Central Conference of American Rabbis Code of Ethics
Adopted in convention assembled, June, 1991, and as amended in 1993, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, June 9, 2022, December 8, 2022.
As rabbis, we are expected to abide by the highest moral values of our Jewish tradition: personal conscience and professional integrity, honorable social relationships, and the virtues of family life. As teachers and role models, we are called upon to exemplify the ideals we proclaim. Should we fail, we need to do t’shuvah, ask forgiveness, avoid repetition, and make restitution whenever possible.
Therefore, in keeping with the high traditions of the rabbinate, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (“CCAR”) establishes this Code of Ethics. By virtue of their membership in the CCAR, member rabbis are obligated to follow this Code and adhere to its regulations. Improprieties in any of the areas covered in the sections below will subject the rabbi to the review of the Ethics Committee (“EC”) and the discipline of its processes as warranted.
Rabbis are encouraged to consult with the Chair of the EC to better understand this Code of Ethics and its implementation.
I. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
As rabbis we must do all that is in our power to reverse the deterioration of society and to elevate standards of moral behavior. We are expected, therefore, to behave at a level worthy of emulation. This includes behavior in family, social, and financial affairs.
We recognize that the demands of rabbinic duties can sometimes conflict with familial responsibility. Valuing both, we rabbis must balance our ethical responsibility with our calling, on the one hand, and with our own family on the other. On occasion, the needs of those we serve demand our primary attention. On occasion also, we must conduct our own lives so as to prevent our primary duty to our own family from being compromised or endangered by professional duties or relationships.
As human beings, we are tempted by yetzer hara (the evil inclination), particularly in the areas of substance abuse and sexuality. However, our position as rabbis, teachers of moral standards, and models of moral behavior demands of us adherence to an exemplary moral code. We must, therefore, not engage in practices that erode or destroy our moral integrity. We are expected by others, and we expect of ourselves and each other, to be scrupulous in avoiding even the appearance of sexual misconduct, whether by taking advantage of our position with those weaker than ourselves or dependent upon us or succumbing to the temptations of willing adults. Similarly, recognizing the consequences of addiction, we have a responsibility to seek help for any need or tendency to abuse chemical substances.
Additionally, we recognize that practices such as bullying or harassing, intimidation, retaliation, and overly aggressive behavior toward another person destroy our moral integrity and are inappropriate.
The rabbi must be beyond reproach in conducting financial affairs. Financial impropriety includes but is not limited to inappropriate use of rabbis’ discretionary funds for personal or family expenses, embezzlement, non-payment of just debts, tax evasion, or any illegal monetary dealings.
- Intellectual Honesty
Rabbis will adhere to the traditional principle of b’shem omro (refraining from plagiarism) and maintaining the integrity of their own credentials.
- Rabbinic Commitment
In addition, a rabbi must live up to all commitments to officiate at specific ceremonies and/or rituals made to colleagues or lay people. If it is impossible to fulfill a stated commitment to officiate at a particular ritual, the rabbi must find a qualified substitute and discuss the change immediately with the congregant, non-congregant, or colleague involved.
II. RABBINIC RELATIONSHIPS
- The Congregational Staff
In their relationships with their congregational staff, rabbis are required to observe the ethical norms as set forth in the Guidelines for Rabbinical Congregational Relationships.
- Relationships between Rabbis within the Same Congregation
When rabbis near the conclusion of their term of service with a congregation and the congregation is seeking a successor, the incumbent rabbi shall respect the freedom of the congregation and the candidates to enter into such discussions as may lead to the choice of a successor. Candidates for a rabbinical position shall act in accordance with the guidelines established by the Rabbinical Placement Commission. Relationships between rabbis of the same congregation should reflect the highest regard for k’vod harav (respect for the rabbi). Rabbis should resolve their differences privately and amicably.
Rabbi and Assistant/Associate Rabbi and/or Rabbi-Educator
Rabbis in a congregation should treat each other as trusting colleagues, upholding each other in their work, and encouraging each other in their ideas.
- The senior rabbi should share rabbinic duties with the assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator in such ways as to enhance opportunities for growth. To the extent possible, these duties should be described during the assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator interview process, so that there will be no misunderstanding later. Should a change in status or responsibilities be desired, in a way that affects the relationship between the rabbis, the matter should be discussed fully between the colleagues and every effort made to reach a mutual accommodation. If, despite their best efforts, the colleagues are unable to resolve the matter between themselves, they should turn to the CCAR leadership or appropriate Union for Reform Judaism (“URJ”) personnel for mediation of their differences.
- Rabbis should show due regard for each other, enhance and support each other’s work and standing, and avoid any activity that would foster congregational disharmony.
- If an assistant rabbi is named associate, the senior rabbi should recognize that this advancement implies a greater sharing of responsibility while the associate should show continuing respect for the authority of the senior rabbi.
- If a new senior rabbi is engaged by the congregation during the tenure of an assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator, and the colleagues cannot arrive at an agreement concerning the scope of the assistant/associate rabbi’s and/or rabbi-educator’s duties, then the policy under which the assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator was engaged by the congregation shall be observed by the assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator during the remainder of that rabbi’s tenure with the congregation.
- Rabbis in the same congregation should keep each other informed of rabbinic services to members and non-members. Within the bounds of confidentiality, the assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator should keep the senior rabbi informed of all members who enter a counseling relationship with them.
- An assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator should be given the opportunity to take part in the decision-making process in the congregation, by serving ex officio on policy-making committees and by attending Temple Board meetings.
- An assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator should have freedom of the pulpit and the classroom, as well as regular opportunities for personal expression.
- The senior rabbi should encourage the congregation to enable the assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator to attend regional and national conferences. If a congregation requires that one rabbi always be present, the senior rabbi should consider alternate attendance at conferences with the assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator.
- Exceptions to the above Section II.B.(1) may be made by mutual consent of the senior and assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator and should be documented in an appropriate file note to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.
- Rabbi and Rabbi Emeritus/Emerita
Emotional ties between rabbi and congregation strengthen with time and continue beyond the date at which a rabbi retires. Still, each congregation requires a single rabbi who is given both the authority and the responsibility of guiding it.
- The rabbi emeritus/emerita should help the successor in the position to which the rabbi has been elected and should guide lay people to understand that when a new rabbi commences rabbinic duties, responsibility is transferred automatically and fully. The rabbi emeritus/emerita also should guide lay people to accept the new rabbi as the successor and to show the new rabbi all courtesy. The rabbi emeritus/emerita should refuse to be drawn into questions of congregational policy or into newly established relationships between the new rabbi and that rabbi’s congregants, individually or collectively.
