The earth moves under our feet as we hear one allegation of sexual misconduct after another. News anchors. Hollywood producers. Judges, senators, and presidents, among others; and these are just the famous ones. How many more may exist relatively unknown, except sadly to their victim(s)? Thankfully, the #metoo movement marks a wave of seismic courage by those violated, who are finally standing up and boldly saying: “Enough is enough: no more secrets; no more pretending; no more abuse.”
I was approached recently by David Fleischman, the co-president of our Brotherhood, about a broader conversation about sexual misconduct and its prevention. I’d like for our community to consider the most effective and healthy approach. I hope you agree.
On one level, the conversation is not so complicated because one essential prescription for sexual misconduct prevention is mentschlikeit, “Keep being decent people.” Journalist Erin Keane writes, “Maybe be more vocal about your expectations for men and your support for those who have been abused and harassed while their grievances are being taken seriously for once. You’ll be fine.” https://www.salon.com/2017/11/13/wont-someone-please-think-of-the-men/
On another level, though, the conversation is quite complex because it will uncover emotional vulnerabilities and spiritual deficits that require long-ignored attention and healing for all involved--victims and perpetrators; bystanders and upstanders; and human beings of all genders and ages.
By the way, much like our Sisterhood does great work to serve the spiritual needs of women, and just as our religious school is beginning to embrace the spiritual needs of parents and grandparents, our Brotherhood could provide a safe and inspiring place for men to address their own spiritual needs, whatever they may be. It is not enough to pursue such spiritual growth with words from the bimah or this online platform. Emanuel Congregation exists to prepare each person in our sacred community to confront the moral maladies and spiritual malaise that too often mark our lives.
I am thankful for many things during this season of thanks; but I am most grateful for the capacity God gives each of us to make a difference, whether it’s confronting and preventing sexual misconduct or some other pursuit of justice and mentschlikeit.
On behalf of Betsy, Cara, and Jared, I wish each of you a happy Thanksgiving!