Procedures for Adopting Congregational Positions

Approved by the Board of Directors on March 21, 2006

In furtherance of Adat Shalom's Board of Directors' authority and responsibility to act on behalf of the congregation on issues of importance to the congregation and the Jewish community, the Board hereby adopts the following procedures for taking Congregational Positions -- as described in the Congregation's "Tikkun Olam Guidelines" -- to promote social justice and Jewish values.

The Board may consider a Congregational Position upon recommendation of the Social Action Committee, Israel Connection Committee, and/or a member of the clergy. Congregational Positions may be any of the following types:

  1. A written statement expressing the Congregation's view on a current public policy issue;
  2. Participation in a particular one-time policy-oriented event;
  3. Participation in a particular single-issue coalition.

Criteria to Consider in Formulating a Congregational Position

As part of the process toward adopting any Congregational Position, the Social Action Committee, Israel Connection Committee, or a member of the clergy will provide evidence to the Board which demonstrates that:

  1. The Congregational Position is consistent with the congregation's mission, purpose, and values, including whether it:
    1. fosters an environment of social responsibility,
    2. provides leadership in the overall community; and
    3. applies Jewish values to the society in which we live.
  2. The Congregational Position respects the diversity of the congregation and the range of views held by its members.
  3. The positions or resolutions of other Jewish organizations--including but not limited to the Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish Community Relations Council--have been taken into account. Though serious consideration is to be given to the positions of other such Jewish organizations, the Board may adopt a Congregational Position on a subject not addressed by another Jewish organization and/or may adopt a position different from that adopted by another Jewish organization.
  4. There is broad-based congregational support for the Congregational Position.

Factors to Consider in Adopting a Congregational Position

The Board of Directors will apply each of the following criteria when reviewing any request for Board consideration of a Congregational Position:

  1. The issue must be properly brought before the Board (see Procedure below).
  2. The issue must have ethical, moral and/or social significance to the congregation at large.
  3. The subject matter of a proposed Congregational Position must have a direct bearing on the congregation or on the Jewish community, or it must affect the society at large in a way that implicates Jewish values or laws.
  4. In the case of type (A) Congregational Positions only, the Board must determine that such a statement will have a meaningful effect on public debate regarding the issue in question. In the absence of such a determination, the Board should remand the Congregational Position to its sponsors with the instruction to consider whether there is an appropriate single issue coalition on the issue that the congregation can join.
  5. The Board will not take any action that will likely result in disqualifying the synagogue for favorable tax treatment pursuant to Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) or any other similar federal, state, or local law. In that regard, among other things, the Board shall not support or oppose specific candidates running for a public office.

Procedure for Adopting a Congregational Position

There are two procedures for bringing a Congregational Position to the Board for approval: a standard procedure and an expedited procedure.

Standard Procedure

This procedure pertains to Congregational Positions for which time is not a critical factor. The Social Action Committee, Israel Connection Committee, and/or clergy will make a concerted effort to present the Congregational Position to the Congregation, to engage the congregation in a conversation about the issue, and to build broad-based community support. Appropriate means of educating and notifying the congregation about a particular issue and taking its feedback into account shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following:

  1. Publication of the actual text of the proposed Congregational Position and related explanatory material on the Adat Shalom website and listserve;
  2. Publication of this same information in the Scroll (or its web-based successor);
  3. The sponsorship of an open community forum that is announced on the website, listserve, and Scroll (or its web-based successor);
  4. An update and/or modification of the proposed Congregational Position in accordance with feedback received;
  5. Presentation of the proposed Congregational Position to the Board for consideration.

In all of these communications and fora, the proposed Congregational Position's sponsors shall explicitly ask for the input of people who are for, against, and undecided toward the Congregational Position as the Board will use this input in assessing the degree of support within the congregation for the position. At open community fora, people on all sides of the issue shall be given an opportunity to state their views.