- The successor rabbi and the rabbi emeritus/emerita have an obligation to accord each other honor and courtesy, and to maintain an adequate reciprocal flow of information and communication, thus maintaining the spirit of k’vod harav. The successor rabbi should respect the experience and work of the predecessor.
- The rabbi emeritus/emerita may sit on the pulpit at any services and at a place of honor at all significant occasions in the life of the congregation and should be so welcomed. The wishes of the emeritus/emerita to do otherwise should be respected.
- When invited to do so by the rabbi of a congregation, the rabbi emeritus/emerita may participate in conducting the synagogue service or may preach. When performing these functions, the rabbi emeritus/emerita should follow the forms of worship and ritual then prevailing, unless there is agreement otherwise.
- The rabbi emeritus/emerita may officiate at life cycle ceremonies with the agreement of the successor. In such situations, the rabbi emeritus/emerita should follow the policies set by the successor, unless they agree otherwise.
- A rabbi emeritus/emerita ought not engage in activities which interfere with the successor rabbi’s leadership of or relationship with the congregation or community.
- The incumbent rabbi has a responsibility to see to the well-being of the rabbi emeritus/emerita and spouse. This responsibility extends to a surviving spouse.
- The assistant/associate rabbi and/or rabbi-educator should respect the historic ties of the rabbi emeritus/emerita to the congregation, and rabbis emeriti should welcome their younger colleagues, sustaining them in their rabbinate and nurturing them in their work. Mutual consideration and support will enhance both positions.
- Variations of all of this Section II.B.2 may be made by mutual agreement of the rabbi and rabbi emeritus/emerita and should be documented in an appropriate file note to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.
- Relationships between Rabbis in Different Communities, Congregations or Organizations
All CCAR rabbis, including e.g., Hillel rabbis and military and civilian chaplains, regardless of their specific placement, are bound by the following provisions. The principles herein contained are applicable also in our relationships with rabbis who are not members of the CCAR and with student rabbis.
- A rabbi living in another rabbi’s community or maintaining membership in the rabbi’s congregation should not engage in activities that interfere with the incumbent rabbi’s leadership of or relationship with the community, congregation, or organization.
- A rabbi should occupy a colleague’s pulpit, officiate in the synagogue, or speak at any function of the congregation or of any auxiliary only at the invitation of the incumbent rabbi.
- A rabbi who is asked to officiate at a life cycle event should inquire whether either (or any) of the individuals are members of another congregation. A rabbi should agree to officiate for a member of another congregation only with appropriate notice to the rabbi of that congregation at the time the request is made.
- If the child of a member is an unaffiliated young adult (out of school and not a member of any congregation) and chooses a rabbi other than the family’s rabbi, the family’s rabbi should be informed by the officiating rabbi in advance of the event.
- Where, in the event of a prospective marriage, the families of the couple belong to different congregations, it is incumbent upon the officiating rabbi to inform the other rabbi.
- In other life cycle situations, where various members of the family belong to other congregations, the officiating rabbi should urge the individuals involved to notify their own rabbis of the event.
- No rabbi should offer and/or render such pastoral attentions to members of other congregations, chavurot, and other religious institutions, as might harm the relations between rabbinical colleagues, between Reform congregations, or between a rabbi and that rabbi’s congregant.
- A rabbi should neither solicit nor sanction efforts to solicit members of another congregation.
- A rabbi may not seek to employ the assistant or associate rabbi of another congregation or a member of another congregation’s staff, nor sanction such an effort, without informing the senior rabbi of that congregation.
- Public disagreements between rabbis should be stated in terms of disagreements about issues and avoid personal attack. Lashon hara (malicious gossip) is equally unacceptable.
III. CONFIDENTIALITY AND ITS LIMITS
- Obligation of Confidentiality: Within the exercise of pastoral care, the rabbi shall maintain a relationship of trust and confidentiality, holding sacred all information revealed within the provision of pastoral care.
- Limits of Confidentiality: The nature and practice of Reform Judaism and its ethical legacy mandate that our religious conscience place highest priority on the needs of those who lack the legal, mental, or physical capacity to protect themselves.2 It is therefore essential to report suspected abuse of minors and incapacitated adults, even if the civil laws of the state or province do not require the rabbi to do so or even if those same laws might allow for avoidance on grounds of clergy privilege.
However, if applicable laws prohibit a rabbi from disclosing such confidential information, the rabbi should follow such laws. If during pastoral care, an individual discloses information concerning suspected abuse of a minor child or incapacitated adult or indicating imminent danger, including physical or psychological danger, to any person, the rabbi is to take necessary steps to report such suspected abuse or danger to proper authorities or others in a position to offer protection.
- Resolution of Confidentiality Questions: When in doubt about obligations of clergy reporting and the promise of confidential communications, rabbis are encouraged to consult with the Chair of the EC to better understand these guidelines and their implementation. If there is a doubt about reporting issues or legal confidentiality in the jurisdiction where the rabbi is located, the rabbi is first urged to seek legal counsel on those issues.
IV. RABBINIC SERVICES
- The congregational rabbi is a professional spiritual leader of the congregation, which in turn assumes responsibility for support of the physical and financial needs of the rabbi and the rabbi’s family. Consequently, members of the congregation who have by their dues contributed to the rabbi’s support, have a right to rabbinic services in time of need for life cycle rites and pastoral functions, provided that performance of such services shall not be contrary to the convictions of that rabbi. Under no circumstances, therefore, should a full-time rabbi set a fee for officiating at life cycle occasions of members of that rabbi’s congregation. Rabbis serving congregations on a part-time basis may agree upon arrangements with their own congregations.
- While a rabbi, congregational or not, may have no professional obligations to the unaffiliated, if the rabbi provides services for the unaffiliated, the rabbi may reasonably expect an honorarium that is not excessive.
- Communication of Services
In making known the availability of rabbinic services, whether in a telephone directory, the press, the Internet, or other media, all communications should be in good taste and in keeping with the dignity of the rabbinate.
It is essential that the relationship of the rabbi with a prospective ger (convert) avoid any semblance of commercialism. The mitzvah to instruct prospective converts and to officiate at their ceremonies of gerut (conversion) precludes the charging of rabbinic fees.
