufficient to obtain necessary testimony. The face-to-face hearing shall be held at the expense of OHALAH.
7. Whenever possible, the process of evidence collection and resolution of the matter, including mediation, shall avoid bringing the complainant together with the respondent in writing, on the telephone, or in person. This applies to all paragraphs in this Section J.
8. Whichever methods of investigation are made available to the complainant shall also be made available to the respondent and vice-versa.
9. Regardless of how the investigation is conducted, if the Ethics Committee determines that any allegations of wrongdoing against the respondent are credible, the respondent shall be entitled to provide written testimony of expert witnesses either before or during the investigation or before or during the decision-making of the Parsha Committee.
10. The Parsha Committee may recommend that the respondent have one or more meetings with a mental health professional with experience in the field, chosen by the Parsha Committee for a professional assessment to be communicated to the committee, including, but not limited to interview and psychological testing. These processes shall be conducted at the expense of the respondent.
11. If a complainant and respondent enter into mediation, and if both the complainant and respondent agree that information presented or agreements made during mediation may be used in the case before the Parsha Committee, the Parsha Committee may consider such information and/or agreements at any stage of investigation, findings, determination, evaluation, treatment, supervision and mentoring.
K. TYPES OF DISCIPLINE AND TREATMENT
1. The content of psychological treatment described in Section K and referred to elsewhere in this ethics code will be confidential. There will be no reporting of the content of treatment to the Standing Committee or Parsha Committee or Appeal Board except for the treating professional informing the relevant Committee or Board of the schedule of respondent’s appointments, whether respondent has or is attending the appointments, whether respondent is engaged in the treatment process and/or working hard in the process, whether the treating professional is able to continue treating the respondent, and whether the treating professional is able to consult confidentially with a new treating professional in the event that the present treating professional is no longer able to treat the respondent for any reason whatsoever.
2. The parameters of confidentiality described in Section K.1. may be set aside under the following circumstances:
(a) If reporting of the content of treatment is required by civil law or criminal law in the venue where the respondent lives, works and/or is being treated.
(b) If, in the discretion of the Parsha Committee in consultation with the Standing Committee, or in the discretion of the Standing Committee in consultation with counsel, that there is a genuine concern for public safety that cannot be otherwise addressed.
3. Treatment providers shall not be required to report to psychological evaluators evaluating the respondent except with regard to the parameters described in Section K.1., and except to the extent that the parameters in Section K.1. are set aside in accordance with Sections K.2., 2.a. and/or 2.b.
4. The Parsha Committee may take a number of actions, including but not limited to:
(a) No Cause for Action.
(b) Advisory. This is an educational message to the respondent for an inadvertent or minor violation. It may include recommendations and/or requirements for treatment, mentoring and other spiritual, educational and/or psychological steps leading to teshuvah (Hebrew for repentance) or informing the teshuva process.
(c) Reprimand. A reprimand may include probation, and shall include treatment and/or mentoring and/or other spiritual, educational and/or psychological steps leading to teshuvah or informing the teshuva process. This action is a significant reproof or rebuke of a respondent based upon an assessment that the reprimand is adequate to ensure that the unethical or inappropriate actions will not recur and where the committee feels that the individual can continue to function as a spiritual leader. A reprimand may include probation, and shall include treatment and/or mentoring and/or other spiritual, educational and/or psychological steps leading to teshuvah or informing the teshuva process.
(d) Suspension from OHALAH. A suspension shall include probation, and shall include treatment and/or mentoring and/or other spiritual, educational and/or psychological steps leading to teshuvah or informing the teshuva process. This action is taken in a case where there is a major ethics violation, such as financial embezzlement, having sex with a congregant, having sex with a minor or the like. In such cases, there is, by definition, a cause for concern as to whether the continued functioning of the spiritual leader may be threatening to the wellbeing of the spiritual leader or others. Interim suspension may be imposed by the Parsha Committee at its discretion. Ongoing suspension shall be imposed by the Parsha Committee based upon the recommendation of an expert psychological evaluator, that a period of therapy or other treatment and/or mentoring may result in his/her future return to active work. The person under suspension may not take any active role in OHALAH. The following notification shall be given when a respondent is suspended from OHALAH:
(i) The President of OHALAH shall be notified of the suspension, and the reason for suspension and the President shall notify the members of the Board of Directors.
