Shalom, NFTY. In the past week, a number of issues within Jewish youth groups such as NFTY have been brought under public scrutiny in an article by New Voices, namely relating to sexual harassment and assault.
First and foremost, I want to recognize the people who have been harmed by sexual harassment or assault in NFTY, and that the experiences of the brave members of our community who spoke out in the article, as well as those who did not, are valid and real.
I would also like to reaffirm NFTY’s commitment to the safety and acceptance of our community, and outline some of the work we have already done, as well as the work we will continue to do and the next steps we will be taking in order to address the very real issue of harassment and assault.
NFTY youth leaders have been working diligently to address these issues since 2017 when the NFTY General Board passed a Resolution Affirming NFTY’s Stance on Preventing Sexual Violence. This resolution included adding language about consent to our NFTY B’rit Kehillah (code of conduct), programming on sexual violence prevention, and a pledge for our seniors to sign upon graduation from NFTY to continue to work to end sexual violence. We are finalizing an addendum to our Brit Kehillah addressing consent and hook-up culture. In the Fall, we will hold a professional sexual harassment training session for all NFTY Regional Board leaders and any participants who would like to attend.
Additionally, we are working on a form for anonymous reporting of sexual harassment or assault. We will follow up with more details on this form and the process of reporting soon.
I would like to once again emphasize the importance of this issue, and tell you that NFTY will not sit idly by and allow the problem to continue. We will take every step within our power to assure the safety, inclusion, and comfort of every NFTYite. There is still work to be done, but we are already making great strides.
As we listen to and believe those who have been hurt already, we commit ourselves to preventing others from being harmed by sexual harassment and assault, and to changing culture that has tolerated behavior that is contrary to our most basic Jewish values. We will continue to update you, and in the meantime, any questions or concerns, or feedback on what I have outlined here can be directed to me at email@example.com or Lynne Butner, NFTY Director of Engagement at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, and I look forward to seeing you all in the Fall.
Lev Mosbacher (he/him), NFTY President