V. GUIDELINES CONCERNING SEXUAL ETHICS AND BOUNDARIES
As rabbis, Jewish leaders, and pastoral guides, we are commanded to exemplify holiness through our teachings and our lives. We bear the greatest responsibility for ensuring that ethical and sexual boundaries are scrupulously respected in all our relationships with all persons who turn to us in trust. Sexual misconduct by rabbis is a sin against human beings; it is also a Chilul Hashem (profanation of God’s name). It is the responsibility of the CCAR to uphold the sacred calling of the rabbinate by creating just and appropriate responses to sexual misconduct.
As stated in Section I.B of this Code, “We are expected by others, and we expect of ourselves and each other, to be scrupulous in avoiding even the appearance of sexual misconduct, whether by taking advantage of our position with those weaker than ourselves or dependent upon us or succumbing to the temptations of willing adults.” As rabbis vested with real and symbolic religious authority, we have the responsibility to recognize the power differential inherent in our rabbinic roles and therefore that certain speech and conduct may be experienced as intimidating. We need to keep in mind the vulnerability of those whom we teach, counsel, and serve, particularly during or after pastoral or lifecycle counseling. It is our obligation to maintain appropriate boundaries in all situations and settings. Any personal relationship that raises doubts for the rabbi regarding its ethical propriety ought to give the rabbi serious pause and propel the rabbi at the very least to seek moral counsel from colleagues or other professionals.
Rabbis are expected to honor the sanctity and fidelity of committed relationships, their own and those of others. Any sexual activity that betrays those relationships or leads others to betray like relationships constitutes an ethical violation.
- Sexual Harassment
It is unethical for a rabbi to engage in sexual harassment.5 For the purposes of this Code, sexual harassment may involve seductive speech, sexual comments, the display of sexual content, or sexual gestures. It may also include unwelcome physical contacts, unwelcome sexual advances, or requests for sexual favors. The behaviors described above may be physical, verbal, written, or electronic.
Any such act or behavior which exploits the vulnerability of another, even if it appears to be consensual, compromises the moral integrity of the rabbi and is an ethical violation.
- Types of Sexual Harassment Violations
- Type 1 Violations: These include, but are not limited to, inappropriate sexual comments and jokes, and the inappropriate display of sexual content.
- Type 2 Violations: These include, but are not limited to, repeated unwelcome sexual advances, quid pro quo and requests for sexual favors, grooming behavior,3 and any unwelcome and improper physical contact or conduct.6
- Minimum Punishment
All sexual ethics and boundary violations are serious and constitute unacceptable rabbinic behavior. In a case of any such sexual boundary violation involving an adult, the minimum punishment shall be censure.
Any violation of this Code of Ethics in which a minor is a victim is considered to be especially egregious.
- In the case of a Type 1 violation involving the display of sexual content, the minimum punishment shall be suspension under such terms and conditions as are warranted by the EC. The minimum punishment for any other Type 1 violation shall be censure.
- In the case of a Type 2 violation, the punishment shall be expulsion.
VII. PROCEDURES FOR ASSESSING AND RESOLVING ETHICAL VIOLATIONS
As a religious organization, the CCAR and its members have adopted this Code of Ethics as a statement of our values and principles. Although some of the concerns recited in this Code may have models in the secular law, the use of such terms and the adoption of this adjudicative process is essentially religious, aiming at assisting our member rabbis to lead exemplary lives and better assuring the safety of sacred places and people.
The ethics process and procedures set forth herein and the EC’s determinations are solely ecclesiastical and are not intended and should not be used as a basis for or a defense to any cause of action, claim, damages, or any legal remedy in law or equity. Nor is the ethics process a civil, criminal, or administrative proceeding as in the secular law.
Throughout the entire process (complaint intake and the rabbi’s response, information gathering, adjudicatory process, and, if relevant, the period of T’shuvah-Rehabilitation Counseling), it is the CCAR’s goal, in conjunction with, as applicable, the URJ, Hebrew Union College-Institute of Jewish Religion (“HUC-JIR”), or such other organizations involved in the circumstances of the case, to provide support to the victims, to the rabbi and the rabbi’s family, to the staff of the rabbi’s congregation or community organization, and to the congregation or constituency itself.
The CCAR is committed to the full inclusion of all individuals in the ethics process. As part of this commitment, the CCAR will ensure that persons with disabilities are provided with reasonable accommodations. If such an accommodation is requested, please contact the chair of the Ethics Committee.
- Pursuant to Articles VI, Section 1(a) and VII, Section 1 of the CCAR By-Laws, the EC is an operating committee of the CCAR, under the ultimate authority of the CCAR Board of Trustees. The members of the EC are appointed by the President with the approval of the Board of Trustees and are submitted to the CCAR for ratification. The EC includes at least one layperson in its membership.
- Pursuant to Article V, Section 2 of the CCAR Constitution, the EC has the authority to undertake a thorough investigation when a member of the CCAR is charged with a violation of this Code or misconduct that would render a member unworthy of membership, and has such disciplinary powers as found in this Code. The duties of the Chair of the EC may be delegated to another member or members of the EC pursuant to such rules and practices as the EC may develop.
- The EC may provide for its own internal operating rules provided that they do not contradict the CCAR Constitution or By-Laws or any article of this Code. Such rules will be published on the CCAR website.
- All decisions of the EC require the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the EC members present and voting with a minimum quorum of nine (9) regular members present and voting.
- Integrity of the Ethics Process
- All persons coming before the EC will be reminded to maintain appropriate boundaries and decorum. Should a complaint be found to be manifestly untrue, the EC will follow the procedures noted in Section X of this Code.
- Pursuant to Article VII, Section 2(c) of the CCAR By-Laws, a rabbi against whom and ethics charge has been filed is prohibited from any contact with any parties to the complaint that might be reasonably construed as being coercive or intimidating. Failing to abide by this guideline may constitute a failure to cooperate under subsection M of this Section of the Code.
- At the same time, in the interest of fairness, while the complaint is being processed, all other parties to the complaint, including the complainant and potential witnesses, shall desist from any contact that could inappropriately influence the outcome. In some cases, failing to abide by this guideline could be deemed to adversely affect the fairness of the process. Failing to abide by this guideline constitute a failure to cooperate under subsection M of this Section of the Code.
- Complaint Process: Filing a Complaint and Initial Inquiries
- Anyone with knowledge of misconduct, whether or not an alleged victim, may submit a complaint.
- The EC shall investigate and adjudicate complaints against CCAR members applying the substantive provisions4 of the Code in effect at the time of the filing of the complaint.
