11 of Article XIII of the Constitution and Bylaws provides that resolutions may
be initiated by a constituent congregation, a Council or Federation, the Board
of Trustees, a National Affiliate, or a Commission, not less than ninety (90)
days before the first plenary session of the Biennial. This year, the final
date for submission will be Friday, September 16, 2011. We ask, however,
that resolutions be sent as soon as they are available. Resolutions must be
submitted to the Resolutions Committee, in care of Barbara Weinstein at the
email address below. Following review by the Resolutions Committee, the
resolutions are sent to the congregations with the recommendations of the
Resolutions Committee at least sixty (60) days before the Biennial convenes.
Proposed amendments to reported resolutions may be submitted to the Resolutions
Committee at least ten (10) days before the Biennial convenes.
there is a procedure for initiation of resolutions by petition of five
congregations at the Biennial, that procedure should be used only for those
matters that could not have been anticipated in time for submission to the
Resolutions Committee by September 16, 2011.
ensure any proposed resolutions are restricted to important matters on which
the Union should take a stand and do not
repeat matters that are already established policy. To review the existing
Union resolutions, go to urj.org/resolutions/.
Resolutions Committee uses a standard format for all resolutions brought before
the Biennial. In place of a series of "whereas" clauses, we favor a descriptive
background section of one or more paragraphs followed by the resolution portion
that sets forth the specific actions to be taken. As a model for the form in
which resolutions should be submitted, we have attached a recent resolution.
the 2011 Biennial, we will again be operating under a revised process, adopted
in 2008, to guide consideration of resolutions.
The process responds to
concerns that resolutions were not given the attention they merit at past
Biennials and the corresponding frustration among congregations that proposed
such resolutions. A copy of the revised process is outlined below under
REVISED RESOLUTIONS PROCESS. Your help
is vital to ensuring the success of the resolutions process.
addition, any proposal that would amend the Constitution or Bylaws of the Union
must be presented as a proposed amendment pursuant to Article VII of the
Constitution or Article XVII of the Bylaws. A proposal to change the
requirements of the Constitution or Bylaws by resolution will be rejected.
Since those Articles require the Board of Trustees or the Executive Committee
to transmit the proposed amendment, with its views thereon, to the constituent
congregations at least sixty (60) days prior to the date appointed for the
General Assembly, any such amendments must be submitted to Peter Weidhorn,
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, no later than August 17.
you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to
contact us by phone at 202-387-2800 or by email at email@example.com.
BYLAWS OF THE UNION FOR REFORM JUDAISM ARTICLE XIII.
MEETINGS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
SECTION 11. All resolutions to be acted upon by the
General Assembly shall be presented as follows:
a. Resolutions may be initiated
by presentation to the Resolutions Committee (care of the administrative
secretary) by a constituent congregation, a council or federation, the Board of
Trustees, a national affiliate, or a commission not less than ninety (90) days
prior to the date appointed for the convening of the General Assembly. All such
resolutions shall be considered by the Resolutions Committee, which shall have
the power to endorse them, recommend rejection of them, or suggest revisions
there of. All resolutions so submitted, in original form or as changed with the
consent of the proposers, shall be reported to the constituent congregations of
the Union not less than sixty (60) days prior to the date appointed for the
convening of the General Assembly, together with the recommendations of the
Resolutions Committee, including any suggested changes or substitutes and
reasons thereof. Proposed amendments to such reported resolutions may be
submitted to the Resolutions Committee at least ten (10) days prior to the date
appointed for the convening of the General Assembly.
Committee shall meet in the city in which the General Assembly is being held at
least forty-eight hours prior to the opening of the first scheduled plenary
session to consider such resolutions and any suggested amendments thereto, at
which time proposers of the resolutions or amendments shall have an opportunity
to be heard.
b. Resolutions may be submitted
to the Resolutions Committee through the administrative secretary by petition
of the majority of the registered delegates of each of at least five
constituent congregations not later than the end of the plenary session of the
second day of the General Assembly.
c. Additional resolutions may
be presented to the General Assembly at any time during the meeting of the
General Assembly by the Resolutions Committee and by other committees of the
General Assembly appointed by the chairman of the Board of Trustees or by the
SECTION 12. All resolutions referred or submitted
to the Resolutions Committee of the General Assembly as provided in subsections
(a) or (b) of Section 11 of this article shall be considered by said committee,
and such resolutions as it shall approve, either as originally proposed or as
modified, shall be recommended by it to the General Assembly for consideration
and passage. The Resolutions Committee shall also report any resolutions
rejected by it or on which it failed to act, and these resolutions may not be
considered by the General Assembly except upon the affirmative vote of the
majority of delegates present and voting without debate.
