URJ Event Participant Code of Conduct

Jewish tradition teaches that every person is created b'tzelem Elohim, in the Divine image. In the spirit of this core Jewish value, every individual who participates in events within the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) community – including participants, presenters, staff, vendors, guests, facilities staff, and all others – will be valued and treated with respect. Every participant, whatever their role, has a right to a safe and inclusive experience, including treatment that is fair, honest, dignified, and nonjudgmental.

The URJ does not tolerate, in any form or at any time, discrimination, harassment, bullying, sexual misconduct, threats, intimidation, menacing, or any other offensive behavior or acts against anyone in our community or participating in our events. This includes but is not limited to actions taken against others based on their race, age, religion, disability, marital status, veteran status, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, size, ethnicity, origin, religion, class, or any other identity.

Such actions are inconsistent with respecting the dignity of our fellow human beings. We are responsible for ensuring that personal and sexual boundaries are respected in our relationships with others. Thus, URJ program participants are obligated to refrain from all such behaviors when interacting with other program participants, URJ employees or contractors, or volunteers in URJ-related activities.

Areas of concern include but are not limited to bullying, sexual harassment or misconduct, and being audaciously hospitable.

1. Bullying

Bullying is unwanted, hostile behavior, either as a single act or repeated over time, committed with the intent to degrade, humiliate, or oppress another person. It may include:

  • Verbal behavior such as making threats, inappropriate sexual comments, and taunting;
  • Misbehavior such as spreading rumors and purposeful exclusion;
  • Physical behavior that involves hurting another individual’s body or damaging possessions;
  • Cyberbullying, such as persistent, unwanted texts, phone calls, or social media messages, or posting private, personal information of others online (known as “doxing”)

Bullying typically involves a real or perceived power imbalance such as using popularity, position, physical strength, or access to embarrassing information in order to control or harm others. Thus, it is important to note that while bullying will not be tolerated, respectful disagreement and good-faith critiques of one’s work and activities, even if sometimes harsh, are not bullying. Individuals’ ability to disagree and/or share ideas and concerns openly and without reprisal must not be compromised and will be respected and protected.

2. Sexual Harassment or Misconduct

Sexual harassment includes, for example, unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favors, and other unwelcome verbal, physical, or visual conduct of a sexual nature when:

  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect, intentionally or unintentionally, of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s participation, work, or volunteer performance, or otherwise creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
  • Submission to such conduct is made, either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s standing as a participant, volunteer, or employee.
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for participation in a URJ event, employment decisions, or decisions concerning volunteer assignments, whether or not such decisions have direct economic consequences.

Conduct of this nature diminishes us all and compromises our ability – individually and collectively – to demonstrate our commitment to living lives that reflect our Jewish values.

3. Audacious Hospitality

Participants, staff, and volunteers of URJ programs will likely meet and work with Jews from backgrounds (i.e., races, cultures, genders, socioeconomic, etc.) different from their own. Jews from historically marginalized backgrounds – including Jews of Color, Jews who identify as LGBTQIA+, or Jews with disabilities – are frequently, albeit unintentionally, made to feel “othered” in Jewish spaces when they are asked questions about their background or Jewish identity that serve to further marginalize them and separate them from Jews from dominant backgrounds (white, Ashkenazi, heterosexual, etc.)

As such, all participants, staff, and volunteers in URJ programs are asked are asked to recognize and bear in mind the diversity of the Jewish people and to continually challenge dominant ideas of who “looks Jewish” (for example, not mistaking Jews of Color for building staff or asking if they are “lost” in Jewish spaces). By respecting one another’s identities in this way, we help to make Reform Judaism a more inclusive and comfortable space for all.

4. How to Report a Violation

To report a violation of this Code of Conduct against yourself or as a witness of harassment against another individual:

  • In person: To the senior URJ staff member onsite. If the complaint concerns that person, complaints should instead be made to a member of the URJ Oversight Committee onsite. These individuals will be identified in the program materials. If there is no Oversight Committee member onsite, reporting should be done by phone or email as below.
  • By phone: to URJ Director of Human Resources Stefani Jarrett (212-650-4024) or URJ Chief Program Officer Mark Pelavin (212-650-4220)
  • By email: to URJ Director of Human Resources Stefani Jarrett (sjarrett@urj.org) or URJ Chief Program Officer Mark Pelavin (mpelavin@urj.org)

Please note that the behavior of URJ employees is governed by the URJ Employee Handbook; the behavior of contractors by their Independent Contractor Agreement; and the behavior of URJ volunteers is governed by the URJ Ethics Code. Copies of these documents are available upon request.