- There is no time limitation period barring a complainant from filing a complaint with the EC or preventing the EC from investigating such alleged violations. However, the age of an alleged violation and the rabbi’s conduct in the years since may be taken into account by the EC in adjudicating the alleged violation and assessing the proper sanction.
- Complaints should be sent to the Chair of the EC. The Chair of the EC, in consultation with the EC as needed, will decide in the first instance whether the complaint does not constitute a “complaint” under the Code and will not be accepted for further consideration. Examples of a concern that do not constitute a “complaint” under this Code would be one directed at a person who is not a current or living CCAR member, or where the conduct of concern does not state a violation of the substantive provisions of the Code.
- Complaints must be written and should set forth the specific details of the misconduct, including the names of the individuals involved. However, a complainant or an alleged victim may be anonymous. For example, a third-party complainant may be anonymous, or an alleged victim’s identity may remain anonymous to the rabbi. These examples are not intended to be limiting.
- If the complainant is not ready to initiate a written complaint or wishes to withhold relevant information, the EC may advise that the complaint will not be acted upon and may, in appropriate instances, ask that the person seek advice or assistance in deciding whether to go forward with the complaint.
- All appropriate URJ personnel, CCAR members, and URJ congregational presidents, HUC-JIR personnel, and organizations employing CCAR rabbis should be informed of CCAR ethics procedures and instructed in how to handle inquiries about complaints. Persons receiving a potential complaint should respond compassionately but should not seek details or make judgments as to guilt or innocence. They should inform the complainant about the procedure for making a complaint and direct that person to the Chair of the EC for further information.
- Self-report: A Rabbi may self-report an ethical violation. A self-report is treated as an admission of the facts that may constitute a violation of the Code. A self-report does not limit the ability of the EC to investigate all relevant facts and circumstances and render a decision according to this Code of Ethics.
- An individual with concerns about the conduct of a CCAR rabbi may contact the EC Chair or a designee who will advise the individual about the CCAR’s ethics process.
- A rabbi may inquire to the EC Chair or a designee concerning a matter of ethical concern. Such inquiry does not constitute a self-report and therefore does not trigger the EC’s response to a reported ethical violation.
- Withdrawal of a Complaint: Prior to the appointment of an Information Gathering Team or commencement of the information gathering process by the Ethics Committee on its own (see VII.G.1), a complainant may request that their complaint be withdrawn. The Ethics Committee will grant or deny such request and take such other actions as may be warranted.
D. Initial Response by the EC to a Complaint
- Upon acceptance of the complaint, the EC Chair or a designee will promptly respond in writing to the complainant outlining the process of investigation and adjudication.
- If the complainant is a third party, the Chair or designee will promptly send notice of the charge, providing a copy of the complaint together with information about the pending investigation, to the alleged victim(s) prior to sending notice of the charge to the rabbi. Pursuant to Section VII.C.5 of this Code, at the alleged victim’s request, their identity may be anonymous to the rabbi.
- During the ethics process, the EC has the discretion to designate alleged victims, in addition to those identified in the complaint, including the rabbi’s employer or other individuals or entities.
- The Chair or a designee will inquire whether the alleged victim(s) has or have access to adequate support services.
- Notice to the Rabbi
- The Chair will promptly send notice of the charge, providing a copy of the complaint, and outlining the process of investigation and adjudication to the rabbi. When notifying a rabbi that the EC has received a complaint, the EC Chair will indicate the provision(s) of this Code of Ethics that will be the initial focus of the EC’s examination of the matter.
- The Chair will also advise the rabbi as to support programs available from the CCAR (e.g., CCAR Rapid Response Team; CCAR Special Advisors for Member Support and Counseling; Alcoholism and Addiction Response and Recovery Support; and Director of Rabbinic Education and Support Services).
- Rabbi’s Response to Complaint: The rabbi will be instructed to respond in writing within two weeks. A copy of the rabbi’s response will be sent to the complainant and the alleged victim(s).
- Confidentiality of the Ethics Process
- Commencing with the first intake communication or inquiry, the ethics process is confidential until a resolution of the complaint has been made in accordance with this Code, except as otherwise provided immediately below. No member of the EC or CCAR employee will disseminate any information concerning a complaint and a specific ethics process to any source, including the media, except that the Director of Rabbinic Ethics or other agent designated by the Chief Executive of the CCAR may provide such information to a designated agent of the URJ or HUC-JIR so that they may collaborate to provide support services during the ethics process (see Section VII, Introduction, paragraph 3). Likewise, the complainant, alleged victim, rabbi, and witnesses will be expected to abide by the confidentiality of the Ethics process. Failure to abide by this obligation may be considered a failure to cooperate under Section VII.M of this Code.
- Exception to Confidentiality: Possibility of Imminent Harm or Danger
- In cases in which the complaint, if deemed potentially valid gives rise to a reasonable concern about the possibility of imminent harm or danger to an individual, the congregation or other entity served by the rabbi, the Chair may, after consultation with members of the EC, notify the rabbi’s supervisor or congregational president of the complaint and the pending investigation.
- In cases in which the Chair deems the rabbi to pose a risk of serious imminent harm or danger to others, the Chair, after consultation with members of the EC and CCAR Chief Executive, may notify the rabbi’s supervisor or congregational president and urge that the rabbi be removed from rabbinic functions prior to an investigation.
- Under the circumstances set forth in 2.b of this subsection, the Chair will then inform the CCAR Director of Rabbinic Career Services that a complaint is pending against a rabbi and that the Chair deems that the rabbi poses a risk of serious imminent harm or danger to others. The Chair will then direct that, pending the investigation, placement shall be suspended for that rabbi. The CCAR Director of Rabbinic Career Services will notify the rabbi in writing of such suspension and the reason for the suspension.
- Upon the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of those EC members present and voting, notice of suspension from placement pursuant to 2.c of this subsection shall be published in the CCAR website and the CCAR.
- Information Gathering Procedures
- Following receipt of the complaint and the rabbi’s response, the EC will determine whether sufficient information exists for the EC to proceed to adjudication or if additional information is needed prior to adjudication. If additional information is needed, the EC will decide to form an information gathering team (“IGT”) or undertake information gathering on its own. Prior to such determination, the EC may conduct a preliminary investigation to determine the appropriate approach under the circumstances of the particular case.
- In cases not involving use of an IGT, the EC will assess the facts and circumstances without issuing an information gathering report.
