Sacred Spaces provides expert advisement to Jewish organizations when issues of concern arise. These issues can range from seemingly minor to major, and may include: observed boundary or policy violations; individuals who make others uncomfortable; concerns about a governance structure or culture that feels unhealthy; allegations of harassment, assault or abuse; rumors of harassment, assault or abuse; and first-hand knowledge of harassment assault or abuse, among others. The concerning information may be new or historic.
Sacred Spaces provides, on average, 1-3 case consults per week. In a relatively short engagement, we guide organizations in properly responding to concerns or allegations by advising on necessary safety measures, victim support, intersecting with governmental authorities, minimizing liability, communications strategy, pastoral care, and healing for the community.
Below are frequently asked questions that will provide you with a better sense of what to expect when you schedule a case consult.
What is Sacred Spaces’ role and approach to case consultation?
Our role is to provide you with expert guidance in responding to a difficult situation ethically and responsibly. We bring a multi-disciplinary lens to all consultations, helping you to think holistically about the case, with recommendations for: prioritizing the safety of your constituents; supporting victims; reporting to governmental authorities; responsible documentation; minimizing liability and reputational damage; and community healing/restorative justice. We will help you craft a response that centers around Jewish values and the values of your organization. Our recommendations will always prioritize safety and victim support over reputation management, though it is our experience that this prioritization usually results in minimizing damage to the institution as well. It is not always easy to take the steps necessary to respond in this manner, and we will do our best to support you in acting courageously and morally.
What is the structure of a consult?
Consults are comprised of 5 segments:
When is the right time to request a consult?
As soon as possible. This is a challenging time for your organization, and you’ll want to pause for a moment, consult with experts, and ensure that you are doing everything you can to handle the situation responsibly and ethically. Of course we are here to help you at any stage in the process, but our guidance is infinitely more valuable before you’ve set things in motion that potentially cannot be undone or that may inadvertently escalate an already difficult situation.
What medium do you use for case consultations?
Our consultations are conducted via Zoom video conferencing, allowing all parties to see each other face to face and better understand nuances of the case and recommendations, from wherever they may be in the world. Though it is possible to dial-in to the consult via phone, we strongly urge video participation, as experience has shown this to be a better medium for clear conversation on sensitive issues than conference calls with multiple callers, in which critical information can be lost or misunderstood.
Who are the consultants?
The Sacred Spaces consulting team brings decades of expertise in sexual misconduct and offending, trauma-informed support for victims, legal compliance in areas of harassment and sex crimes, and the science behind creating behavioral change in large systems and organizations. Collectively, our consultants’ experience includes policy consultation on preventing sexual offending for governments of countries around the world, running the Manhattan District Attorney’s Child Abuse Unit, and developing comprehensive reform for the Olympics and other major national organizations following sexual abuse tragedies. Our team also brings a deep cultural understanding of faith communities, especially Jewish, having spent years researching how offenders manipulate religious values to perpetrate abuse and how well-intentioned institutional leaders err in responding to allegations. As a result, the consultations and resources we provide include the highest quality recommendations in complicated and fraught areas, and do so in a manner that is interdisciplinary and tailored to the unique needs and reality of Jewish communities.
How many consultants will be on the call?
Case consults are handled by 2-3 Sacred Spaces consultants: with at least one senior expert consultant, and one junior consultant. Much like a teaching-hospital in which senior attendings are paired with residents, this structure enables us not just to provide guidance to the organizations who call us, but to invest in the development of future experts trained specifically in case consultation for the Jewish community. Junior consultants selected to join case consults are themselves professionals in the field with significant experience in the field of abuse/harassment prevention and response.
Our consultants regularly consult, before or after a call, with a multidisciplinary team of attorneys, mental health professionals, policy specialists, governmental agencies, spiritual leaders and others to provide holistic consultation. Occasionally, and depending on the nature of the consult, the Sacred Spaces consulting team will include two senior expert consultants in addition to the junior consultant.
Who from our organization should participate?
At least one individual on the call should have sufficiently detailed information to share about the case. In order to minimize the number of consults necessary you’ll also want to include all of the individuals in your organization who are critical to deciding what steps your organization will take in handling the case. This may include any combination of the following people: president, vice president, CEO, COO, executive director, human resources director, rabbi, assistant rabbi, youth director, program director, in-house counsel, mental health professional involved in the case, communications director and others.
How long are consults?
Most consults can be completed in about an hour’s time. Occasionally there are circumstances (e.g., the complexity of a case or an organization’s governance structure) that necessitate additional time, though even in such cases, consults rarely exceed two hours.
How many consults will we need?
This depends on the situation, who from your organization joins the initial consult, and your desire for guidance. Our consultants can typically advise on the entirety of a case in 1-3 consultations. A typical case might include:
How much does a consult cost?
Consults are $500 per hour. Partial hours are prorated.
Is there any work we should do to prepare for the consult?
It is a good idea to spend some time gathering information before the consult. Try drafting a timeline of events as you know them, including when your organization received the concerning information, and what, if anything, you have done since receiving this information. Don’t get caught up in needing exact dates just yet, even a broad overview will be helpful (e.g., “in late summer we were notified that _____”; five years ago it came to our attention that ______, and we responded by _______”). When possible, indicate how you came to learn of the information included in your timeline. There is no need to identify individuals by name, but it is helpful to have general categories for your sources (e.g., report made to HR; media coverage; witnessed by board member; parent shared concerns). Gathering and organizing this information before the consult will help everyone gain a clearer understanding of the case and make the consult more efficient. Many organizations prefer to email us a copy of this overview in advance, while others share the information verbally on the consult itself.
Do you provide consults for issues other than crisis response?
We regularly provide short-term consultation to guide organizations in the following areas beyond crisis management: how to form an in-house committee to oversee long-term prevention and response efforts; generating buy-in from board, staff, and community; self-assessments; getting started on policy development; working through difficult issues that have arisen in policy development; policy review; policy implementation; developing in-house training; technical assistance; maintenance and evaluation of abuse prevention efforts for the long-term; limited access agreements; victim support; community healing and restorative justice.
Are consults the same as investigations?
No, an investigation is conducted by an independent expert who speaks to the involved parties and witnesses. Case consults, by contrast, provide advice in response to a case summary that you supply. Case consults suggest potential next steps, which may include retaining independent investigators. Because case consults do not involve speaking directly to the complainant or respondent, the advice provided is based only on the information that your organization shares with Sacred Spaces. Therefore, inaccurate or incomplete information will adversely impact the advice you receive.
What are my next steps for arranging a consult?
Click the Contact Us page and fill out the form to request a consult. Our intake office will respond to your inquiry, answer any questions you may have, send you a brief contract to review and sign, and schedule the consult.