(ii) The President of OHALAH, or the President’s designee if the President is recused in the matter, and the Chair of the Standing Committee or the Chair’s designee if the Chair is recused in the matter, shall notify OHALAH members of the name of the respondent and the fact that the respondent is suspended from OHALAH. Information as to the nature and reason for suspension shall be provided to OHALAH members at the discretion of the Standing Committee in consultation with the Parsha Committee, the Appeal Board and OHALAH counsel based upon consideration of public safety.
(iii) The Chair of the ALEPH Ethics Committee shall be notified of the suspension and the reason for suspension.
(iv) The Dean of the ALEPH Ordination Programs shall be notified of the suspension and the reason for suspension.
(v) The spiritual leader of each ALEPH community and the Director of each ALEPH Project and Branch shall be notified of the name of the respondent and the fact that the respondent is suspended from OHALAH. Information as to the nature and reason for suspension shall be provided to such leaders and Directors at the discretion of the Standing Committee in consultation with the Parsha Committee, the Appeal Board and OHALAH counsel based upon consideration of public safety.
(vi) Other rabbinic associations, other clergy associations and other individuals and institutions shall be notified of the name of the respondent and the fact that the respondent is suspended from OHALAH if, in the opinion of the Standing Committee, in consultation with the Parsha Committee, the Appeal Board and OHALAH counsel, it is in the interest of public safety to do so. Information as to the nature and reason for suspension shall be provided to such associations, individuals or institutions at the discretion of the Standing Committee in consultation with the Parsha Committee, the Appeal Board and OHALAH counsel based upon consideration of public safety.
(i) Probation may be required in case of reprimand and will be required in case of suspension. The Standing Committee shall monitor compliance. The Ethics Committee may require financial restitution, apology, or psychological treatment (in-patient or out-patient) or limitations on employment settings as conditions of probation.
(ii) The key criterion for ending probation will be the Standing Committee’s assessment that it is reasonably confident that the violation will not recur, and that the member’s continued service as spiritual leader does not pose a threat to the well-being of the spiritual leader or others.
(iii) The length of the probation may be extended if deemed appropriate by the Standing Committee. Likewise, at any time during the probationary period the Ethics Committee may require a different action based on new information, a new understanding of previous information, non-compliance with the terms of probation or non-cooperation with the Ethics Committee.
(iv) Probation may not extend beyond three years without a review by the Ethics Committee. Probation, an extension of probation, or its conditions, may be appealed by the respondent under probation to the OHALAH Appeal Board.
f. Expulsion from OHALAH. Expulsion is subject to the recommendation of the Parsha Committee, and the approval of the Standing Committee, and upon notice to the Appeal Board. A respondent may be expelled when, in the judgment of the Standing Committee and Parsha Committee, the spiritual leader cannot continue to function as a member of OHALAH. It may also be taken based on a criminal conviction, such as a felony involving moral turpitude or serious misdemeanor involving moral turpitude in a court of law, related to a member’s functioning as a spiritual leader. The respondent spiritual leader facing expulsion shall have the right to present testimony, including character witness testimony to the Standing Committee, and shall have the right, pursuant to paragraph L.1. to appeal the determination to the Appeal Board. Expulsion from the organization will be communicated as follows:
(i) The President of OHALAH, or the President’s designee if the President is recused in the matter, and the Chair of the Standing Committee or the Chair’s designee if the Chair is recused in the matter, shall notify OHALAH members of the name of the respondent and the fact that the respondent has been expelled from OHALAH. Information as to the nature and reason for expulsion shall be provided to members at the discretion of the Standing Committee in consultation with the Parsha Committee, the Appeal Board and OHALAH counsel based upon consideration of public safety.
(ii) The Chair of the ALEPH Ethics Committee shall be notified of the expulsion and the reason for expulsion.
(iii) The Dean of the ALEPH Ordination Programs shall be notified of the expulsion and the reason for expulsion.
(iv) The spiritual leader of each ALEPH community and the Director of each ALEPH Project and Branch shall be notified of the name of the respondent and the fact that the respondent is expelled from OHALAH. Information as to the nature and reason for expulsion shall be provided to members at the discretion of the Standing Committee in consultation with the Parsha Committee, the Appeal Board and OHALAH counsel based upon consideration of public safety.
(v) Other rabbinic associations, other clergy associations and other individuals and institutions shall be notified of the name of the respondent and the fact that the respondent is expelled from OHALAH if, in the opinion of the Standing Committee, in consultation with the Parsha Committee, the Appeal Board and OHALAH counsel, it is in the interest of public safety to do so. Information as to the nature and reason for expulsion shall be provided to such associations, individuals or institutions at the discretion of the Standing Committee in consultation with the Parsha Committee, the Appeal Board and OHALAH counsel based upon consideration of public safety.