- Composition of Information Gathering Teams. An IGT shall be constituted as follows:
- In cases involving sexual misconduct, each IGT will be composed of two rabbis (one of whom is a member of the EC) and a layperson, with a chair to be appointed by the EC chair. The EC member of the team may participate in the EC’s deliberations concerning the specific case but shall not vote thereon.
- If the appointment of a member of the EC to the IGT involves geographical difficulties, a former member of the EC may be appointed by the CCAR President or this provision may be waived by the Chair of the EC with approval of a majority of the EC.
- Attention should be paid to gender balance and diversity when composing an IGT.
- The EC will establish a list of consultants, including psychotherapists with expertise in matters of sexual misconduct, and attorneys, who will be available to the IGTs.
- In cases that do not involve sexual misconduct, the use and composition of IGTs, including the appointment of the chair, will be left to the discretion of the EC.
- In cases assessed and investigated by an IGT, the following procedures govern:
- Contemporaneous with the orientation session held for the IGT, which will be led by the EC chair or a designee(s), the EC will provide to the IGT a copy of the complaint and the response, and all other relevant documents received by the EC.
- The IGT will meet separately with the complainant, the rabbi, and the alleged victim(s). To assure the completeness of its work, and at its sole discretion, the IGT may meet with additional knowledgeable persons. Prior to or after these meetings, the IGT may request information from the foregoing individuals or other parties relevant to the complaint and the response, including but not limited, to print or electronic documents, reports, telephone records, computer data, financial data and records, or any other tangible or intangible information.
- In meeting with the IGT, any person may be accompanied by no more than two other persons for support purposes only, but those persons do not participate in the meeting and may not offer advice, comment, or direction to the person or the IGT unless requested by the IGT.
- Record keeping: The IGT will maintain careful records of all meetings and materials, and log all telephone calls.
- Meetings under this Section VII.G.4 of the Code will not be recorded by any device, except as necessary to accommodate a disability. Further, the IGT and any party may take notes or have someone who is accompanying them take notes.
- The Information Gathering Team Report: As soon as possible after concluding its investigation, the IGT will issue a preliminary report in writing setting forth all pertinent information that has been gathered by the IGT, with exhibits included, and will offer the complainant, the rabbi, and any alleged victim(s) ten days for review and comment to the team.
- After receipt and consideration of any comments or concerns, the IGT shall issue its final written report to the EC.
- The process for reviewing the IGT’s report and any supporting materials is as follows:
- When the IGT has completed its report, a copy of the report will be provided to:
- The complainant, the rabbi, and the alleged victim(s), any of whom may respond in writing within two weeks, and
- The members of the EC.
- Members of the EC shall also be provided with a copy of any responses to the report.
- The EC has the discretion to ask that the IGT gather additional information it believes is important for the resolution of the complaint, which additional information will be provided in the form of a written addendum. The issuance of the addendum will follow the same procedures as set forth above in subsection 4.f and this subsection 5.
- Opportunity to Appear: Following its receipt of the IGT report, any addenda, and responses thereto, or upon the completion of the EC’s information gathering in cases not involving use of an IGT, prior to coming to a decision, the EC will afford the rabbi, and the alleged victim(s) separate opportunities to present their cases to the EC and/or to respond to questions from the EC.
- At the discretion of the EC, these sessions may be held in person or by video conference.
- These sessions will not be recorded by any device, except that any party may take notes or have someone who is accompanying them take notes. The EC will take notes of the meeting for its own use.
- Any person appearing before the EC may have with them no more than two persons for support purposes only, but those persons do not participate in the process and may not offer advice, comment, or direction to the person or the EC unless requested by the EC.
- Both the rabbi and complainant will be informed of the request by either party for this meeting with the EC.
- Issuance of a Decision
- After the EC has reviewed the IGT report, and addenda, if any, and responses thereto, and the responses and presentations, if any, of the complainant, rabbi, or alleged victim(s), the EC shall render its decision.
- Decisions of the EC should cite relevant sections of the Code of Ethics that apply to each allegation. The rationale upon which the decision is based will be clearly set forth in the decision. In each case the EC will keep a record of all aspects of the case including correspondence, pleadings, and other communications. A decision of the EC will include the date of the vote, the vote count, and the names of the EC who participated in the vote. The Chair of the EC will sign the decision.
- Once initiated, the investigation and the adjudicatory process will proceed to resolution, irrespective of the rabbi’s resigning from that rabbi’s position.
- The EC will communicate any decision (including dismissal) in writing to the complainant, the rabbi, and any alleged victim(s), including the opportunity for appeal (pursuant to subsection K of this Section VII below). The decision will be communicated to the appropriate authority at the synagogue or other organization where the rabbi is employed and where the rabbi was employed when the alleged conduct took place.
- Dismissal of a Complaint
Where in the discretion of the EC the facts and circumstances do not sustain the complaint, the EC may dismiss it in whole or in part.
- Disciplinary Action on a Complaint
The following are the possible outcomes of the adjudicatory process where the EC decides in its discretion after assessing all the facts and circumstances that discipline of a member is warranted under this Code of Ethics: 1) reprimand, 2) censure, 3) suspension, or 4) expulsion. All decisions of the EC require the affirmative vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the EC members present and voting with a minimum quorum of nine (9) regular members present and voting.
- Definition: Reprimand is a form of admonishment communicated to a rabbi regarding a lesser infraction of the Code.
- Publication: Notice of reprimand is not published in the CCAR website or the CCAR newsletter and is not provided to the CCAR Director of Rabbinic Career Services.
- Depending upon the nature of the violation, the EC may require mentoring, counseling, or other conditions, as it deems necessary.
- Failure to fulfill the conditions of reprimand: If the rabbi fails to fulfil the conditions imposed or if the process of counseling is found by the EC not to be working, the EC may modify such conditions or take such other actions as it deems appropriate.
- Definition: Censure is a form of sanction imposed for violations of the Code more serious than those giving rise to reprimand, but not sufficient to require suspension.
- An order of censure will incorporate such conditions or restrictions as the EC may deem appropriate to protect those whom we serve, to prevent recurrence of the violation, and/or to foster rehabilitation of the rabbi. Such conditions might include, but are not limited to, psychological evaluation, therapy, t’shuvah-rehabilitation counseling, and some restriction of rabbinic function.
