NHC Community Safety Policy 2019

The National Havurah Committee strives to create safe, comfortable, supportive, and enjoyable spaces for learning and fellowship among participants. The following guidelines are designed to help the entire community be thoughtful about the ways in which we, individually and collectively, nurture these spaces and relate to the people in them.

The work of formally drafting these guidelines is new to us as an organization as it is to many communities. We welcome input, and expect that our guidelines will evolve over time.

We seek to foster a culture of affirmative consent regarding both physical and verbal interactions. If you are unsure whether a touch or a line of conversation is welcome, ask before initiating it. If someone tells you to stop (with words or other signals) step back immediately. Respect that by maintaining their personal boundaries and comfort, they are creating a safer space for everybody, regardless of your intentions.

If you are uncomfortable with a touch or line of conversation, you have the right to say “no” and state that it needs to stop. While some may choose to use NHC spaces to challenge or step outside of their own comfort zones, no one is obligated to do anything uncomfortable.

The NHC rejects all forms of sexual harassment and sexual assault, including but not limited to, unwelcome sexual advances, unwanted intimate conversation, and/or physical contact without consent or after a request to stop.

While we strive to be an egalitarian organization, we recognize that power differentials do exist and can be experienced between community members. These may be based on leadership and public roles at Institute, years in the community, gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, disability status, wealth, age, and other factors. Any behavior that exploits these, or any other power differences, to coerce consent or breach a community member’s physical or emotional boundaries is a violation of our communal values. (One example of an Institute-specific power differential: To reduce the risk of unintentional exploitation or coercion, teachers of weeklong courses at Institute should not initiate romantic relationships with students in their courses until the week of the course is over.)

We strongly encourage community members who have experienced or witnessed violations of these guidelines to bring them to the Community Council (reachable year-round at communitycouncil@havurah.org). We recognize that these may happen at NHC events or in other spaces shared by members of the NHC community. We recognize and are grateful for the strength and generosity of people who come forward. If someone does not feel comfortable coming to the Community Council, for any reason, they may also contact the NHC Chair (chair@havurah.org), any member of the Executive Committee, or the Program Director (office@havurah.org).

The Community Council will prioritize the needs of community members who are victims of harassment or assault. For complaints brought during a retreat, every effort will be made to make the remainder of that retreat a safe and enjoyable experience for the person who has experienced harassment. In some cases, time will be needed after the retreat has concluded for fuller conversations and responses.

The Community Council will consider a range of responses for those who have violated the guidelines, which may include temporary or permanent restrictions on attending NHC events, teaching at NHC events, and/or serving in leadership roles within the NHC. In some cases, the council may also support paths of teshuvah (repentance) for those who have violated.

The Community Council is not a legal body and its deliberations are not legal proceedings. The Council is guided by principles of support for the agency and needs of victims, including respect for privacy and confidentiality. In certain cases, however, such as if abuse of a minor is suspected, we may be bound by, and will respect, mandatory reporting laws. We will also observe any guidelines required by a hosting retreat site.

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