5. The final decision of the Parsha Committee will be simultaneously shared with personal letters to the complainant, the respondent, and the congregational or institutional President or other officer. The Ethics Committee may inform any of these parties by telephone in advance of informing them by personal letter. Personal letters may be transmitted electronically. Notification shall be made to the complainant, respondent and congregational or institutional President or other officer before notification is given to others as set forth in this Section.
1. Any decision of the Parsha or Standing Committee or the Chair of such Committees or the President of OHALAH with regarding to a matter governed by this ethics code may be appealed by the respondent or the complainant to the OHALAH Appeal Board within thirty days of the decision. The Appeal Board will render a final decision by a majority vote within a reasonable amount of time.
2. The respondent and the Ethics Committee shall each have the right to appear in the appeal process for all appeals filed by the complainant. Appearances in an appeal process may be on paper or electronically or via conference call or any other means defined by the Appeal Board.
3. The complainant and the Ethics Committee shall each have the right to appear in the appeal process for appeals filed by the respondent concerning matters to which the complainant is privy during the ethics case and during the communication about the result of the case.
4. The Parsha Committee and/or the Standing Committee shall have the right to appear in the appeal process for appeals filed by the respondent concerning discipline, evaluation, treatment, mentoring, monitoring, education and teshuvah process of the respondent. The details of these processes shall remain confidential as to the complainant, the members of OHALAH, the ALEPH communities, Directors of ALEPH Projects and Branches and any and all others who receive notice of the ethics case except those involved in the discipline, evaluation, treatment, mentoring, monitoring, education and teshuva process of the respondent. The complainant shall not be privy to the respondent’s filing of appeals concerning such matters.
5. The Standing Ethics Committee, the Parsha Committee, the President of OHALAH and the Board of Directors of OHALAH are hereby authorized and empowered to review its previous actions and take all new actions recommended by the Appeal Board in response to an appeal, including, but not limited to continuing its investigation and revising findings, determinations, probation, treatment, supervision, monitoring and teshuvah.
M. OTHER PARAMETERS OF ETHICS CASES
1. Consultation. The President of the Board of Directors, the Chair of the Standing and the Chair of Parsha Committees, counsel for OHALAH and counsel for the Board of Directors, may seek advice, at any stage of an ethics matter, from professionals and others who have expert knowledge useful in the particular case at hand.
2. Timetable. It is the responsibility of the Parsha Committee to set a timetable for each stage of the case and to communicate the timetable to the complainant and the respondent, with an eye on providing a prompt and fair inquiry to the extent the situation allows. The Parsha Committee Chair may extend a deadline, if necessary. Any delay or change in the timetable will be communicated in writing by the Parsha Committee to all the affected parties.
3. Confidentiality. Confidentiality is crucial in matters of clergy ethics for the protection of the complainant, the respondent, the congregation or institution and OHALAH and its members. However, when it is deemed to be in the best interest of protecting the public, OHALAH, the Chair of the Standing Committee, and the Chair of the Parsha Committee may respond to inquiries about allegations regarding a specific OHALAH member. The President of OHALAH or the Chair of the Standing Committee or the Chair of the Parsha Committee may reveal:
(a) that an investigation of the alleged violation is underway;
(b) that the investigation has been resolved but is confidential; or
(c) that the member has been suspended or expelled; and/or
(d) other information as set forth in Section K.4. and its subsections, K. 5. and its subsections, and Section L of this ethics code.
N. FOLLOW-UP AND SUPPORT OF OHALAH MEMBERS AND THE PARTIES INVOLVED IN AN ETHICS PROCEEDING
1. OHALAH undertakes a particular responsibility to a rabbi, cantor, rabbinic pastor or student of these professions who is the victim of unsubstantiated rumors, and will do everything possible to provide support to such victimized spiritual leader and assist in the healing of the affected community.
2. If there is a finding of unethical behavior by such a spiritual leader, OHALAH recognizes an obligation to offer continuing concern, spiritual advice and support to the respondent, the victim, the congregation and its Board and staff both during and after the ethics proceedings.
3. In such a case, the Chair of the Standing and Parsha Committees and the President of OHALAH should consult with one another, and with the victim’s chaver on appropriate ways of offering continued contact and moral support.