- Publication: Notice of censure (and of any subsequent modifications to the terms of such censure) will be: (1) published in the CCAR website and the CCAR newsletter with reference, by paragraph number, to the specific provisions of this Code of Ethics that has been violated, and will set forth any restrictions on rabbinic functions; (b) sent to the CCAR Director of Rabbinic Career Services to be placed in the rabbi’s permanent file (see Section IX Additional Provisions Concerning Notification); and (c) reported to the president of the rabbi’s congregation, to the rabbi’s supervisor, or to the rabbi’s employer.
- Failure to fulfill the conditions of censure: If the rabbi fails to fulfill the conditions imposed or if the process of counseling and rehabilitation is found by the EC not to be working, the EC may, among other remedies, decide that the rabbi be further or otherwise restricted as to rabbinic functions or removed from all rabbinic functions. Notice of such further or other restrictions of rabbinic functions or removal from all rabbinic functions will be published and notice thereof will be provided in accord with the provisions of subsection c of this Section VII.
- Definition: The sanction of suspension is called for primarily in cases where the EC finds:
- A Type 1 Sexual Violation involving “visual conduct of a sexual nature” with a minor or incapacitated person as defined herein, and/or
- The rabbi’s conduct causes significant harm to the victim(s) or institutions involved, and/or
- The rabbi fails to recognize the wrongfulness of the rabbi’s actions and to take responsibility for those actions, and/or
- The rabbi has been censured and refuses to meet with conditions of censure, and/or
- The rabbi refuses to cooperate in an EC investigation of that rabbi’s conduct or otherwise violates subsection M of this Section VII (“Failure to Cooperate”) and/or
- Even in the absence of a specific complaint, in consideration of all the available facts and circumstances, the member rabbi has been charged with a felony under applicable law.
- Notice of suspension will be published in the CCAR website and the CCAR newsletter with reference, by paragraph number, to the specific provision(s) of this Code of Ethics that has been violated. Notice of suspension will be sent to the CCAR Director of Rabbinic Career Services to be placed in the rabbi’s permanent file (see Section IX Additional Provisions Concerning Notification). The EC will report the decision to the president of the rabbi’s congregation, supervisor, or employer.
- Impact on rabbinic work:
- Depending on the severity of the violation and other attendant circumstances, the EC may require the rabbi to take leave of all rabbinic work until rehabilitation is completed and the EC determines that the rabbi will be reinstated to full membership.
- Unless otherwise provided by the EC, a rabbi under suspension may not seek or accept rabbinic employment or engage in the practice of the rabbinate in any institution, including but not limited to, congregations affiliated with the URJ, the World Union for Progressive Judaism, the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, or in institutions associated with the Reform Movement, including but not limited to the URJ, the HUC-JIR, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Religious Action Center, and the Israel Religious Action Center.
- During the rehabilitation process, the EC may permit the rabbi to engage in rabbinic employment with restrictions. Any such restrictions will be: (a) published in the CCAR website and the CCAR newsletter; (b) sent to the CCAR Director of Rabbinic Career Services to be placed in the rabbi’s permanent file (see Section IX Additional Provisions Concerning Notification); and (c) sent to the president of the rabbi’s congregation, supervisor, or employer.
- CCAR Membership: The rabbi will no longer enjoy the privileges of membership including but not limited to serving in positions of leadership or participating in conferences, conventions, committees, or programs of the CCAR or any of its regions. When the rabbi has complied with the rehabilitation process and been reinstated to full membership, the Director of Rabbinic Career Services will be so informed (see Section IX (“Additional Provisions Concerning Notification”), and, with the consent of the reinstated rabbi, the CCAR membership will also be informed.
- If the adjudicatory process results in suspension, the rabbi is required to adhere to the conditions of suspension.
- Definition: The sanction of expulsion is reserved for the gravest offenses, repeated violations, failure to comply with conditions of censure or with conditions of suspension, or willful violation of the Section VII.M. (“Failure to Cooperate”).
- Expulsion is mandated when a rabbi is found to have committed a Type 2 Violation with a minor or incapacitated person, deliberately caused the death of another person, committed rape of a person who is not a minor, or (if warranted under the facts and circumstances) committed any other offense that is a felony under applicable law. The EC may recognize exceptions to this in cases of acts of conscience.
- If a rabbi is convicted in a court of law of any felony offenses, that rabbi will be expelled even if a complaint has not been filed.
- Regardless of the outcome of any separate civil or criminal proceedings involving a rabbi, the EC still must adjudicate the complaint filed through this ethics process.
- Notice of expulsion:
- Notice will be published in the CCAR website and the CCAR newsletter with reference, by paragraph number, to the specific provision(s) of this Code of Ethics that has been violated.
- Notice will be sent to the CCAR Director of Rabbinic Career Services to be placed in the rabbi’s permanent file (see Section IX Additional Provisions Concerning Notification).
- In a case where the BOA reduces the EC decision to expel a rabbi to a suspension and the rabbi has complied with the rehabilitation process and has been reinstated to full membership, the Director of Rabbinic Career Services will be so informed (see Section IX), and, with the consent of the reinstated rabbi, the CCAR membership will also be informed.
- A rabbi who has been expelled may petition the EC to be granted the status of suspension. This status change requires a decision endorsed by two-thirds (2/3) of the members of the EC and a minimum of three members of the BOA. If a status change is granted, the rabbi will be subject to the same requirements outlined above for suspended colleagues.
- As part of CCAR membership, there is an obligation to uphold this Code of Ethics. It will be a violation of this Code for a CCAR member to knowingly employ any person (directly or by consenting to the employment of such a person by their congregation/organization) who has been expelled from the CCAR for breach of this Code of Ethics and has not been reinstated.
The CCAR Constitution (Article V, Section 2) and By-Laws (Article VII, Section 2) provide for a Board of Appeals (“BOA”). Except in instances when the EC dismisses a matter, those affected by a decision of the EC may appeal the EC’s determination only as provided below. The BOA may provide for its own internal operating rules provided they do not contradict the CCAR Constitution or By-Laws or any article of this Code. Such rules will be published on the CCAR website.
- Post-decision Review
- Dismissal: If the EC dismisses the complaint, or an allegation therein, the complainant or alleged victim(s) may only seek reconsideration before the EC. No further appeal is allowable.
- Reprimand: The subject of a reprimand will have the right to appeal the decision of the EC to the BOA.
- Censure: The subject of a censure will have the right to appeal to the BOA the decision of the EC regarding the original censure adjudication, and any subsequent decision of the EC solely regarding removal of the rabbi from all rabbinic functions.
- Suspension: The subject of a suspension will have the right to appeal the decision of the EC to the BOA.
- Expulsion: The subject of an expulsion will have the right to appeal the decision of the EC to the BOA.
