Yesterday, a New York Times article was released called, “Michael Steinhardt, a Leader in Jewish Philanthropy, Is Accused of a Pattern of Sexual Harassment.” As members of the Reform Jewish community, fiercely committed to the fight against sexual violence, this news is jarring. The women quoted in this article are our teachers and our leaders, our friends and our community members. Unequivocally, we believe them, we stand by them, and we recommit ourselves to our sexual violence prevention work.
At NFTY Mechina in 2017, the NFTY General Board unanimously voted for a resolution to affirm our movement’s commitment to sexual violence prevention. The passage of this resolution sparked a campaign for justice across our nineteen regions: our newly-formed Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force revised the text in our Brit Kehilah (code of conduct) to include specific language about consent; graduating seniors signed pledges at their last events, promising to uphold the values of consent and respect that they had during their time in NFTY; this past April, members of our task force led our first Sexual Violence Prevention campaign, culminating in a month of sharing resources for NFTYites to use in order to take action on sexual violence prevention. In a video released as a part of this campaign, NFTYites explained why they fight against sexual violence, and each recited the same line: “Not in my movement.”
Not in our movement. Not in our faith.
We do all of this work with an explicit goal that every teen who ever engages with the Reform Movement will leave understanding that consent and respect are inherent Jewish values.
To take action on this issue, become involved with the Sexual Violence Prevention campaign this upcoming April. Look out for informative blog posts, shareable graphics, and sample programs to use in your own communities. Or for teens looking for other ways to engage with the range of issues that can lead to a culture that tolerates and even promotes harassment, we have joined with Moving Traditions to offer the Kol Koleinu feminist fellowship open to all genders where learning and action on these issues is deepened and practiced in a supportive community.
We refuse to allow sexual violence to go ignored or swept under the rug and commit to holding ourselves and our peers accountable. Sexual violence and harassment are contrary to everything that NFTY and the Reform Movement stand for and will not be accepted or ignored in our Jewish community.
NFTY North American Social Action Vice President
NFTY North American Board
Kol Koleinu Members