The designation of “Rabbi” is far more than a title or a job; it represents a life committed to the fundamental precepts of Judaism and a dedication to serving our communities with honesty, sincerity and with an ethical behavior appropriate to all human beings in this world.
To that end, we freely adopt the following ethical code of standards with the purpose of explaining our professional and communal behavioral principles.
I. Fundamentals of Jewish Morality
A. All human beings are created in God’s image and have within them a divine spark. Regardless of provenance, therefore, all people regardless of faith, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexual orientation and creed are deemed to have a unique and limitless value.
B. The role of rabbi implies a covenant not only between us, as rabbis and God, but between us and the world we live in. This role encompasses elements of teacher, counselor, leader and protector. Even if we are not engaged in a professional role where each of these is present, they are always present in the minds of the people we interact with. We must constantly keep this plurality of our character in mind.
II. General Principles
A. We are symbols both within and outside of the Jewish community and must endeavor to set positive examples with our speech and behavior. We must, therefore, endeavor to avoid “ma-arit ayin,” the appearance of impropriety.
B. We must always act with integrity and with the best interests of our community at large, and/or the specific individual we are working with, at heart.
C. Rabbis are afforded a special place in an individual’s regard, we hold a sacred trust, and therefore we must respect a person’s confidentiality at all times. In the event that harm to self or others is involved, a rabbi must act in a fashion to protect life and prevent harm.
D. We owe ourselves the same respect and obligations that we owe to our communities. Our health, physical and mental should not be neglected, our family relationships must be nurtured, and our spiritual growth should be cultivated. It is incumbent upon us to remember that learning is a life-long process, not a goal.
E. Judaism has for centuries subscribed to the principle of “D’mal-chuta Dina” (the law of the land governs –i.e. secular law is binding). As rabbis we must uphold the law and be cognizant of the policies and practices that surround us. We need not to be neutral as regards politics, but neither should we allow a political opinion to sway our relationship with our community and/or individual members thereof.
Perfection is not a rabbinic goal, and we recognize that honest missteps are bound to happen; nonetheless, we must be vigilant with ourselves and each other to stay on the ethical path. If we are witness to a violation of this code or in personal violation of it, we must act to alert JSLI of the infraction, and if need be, take action to remedy it.
We must strive to hold ourselves accountable to these ethical precepts, and to sustain each other in upholding the sanctity and respect of the rabbinical tradition.
JSLI reserves the right to withdraw support for the Semicha/Ordination of any rabbi who is in violation of our ethical precepts.
Approved by JSLI Board of Directors March 29, 2012
PROCESS FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE JSLI COESTATEMENT OF PURPOSE
The JSLI Code of Ethics is meant to guide the behavior of our students and rabbinic graduates and constitutes the Institute’s moral foundation. Where there is an alleged violation by either a student, graduate or employee of the Institute, the following process shall apply in keeping with JSLI’s commitment to Jewish Law and Justice as well as the precepts that underscore American Jurisprudential conceptions of due process.
*For purposes of this document, "faculty shall mean any person who is a full-time member of the rabbinic or cantorial schools or has a long term contract with the Institute. Long-term shall mean a contract of three years or more."Individual Rights of the Subject of the Bet Din: The rights are as follows:
While hearsay is permitted as evidence, a finding of a violation that may result in either rescission of endorsement or a letter of warning, as defined in VI, the Bet Din’s determination must be supported by either first-hand knowledge of the violation(s) or circumstantial evidence supported by first hand knowledge.
Approved by JSLI Board of Directors April 30, 2012