- Standard of Review: In all appeals, as provided in the Article VII, Section 2(e), CCAR By-Laws, the BOA gives the EC decision a “presumption of correctness” and its review should decide if there was any prejudicial abuse of discretion by determining (a) if the procedure was substantially fair and conformed to the CCAR Code of Ethics as well as (b) whether the decision was reasonably supported by the evidence.
- Scope of Review: The BOA “is not to engage in a new full hearing,” (id.) nor engage in additional fact-finding, but to rely on the factual record developed by the EC and any arguments presented to the BOA by the parties when assessing the EC’s decision. To the extent that the BOA identifies a factual deficiency in the record, the case should be returned to EC for further action, including additional information gathering.
- Voting Requirements: All decisions of the BOA, except for the except for the affirmance of expulsion, require a minimum vote of at least three members of the BOA. A vote affirming expulsion requires a vote of four of the five members of the BOA.
- Decisions of the BOA are final and not subject to further review or appeal.
- When a rabbi has been disciplined for serious breaches of this Code of Ethics, our primary concern must be the safety of the individuals and communities we serve. The possibility of reinstatement must be considered in a context where the well-being of those who come to us for guidance and teaching is paramount.
- While t’shuvah-rehabilitation is always possible, reinstatement to the active rabbinate may not always be possible for all who have been disciplined.
- T’shuvah-rehabilitation and reinstatement require a fundamental change in behavior and understanding. Rehabilitation is a precondition for reinstatement, and whenever possible it will be encouraged and guided by the EC.
- Requirements for Reinstatement: To be eligible for reinstatement, the rabbi must have fulfilled the following requirements:
- Unequivocal acknowledgment of responsibility for harm done to victim(s), the congregation or institution, and honor of the rabbinate, with specific violations and actions acknowledged;
- An acceptable expression of remorse to those who have been harmed;
- Demonstrated resolve never to repeat any offense of this nature;
- The making of restitution, which may include expenses incurred by the victim(s) and/or other appropriate actions as mandated by the EC.
- In order to meet the Requirements for Reinstatement outlined above, the Rabbi must:
- Engage in T’shuvah-rehabilitation counseling (“TRaC”), as outlined in Section VIII. TRaC will be provided by at least two rabbinic colleagues appointed by the EC. TRaC counselors shall meet regularly with the rabbi to supervise, guide, and monitor the rabbi’s progress.
- Therapy: Engage in an appropriate course of therapy or remediation by a licensed professional approved by the EC.
- Evaluation by Qualified Professional:
- When a rabbi is sanctioned, there is both an intake and final evaluation by a qualified professional, other than the rabbi’s own therapist, chosen by the EC.
- Both evaluations are made available to the rabbi if requested.
- A summary of the evaluation is sent to the EC.
- The rabbi is financially responsible for these evaluations.
- When the EC is considering whether a rabbi has met all of the requirements to be reinstated and that it may be timely to reinstate the rabbi, prior to making a decision of reinstatement, the EC will send notice in writing to the complainant(s) and the victim(s). The EC will give consideration to the comments if any received in response to such a notification prior to making a decision of reinstatement.
- The decision to reinstate a sanctioned rabbi will require a recommendation by at least two (2) of the TRaC counselors, a positive assessment by the professionals involved, and a decision by affirmative vote of at least two-thirds (2/3) of the EC. Reinstatement is subject to any conditions the EC may impose. Such conditions shall be: (a) published in the CCAR website and the CCAR newsletter; (b) sent to the CCAR Director of Rabbinic Career Services to be placed in the rabbi’s permanent file (see Section IX Additional Provisions Concerning Notification); and (c) reported to the president of the rabbi’s congregation, to the rabbi’s supervisor, or to the rabbi’s employer.
- Notice that sanctions have been lifted will be communicated in writing to the rabbi, the complainant(s), and the victim(s) by the Chair of the EC.
- Once reinstated to full membership, the rabbi may make use of the CCAR placement process. The Director of Rabbinic Career Services will inform congregations considering the engagement of the rabbi of past complaints concerning the rabbi and of the rehabilitation that has been completed in accordance with the procedures described in Section IX (“Additional Provisions Concerning Notification”).
- As a condition of reinstatement into the system of placement, the rabbi will continue meeting with TRaC counselors for at least an additional two years. When a rabbi has been suspended or expelled, and when suspension has been lifted, or where expulsion has been changed to suspension, notification will be published in the CCAR newsletter at the discretion of the rabbi.
- Failure to Cooperate
- Definition: “Failure to Cooperate” as used in this Code means to willfully refuse to participate in or to hinder or obstruct the ethics process, including but not limited to, intimidating an alleged victim or complainant or person requested to provide information. The CCAR and the rabbis who lead and guide the ethics process expect that the rabbi who is the subject of the process will be in respectful communication with them and forthcoming on all matters, and not interpose intermediaries or advocates who would delay or complicate this religious process. Further it is expected that the Complainant abide by this Code and act in good faith in all respects.
- Retaliation: It shall be a violation of this Code for a rabbi who is or was the subject of an ethics complaint to retaliate against or threaten to retaliate against a complainant, a witness, or any other person who participates in, intends to participate in, or participated in the CCAR’s ethics process (collectively, a “Participant”). Retaliation may take many forms and includes any negative action taken against a Participant, including without limitation, against their profession, reputation, finances, social or religious standing, synagogue membership or position. It also shall be a violation of this Code for a rabbi to use the CCAR ethics process to retaliate against a rabbi, for example by filing an unfounded ethics complaint.
- Concurrent Civil Legal Process: A concurrent legal process which has been commenced against the rabbi which may result in delay is not a “failure to cooperate.” The EC may defer its resolution of a complaint and/or the imposition of sanctions until the civil process is completed. By contrast, a rabbi who commences a civil action against the CCAR to stop or reverse an ethics process can be considered to be failing to cooperate.
- Rabbi Resignation After Notice of Complaint: If a rabbi resigns from the CCAR at any time after the rabbi has knowledge that a complainant intends to file an ethics complaint against the rabbi or after a complaint has been filed with the EC, or before the completion of the ethics process (including the lifting of any limitations on rabbinic service, or before the completion of the TRaC process) that rabbi will be expelled from the CCAR.
- Actions on Failure to Cooperate: The EC may impose an immediate and/or additional penalty, including expulsion, depending on the facts and circumstances if a rabbi fails to cooperate in this process, and an appropriate remedy if a complainant or other party fails to cooperate in this process.