SECTION 13. The adoption of resolutions recommended
to the General Assembly by the Resolutions Committee pursuant to subsection (a)
of Section 11 of this article shall require the affirmative vote of a majority
of the delegates present and voting. Amendments to such resolutions that were
previously submitted to the Resolutions Committee prior to the ten-day period
described in subsection (a) of Section 11 of this article, if properly
submitted to the General Assembly for consideration, shall require the
affirmative vote of a majority of the delegates present and voting. Amendments
to such resolutions that were not previously submitted to the Resolutions
Committee prior to such ten-day period shall be considered by the General
Assembly only upon the affirmative vote of a majority of the delegates present
and voting without debate. The adoption of resolutions presented to the General
Assembly pursuant to subsections (b) or (c) of Section 11 of this article shall
require the affirmative vote of three-fifths of the delegates present and
SECTION 14. Except as otherwise provided herein,
meetings of the General Assembly shall be conducted in accordance with
parliamentary usage as set forth in the latest revised edition of Robert's Rules of Order.
REVISED RESOLUTIONS PROCESS Prepared
by the Task Force on Biennial Resolutions; as
amended and accepted by the URJ Executive Board on
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Members of the Task Force on Biennial Resolutions:
Chair: Steve Pruzan
Committee Members: Barry Epstein, Bill Blumstein, Cheryl Gutmann, Rabbi David Saperstein, Elliott Jacobson, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, Hank Levine, Honey Heller, Jennifer Kaufman, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Martin Jannol, Mauri Willis, Michael Laufer, Rabbi Peter Knobel, Peter Weidhorn, Shirley Gordon, Steven Burkett
Staff: Rabbi Elliot Kleinman, Mark J. Pelavin, Kate Bigam
Pursuant to the By-laws, Biennial resolutions may be proposed by any of the following:
a. Constituent congregations
b. A council or federation
c. The Board of Trustees
d. An affiliatee. e. A commission
Pursuant to the By-laws, all Biennial resolutions shall be submitted to the Resolutions Committee as follows:
a. All resolutions must be submitted 90 days prior to the Biennial. b. The Resolutions Committee shall review resolutions and prepare recommendations as specified in the Unions By-laws and will be responsible for writing honorific resolutions. c. All resolutions shall be sent to the congregations as required by the By-laws and to the Resolutions Prioritization Committee, with the exception of honorific resolutions, which may be brought directly to the Biennial from the Resolutions Committee.
A Resolutions Prioritization Committee will be established. The composition and function of the Committee shall be as follows:
a. The Resolutions Prioritization Committee shall include the following individuals or their designees:
Chairperson of the Board of Trustees
President of the URJ
Resolutions Committee chairperson
Commission on Social Action chairperson
Biennial Program Committee Chairperson
Chief Program Officer
b. In the event the Committee determines that circumstances require that there be more than three Biennial Programming Resolutions (see Sec. 4 below) to be presented to the general assembly, the Committee shall identify those additional resolutions, and recommend same to the Officers of the URJ, who shall then determine whether any or all additional resolutions be deemed to be Biennial Programming Resolutions.
For each Biennial Programming Resolution:
a. There shall be a specific time at one of the plenary sessions when each of the resolutions shall be the subject of a program for a time certain.
b. Immediately following the program as set forth in section (a.) above, a designated amount of time shall be allotted for debate on the resolution by delegates attending the plenary session.
c. Upon completion of debate, the resolution shall be voted upon by those delegates in attendance at the said plenary session.
For General Biennial Resolutions, except in the case of a conflict with the Unions By-laws:
a. All General Biennial Resolutions shall be discussed and/or debated at designated workshop(s) on the Thursday of the Biennial. At least two members of the Resolutions Prioritization Committee shall attend these workshops and be available to answer questions.
b. If any amendments are proposed to any or all of the General Biennial Resolutions during the workshop on Thursday, the Resolutions Committee shall meet Thursday night of the Biennial to consider whether to accept any of these amendments.
c. The General Biennial Resolutions shall be voted upon individually by the delegates present at a Friday plenary session through an up or down vote (i.e., these resolutions will not be discussed or debated at the plenary session).
d. Delegates shall be advised in advance as to the plenary session at which the vote will take place.
e. A motion may be made from the floor to debate any General Biennial Resolution. The resolution will be debated if the motion is passed by two-thirds of those present and voting. The motion to debate itself is a non-debatable motion.
