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A Jewish Communal Professional’s Code of Ethics


by Jane Shapiro of Jane Shapiro Associates

Former Brandeis University professor Bernie Reisman passed away last week.  His work and vision were an inspiration to many Jewish professionals the world over, and in his memory we offer this piece…

A Jewish Communal Professional’s Code of Ethics

In my professional practice I will seek to:

Answer all phone calls within 24 hours.

Answer all letters within three days.

Make sure there are introductions at the start of all meetings and social occasions.

Make sure to summarize at the end of meetings, both what occurred and steps which are needed for follow-up.

Personally greet and help connect strangers who enter groups of which I am a part.

Give recognition to people for their special achievements as well as for their consistent and dependable performance.

Be diligent about monitoring my own ego and ways it gets in the way of my empowering others to grow and assume responsibility.

Seek to risk and be creative rather than to be conservative and cautious.

Do my homework in preparing for all meetings and programs in terms of a clear agenda, knowledge of the issues and the participants.

Be prompt and thorough in following up on all decisions arrives at in meetings where I am the professional.

Concentrate on learning and using people’s name.

Start and end meetings on time.

Demonstrate a commitment to pluralism in Jewish life with respect for the several religious denominations and other ways Jews identify with the community.

Be a “boundary crosser” someone who sees the “larger picture” and rises about parochial identifications to broader perspectives: beyond the department to the total agency; beyond the agency to the Jewish community, beyond denominational or ideological loyalties to concern for K’Lal Yisrael.

Concentrate on listening to people in an open and non-judgmental fashion.

Be attentive to my own psychological and physical well-being so that when I am at work I have available optimal physical and emotional energy.

Think of my Jewish communal organization not as another large, impersonal organization, but as a “surrogate family” highlighting warm and caring relationships.

Seek to create a culture in my Jewish organization which stresses active participation and collaboration among several elements of the organization: members, professional and other staff, and board members.

Finally, I am a role model. I am aware that I will have my greatest professional impact on the people with whom I work based on the caring and disciplined manner in which I conduct myself, both professionally and as a Jew.

-Bernard Reisman

What do you find most inspiring about this code of ethics?  What would you add?

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