VIII. Ethical T’shuvah-Rehabilitation Counseling
A t’shuvah counseling team is tasked to supervise, guide, and monitor the rabbi toward t’shuvah-rehabilitation. The core of the process if for the healing and growth of the rabbi beginning with an awareness of the reality of what the rabbi has done and its impact on others. Awareness of the rabbi as an ethical role model and as one who must exemplify holiness should be emphasized.
- T’shuvah-Rehabilitation Counseling Team (the “TRaC Team”)
- The TRaC Team will be composed of at least two, ideally three rabbis (“counselors”).
- TRaC Team counselors are appointed by the Chair of the EC.
- The EC will provide an orientation for the TRaC Team, based on the circumstances of the case.
- The TRaC Team will remain in continuous contact with the Chair of the EC and submit written reports following each session with the rabbi.
- New Charges: If a new charge is brought forward before the EC while a colleague is in t’shuvah-rehabilitation counseling, the Chair of the EC will notify the TRaC Team in writing.
- Goal of the TRaC Team: The goal of the TRaC team is to supervise, guide and monitor the rabbi toward t’shuvah-rehabilitation.
- Responsibilities of TRaC Counselors/Team
- In order to serve effectively as a TRaC counselor:
- It is important to maintain appropriate objectivity and confidentiality.
- The role of the TRaC counselor is not to be an advocate for the rabbi.
- In conjunction with the Chair of the EC, TRaC counselors are responsible for helping the rabbi meet the requirements for reinstatement (see Section VII.L.4).
- The TRaC Team should meet with the rabbi at least every three months.
IX. Additional Provisions Concerning Notification
- The CCAR, through the CCAR Senior Staff and in coordination with the Chair of the EC, will carefully maintain a section of the publicly accessible CCAR website dealing with the Ethics Code, and will publish information concerning specific ethics proceedings in accord with the provisions of this Code.
- Information communicated in writing from the EC to the Director of Rabbinic Career Services will include at least the following:
- The fact that the rabbi was censured, suspended, or expelled on a particular date.
- The general category and nature of the violation, and whether it involved minors and/or incapacitated adults.
- The nature and length of the process of t’shuvah-rehabilitation.
- One of the following: (i) that the rabbi is not eligible for placement, or (ii) the date of reinstatement by the BOA or EC, or (iii) that the process if still ongoing but that the rabbi has been made eligible for placement.
- A written statement from the EC affirming that a rabbi who has been suspended, censured, or expelled has now been reinstated should be retained in the files of:
- The Director of Rabbinic Career Services.
- The current EC Chair.
- The Chief Executive of the CCAR.
- When a congregational rabbi selection committee or other prospective employer decides to invite a candidate eligible for placement for an interview, the Director of Rabbinic Career Services will in writing communicate to the committee or prospective employer, with a copy to the rabbi, the information contained in the written report from the EC to the Director or Rabbinic Career Services described in section A. above. If a congregation or other prospective employer asks the Chair of the EC for additional information about the candidate, the EC Chair should ask the congregation or prospective employer to request a letter from the candidate authorizing the EC Chair to provide such information.
- In case of adjudication in a single non-criminal infraction, after an extended period of time, the Director of Rabbinic Career Services, in consultation with the legal counsel of the CCAR, the chair of the EC, and the Chief Executive of the CCAR, may refrain from communicating regarding the non-criminal infraction to the search committee of a prospective employer.
X. Unfounded Allegations
- If, after decision by the EC, the charge is considered to be lacking a factual basis, the EC should remain mindful of the potential damage to the rabbi’s reputation and position by the mere lodging of such a meritless complaint. The CCAR should make reasonable efforts to restore the rabbi’s good name and stature.
- If the EC finds that the complaint is mischievous, malicious, or vindictive, the EC will lend moral and practical support to the rabbi’s reasonable demands for an apology from the complainant, vindication before the congregation or organization, or an opportunity for placement elsewhere.
- The filing by a CCAR rabbi of a complaint, or allegations therein, that is found to be lacking a factual basis and is mischievous, malicious, or vindictive, constitutes a violation of this Code. Depending on the facts and circumstances, the EC may discipline that member by imposing a sanction without the filing of a further complaint.
- Prior to such decision, the EC will give written notice to the rabbi that a sanction is being considered under this section of the Code, and the rabbi will have an opportunity to present their case to the EC and/or to respond to questions from the EC.
- At the discretion of the EC, this meeting may be held in-person or by video conference.
- This meeting will not be recorded by any device, except that any party may take notes or have someone who is accompanying them take notes. The EC will take notes of the meeting for its own use.
- The rabbi appearing before the EC may have with them no more than two persons for support purposes only, but those persons do not participate in the process and may not offer advice, comment, or direction to the person or the EC unless requested by the EC.
As members of the CCAR, we pledge ourselves to be scrupulous in our adherence to the foregoing statement of rabbinic ethics, and to hold others and ourselves to the highest standards. At the same time, we feel called to heal brokenness and in all we do to seek to balance midat hadin (principle of justice) with midat harachamim (principle of compassion).
 The following abbreviations are used throughout this document:
- Board of Appeals (“BOA”)
- Central Conference of American Rabbis (“CCAR”)
- Ethics Committee (“EC”)
- Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (“HUC-JIR”)
- Information Gathering Team (“IGT”)
- T’shuvah Counseling and Rehabilitation (“TRaC” and “TRaC Team”)
- Union for Reform Judaism (“URJ”)
 This refers both to “minors” – those persons 18 years of age and younger for whom the civil law and our traditions provide additional protections and who lack the ability to give valid consent and to those adults who, by virtue of mental or physical condition, lack the ability to consent or resist the advances of others.
 Grooming is a process by which an offender builds a relationship and emotional connection with a minor or vulnerable person that breaks down appropriate boundaries and creates both trust and reliance on the offender with the intention of manipulating or abusing a minor or vulnerable person while ensuring the secrecy of the manipulation or abuse.
 A “substantive” provision identifies a Code violation and the sanction for a violation. In contrast, a “procedural” provision sets forth the practices and procedures that are applied during the ethics process.
 As set forth more fully below in Section VII (Introduction), although some terms used in this Code, such as “sexual harassment,” may have models and have legal definitions in secular law, this Code, which is essentially religious, prohibits conduct that may not be found to be illegal under federal, state, or local law.
 Physical contact or conduct is “unwelcome” when it is done without consent. Rabbis are advised not to assume consent, but to request permission before making physical contact.