Respect and Responsibility: A Jewish Ethics Study Guide

Respect & Responsibility is a cross-denominational initiative that creates a unifying approach to often divisive issues by drawing on shared Jewish texts. 

Using this lens, readers may find that a particular approach to text study may be common in one community and unfamiliar in another. Authors may engage a text in a way that is different from that which the reader has previously encountered, including in the ways God’s name is written, use of gendered pronouns, and other areas of difference across Jewish denominations. 

Just as we invited different approaches to these texts, we invite the Guide’s users to adapt these source sheets in ways that are comfortable for you and your community. 


Grounding Values

Care of Ourselves, Care of Others, Care of Community: Using This Guide in Trauma-Sensitive Ways by Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg 

Fostering I-Thou Relationships in Jewish Communities by Sharon Levin

Protecting Children — Our Fundamental Moral Responsibility by Rabbi David Ingber

Ruth, Covenant, and Safe Communities by Rabbi Mary Zamore

The Concept of Consent in the Talmud by Rabbi Jeffrey Fox


Leadership, Power, and Responsibility

Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 107a: The Rabbinic “David and Batsheva” Story as Paradigm for Understanding Leaders’ Personal Struggles and Communal Reaction by Dr. Elana Stein Hain

Hidden Curriculum: A Tool for Assessing Institutional Messages about Power by Dr. Shira Epstein 

Must Power Corrupt? Judah, David, and the Bible’s Model Policies for Safeguarding the Public by Judy Klitsner

Popularity, Charisma, and the Teaching Profession by Rabbi Yitzchak Blau

Safety and the Creation of Sacred Spaces: Ancient Models and Contemporary Takeaways by Shira Hecht-Koller and Dr. Aaron Koller 

Solving This Together: Expanding the Principles of Yichud to Prevent Workplace Sexual Harassment and Abuse by Dr. Sharon Weiss-Greenberg with Rabbi Susan P. Fendrick

Vayikra as a Model for Transparent Communal Governance by Dr. Shira Berkovits, Esq., and Rabbi Steven Exler


Responding to Abuse

A Summary of the Laws of T’shuva (Repentance) of Maimonides by Rabbi Yosef Blau

Confronting Institutional Power by Dr. Marjorie Lehman

Pikuach Nefesh and Sexual Abuse by Asher Lovy

Sexual Trauma and Jewish Spirituality and Religious Life by Dr. Hadar Schwartz 

The Imperative to “Pursue Justice” and Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse by Rabbi Rachael Bregman

The Moral and Personal Costs of Abuse by Asher Lovy

The Responsibilities of Bystanders: The Power and Risks of Rebuke by Rabbi Matthew Goldstone and Rabbi Mira Wasserman


Kavanot, Prayers, and Poetry

Poem for Courage to Act Honestly and Compassionately in Repentance by Rabbi Jill Zimmerman

Prayer Acknowledging Our Wrongdoings in Repentance by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg; Dr. Shira Berkovits, Esq.; S. Bear Bergman; and Dr. Guila Benchimol

Prayer for Weighty Discussion


Please check back – additional source sheets will be released here in the coming months.