Except in the case of a conflict with the Unions By-laws, all honorific resolutions shall be voted upon individually by the delegates attending at one of the plenary sessions, designated in advance, by and up and down vote (i.e. without discussion or debate).
Except in the case of a conflict with the Unions By-laws, with regard to resolutions based upon the Presidents Message Committee:
a. The Presidents Message Committee shall meet to prepare and recommend resolutions based on the Presidents message, which will be available by the conclusion of Shabbat to the general assembly.
b. A time shall be designated on Sunday morning prior to the Sunday morning plenary session designated for delegates to meet with the Presidents Message Committee members to discuss or debate the Presidents Message Committees proposed resolutions.
c. The Presidents Message Committee resolutions shall be voted upon individually by an up and down vote of the delegates attending the Sunday morning plenary session without discussion or debate. d. A motion may be made from the floor to debate any Presidents Message Committee resolution. The resolution will be debated if the motion is passed by two-thirds of those present and voting. The motion to debate itself is a non-debatable motion.
a. It is anticipated that the URJ board will play an increased role in consideration and adoption of resolutions. All resolutions regardless of the procedure under which they are adopted shall have equal weight and authority as expressions of the views and policies of the Union.
} b. Those bodies listed in Section 1 may, between meetings of the General Assembly, submit resolutions for consideration by the Board of Trustees or its Executive Committee.
c. Such Resolutions shall be submitted in writing to the Chair of the Board and to the President of the Union.
d. The Chair of the Board and President of the Union may refer such resolutions to the Standing Resolutions Committee for additional consideration and consultation or, where necessary, may schedule such resolutions for consideration at a Board of Trustees meeting or at an Executive Committee meeting.
e. Once scheduled, the Chair of the Standing Resolutions Committee or his/her designee shall present the resolution for consideration at a meeting of the Board or the Executive Committee.
f. Resolutions scheduled for consideration by the Board or the Executive Committee shall be distributed in advance to the Congregations, in accordance with the provisions of the March 2008 Memorandum to Congregations from the Chair and President (copy attached).
TO: Congregational Presidents, Rabbis, Social Action Chairs and URJ Regional Boards
FR: Peter Weidhorn, Chairman
Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President
CC: Union Board
RE: Union for Reform Judaism Resolutions on Controversial Public Policy Issues
The Union has for over a century adopted resolutions taking positions on public policy issues where we believed that was necessary to fulfill our prophetic witness. We have a clear process for securing approval for such resolutions depending on the particular facts and circumstances and the urgency with which we must act. In connection with Biennials, there is a process in our Constitution and By-Laws for securing resolutions from congregations and sending proposed resolution to our congregations for comment prior to their consideration at the Biennial Convention. In between Biennials, resolutions can be presented to and considered by our 250-member Board of Trustees or 70-member Executive Committee.
While we have full consultation with the congregations in connection with resolutions to be adopted at Biennials, there has not previously been the opportunity for similar consultation when the Board or Executive Committee is considering such resolutions. Toward that end, we wanted to let you know of our goal of establishing new ways through technology to enhance input from congregations before the Board or Executive Committee considers resolutions that take position on controversial public issues.
What we plan to do to achieve this goal is to start with the following new process:
When it is known that a resolution will be considered by our Board or Executive Committee on a public policy issue considered controversial by the Chair and President, the Union will inform congregational leaders and regional boards through appropriate electronic means (Presconf, RAVKAV) of what the Union is considering.
When a draft of the resolution being considered is available, the Union will send to those leaders.
The Union will establish an online mechanism for receiving comment by the congregational leaders on proposed resolutions. Responses will be shared by the Unions decision making bodies.
In addition, we will continue our long-standing practice of ensuring that the Board or Executive Committee members read and hear perspectives for and against what is being proposed.
After the Board or Executive Committee meeting, the Union will inform congregations of the action taken. We will establish an appropriate on-line vehicle to allow for comments on the Board or Executive Committee decision on the resolution to be posted and viewed by our public.
There will be times when issues arise abruptly where there will be not be adequate time to trigger this process. In addition, our Chairman, President and other leaders will retain their flexibility of speaking out on issues when in their judgment it is important to do so. But we think it important to start trying to use our technology to better include our congregations in the Unions deliberations on resolutions. As we gain more experience, we will then refine the process.
We look forward to your participation in this new process.