Trauma: The immediate or long-lasting somatic, emotional, and psychological effects of experiencing and reacting to a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
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Disability: A physical, mental, intellectual and/or developmental condition that limits a person’s movements, senses, or activities. Some people self-identify as having a disability, others are legally defined as having a disability. Disabilities may be both “visible” and “invisible”.
Organization: For the purpose of Keilim, the term organization is being used loosely to refer to any group of people operating with a particular purpose, whether incorporated, fiscally sponsored, or not, including but not limited to community centers, synagogues, camps, schools, Federations, foundations, social justice organizations, non-profits, and other more informal groups.
Gender Identity: A person’s inner understanding of the gender(s) with which they identify. This is each person’s unique knowing or feeling, and is separate from a person’s physical body or appearance (although often related) and from the sex assigned to the individual at birth.
Sexual Orientation: A pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions. A sense of one’s personal and social identity based on attractions. Describes whether and to whom one is attracted sexually, physically, romantically, etc.
Caregiver: An individual primarily or secondarily responsible for the care of a dependent, including, children, elderly, or those with disabilities.
Trauma-informed: Strategies to ensure that the approach to instances or suspicions of maltreatment acknowledges and focuses on the effects of trauma on the individual’s wellbeing. Trauma-sensitive, trauma-aware, trauma-integrating, and people-centered are all related and evolving terms. Six principles of a trauma-informed approach are: safety; trustworthiness & transparency; peer support; collaboration & mutuality; empowerment & choice; cultural, historical & gender issues.
Victim-Survivor: “Victim” is preferred by some because it clearly communicates the harm that was perpetrated. Others prefer “survivor” because it reclaims some of the power that was taken from them and communicates resiliency. Yet others use the term “thriver” to communicate that they have thrived despite the maltreatment they experienced. Some individuals eschew any of these labels and devise others that they prefer. Best practice when referring to specific individuals who have experienced maltreatment is to use the term they prefer, including no term if preferred. Because on a web platform we are unable to defer to individuals’ wishes, we use the hyphenated “victim-survivor,” recognizing that this term does not resonate universally. You might also introduce the language of “someone with lived experience of ___”.
We are excited to announce [organization name] is forming a Keilim Committee to guide our community / organization in promoting a safe, respectful, and equitable environment at [insert organization name]. We believe that you would bring unique wisdom, experience, sensitivity, and perspective to this project, and would like to invite you to join the Committee.
The Committee will write / update our organizational policies that prevent harassment, discrimination, and abuse, as well as those that encourage healthy interactions and moral leadership. When the policies are complete, the Committee will develop a plan for sharing the Policy information, educating the community about its content, answering questions about the Policy, and overseeing ongoing maintenance and evaluation.
We hope that you will consider accepting our invitation, playing a key role in fostering a culture of safety, respect, and equity at [organization name]. If you are interested in learning more, please attend the information session that we will be holding on [date] / let me know when would be a good time to speak. Thank you for your consideration, and do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Rabbi / Executive Director / CEO/ Board Chair / Committee Chair
To help set a meaningful or reflective tone for your Committee's work, consider beginning meetings with:
Additional resources, including misheberachs or prayers for healing for those affected by discrimination, harassment or abuse, can be found on Ritualwell. Of course, while prayer is commonplace in many Jewish organizations, some organizations may prefer to choose an intention that is not rooted in Jewish liturgy.
Below are examples of blessings with which Committees may choose to start their meetings. Beginning in blessing can serve as a reminder that the Committee’s work is grounded in Jewish tradition and values, provide a moment of centering and reflection before beginning to work, and highlight the holy nature of building safe, respectful, and equitable organizations. Asking God for guidance is a practice in humility, reminding the Committee that it is not all-powerful but a vessel through which to perform sacred work.
יהי רצון מלפניך ה׳ אלוקינו ואלוקי אבותינו ואמהותינו שתברך ועדה זו ועבודתה כאן היום, שתצליח בידינו לייצר נהלים המגינים על קהילתנו. עזור לנו לזכור שבעדיפות עליונה עלינו להגן על המבוגרים, .הילדים, הפגיעים והרגישים ועל כל אדם אחר התלוי בנו לעשות הישר עבורם ולקדש שמך בעולם
G-d, we ask you to bless this Committee and our work here together tonight, so that we can put procedures in place to protect our community. We ask that you help us remember that our priority must always be to protect all community members, including adults, children, vulnerable and at-risk individuals, and all those who depend upon us to do what is right.¹
We recognize that individuals accessing Keilim may have personal experiences related to discrimination, harassment, and other abuses of power. Please know that we take your safety and healing seriously. If you are seeking resources related to support for yourself, please refer to this national list of resources.