Congregants shall be invited to provide feedback directly to either the Social Action Committee, Israel Connection Committee (for issues specifically related to Israel or the Middle East conflict), a member of the clergy, or the Vice-President for Programming. If, in the judgment of the 1) Social Action Committee (or the Israel Connection Committee where appropriate), 2) the member of the clergy and/or 3) the Vice-President for Programming (at least two of these three must agree), the Congregational Position has gained broad-based community support, it may be brought to a Board meeting. Whether this is a regular or special meeting is at the President's or Co-Presidents' discretion. The Social Action Committee, Israel Connection Committee, or member of the clergy shall provide both 1) a summary of their outreach efforts and 2) all community feedback received to the Board for review and consideration. In demonstrating that the Congregational Position commands broad-based support, sponsors must be prepared to show that a substantial number of members favor the proposed course of action and there is a minimum of deep-seated opposition to it. A Congregational Position shall be heard by the Board as soon as is practical considering its relative urgency and other matters on the board's agenda.

When the Board does consider the Congregational Position, it shall require a supermajority vote for approval. The supermajority necessary shall be affirmative votes by 80 percent of the directors in attendance, or 2/3 of the total number of directors sitting on the Board at that time, whichever is greater.

Expedited Procedure

This procedure pertains to Congregational Positions of types A) and B) above for which time is a critical factor, specifically if a decision must be made before the process detailed in the Standard Procedure above could be carrier out (e.g., bringing the Adat Shalom banner to a quickly organized demonstration). The Social Action Committee, Israel Connection Committee, or a member of the clergy must:

  1. Submit it in writing via fax or email to the Vice-President for Programming and the President or Co-Presidents, and, in conjunction with this submittal,
  2. Provide the Congregation, via the listserv, the suggested text of the Congregational Position, and
  3. Explain why action is urgently required, and
  4. Forward any feedback received to the Board for review and consideration.

The Vice-President for Programming and the President or Co-Presidents together shall have sole discretion regarding the decision whether or not the item submitted is of such an urgent nature as to require the use of the expedited procedure. Should these officers differ in their views, the President or Co-Presidents shall seek input from the entire Board. Upon consideration of this input, the final decision shall reside with the President or Co-Presidents. In the event that a particular event or activity is deemed not to merit consideration under the expedited procedure, the Social Action Committee, Israel Connection Committee, or a member of the clergy may submit it using the standard procedure.

Once a determination has been made that the expedited procedure is appropriate, the President or Co-Presidents will distribute the Congregational Position as expeditiously as possible to all Board members. Once the Congregational Position has been distributed, the President or Co-Presidents will then convene the Board at the earliest practicable date. Passage of the Congregational Position will require affirmative votes by 80 percent of the directors in attendance, or 2/3 of the total number of directors sitting on the Board at that time, whichever is greater, except in the case of a written consent, which shall be unanimous, as required by the Adat Shalom bylaws.

Procedure for Rescinding a Congregational Position

The Board may rescind a Congregational Position of type A), B), or C) during any regular or special Board meeting at which a quorum is present and a majority of Board members present and voting vote to do so. In addition, following the end of the third (3rd) anniversary of the adoption of a Congregational Position, the Board, at its next regularly scheduled meeting, shall review and reconsider each such Congregational Position of type A), B), or C) to determine if it should be continued in the same manner or be rescinded. If a majority of the Board members present and voting agrees, it shall continue for successive three (3) year period, subject to a similar review procedure, at the end of each three (3) year period.

The Board shall give reasonable notice to the Social Action Committee] and members of the clergy that such a vote is to take place and shall invite them to take part in the discussion of the issue at the Board meeting (Similar notice shall be provided to the Israel Connection committee for Congregational Positions on matters related to Israel or the Middle East Conflict). At this meeting, the Social Action Committee (or the Israel Connection Committee, where appropriate) and members of the clergy shall be offered the opportunity to report on the impact that the Congregational Position under review has had on the congregation and on the community at-large. < /body>

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