OU-JLIC Conduct, Policy, and Behavioral Standards Manual (Updated: 3/1/2022)
Behavioral and Conduct Standards: Introduction
OU-JLIC professionals are part of the Orthodox Union (OU) and must follow the OU’s halachic standards. The OU’s mission is to engage, strengthen and lead the Orthodox Jewish Community, and inspire the greater Jewish community. OU-JLIC professionals are encouraged to know the history of the OU and what the organization represents within Orthodox Judaism.
OU-JLIC, Hillel, and the Orthodox Union strive to create an environment in which university participants and OU-JLIC professionals, and Hillel Professionals can relate with each other and interact in a safe and appropriate environment to the benefit of all. Everyone actively involved with OU-JLIC is expected to contribute toward creating a positive atmosphere so that Jewish participants on campus may flourish.
To achieve these goals, all OU-JLIC professionals are expected to adhere to the following guidelines. This policy applies to all OU-JLIC operations and programs, as well as to contacts between OU- JLIC staff and participants that take place outside the context of OU-JLIC.
OU-JLIC’s commitment to the physical, psychological, and emotional well-being of all OU-JLIC professionals, Hillel professionals and participants with whom they work is absolute. In both word and deed, all staff involved with OU-JLIC will comport themselves according to Halakhic standards. OU-JLIC professionals are also expected to comport themselves according to whatever standards govern the local Hillel Foundation within which they work.
Finally, any mention of OU-JLIC in this document incorporates any programs or professionals functioning under OU-JLIC auspices, such as, but not limited to, Yavneh, and OU-JLIC’s various summer programs.
Halacha (Jewish Law) must be observed by all OU-JLIC staff. Living in accordance with Halakha is a prerequisite to their employment and involvement.
All Halakhot barring physical contact with the opposite gender (“Negiah”) must be observed. NOTE: Physical contact between members of the opposite gender is prohibited except to protect or safeguard someone in immediate physical danger, or to protect or safeguard property from immediate danger. This also includes protecting the dignity of someone who is not familiar with these rules such greeting with a handshake.
OU-JLIC also upholds the Halakhic standard of Yichud at all times. As such, OU-JLIC expects professionals to avoid all activities and situations that leave two members of the opposite gender alone, even when the technical violation of Hilkhot Yichud is not involved.
While respect for one another can be communicated by gesture and tone of voice, language is the most powerful tool for conveying it. Consequently, “Nekiyut Halashon,” cleanliness of language, serves as the standard that should guide all OU-JLIC professionals. Words should be chosen regarding their impact upon the listener, and should confirm his or her sense of self-worth.
OU-JLIC professionals are expected to comport themselves with dress/clothing that are appropriate for their position as Rabbinical/Jewish role-models and representatives of the Orthodox Union. For example, professionals’ clothing should be clean, neatly pressed and presentable. Beards, facial hair should be well groomed and not unkempt. Female professionals, when not in private, are expected to wear clothing that cover the knees and elbows and reach to the neck bone. They are not allowed to wear pants. In addition, married female professionals are required to cover their hair according to halachic guidelines. Male professionals, in the normal course of business, are expected to wear pants (rather than shorts) and shirts with collars, Kippot and Tzitzit. At all times both male and female professionals should be dressed and comport themselves in a professional manner. OU-JLIC dress codes also apply to pictures and videos posted on social media.
Reporting Obligation and Protocol For Suspected Boundary Crossing Behaviors
All OU-JLIC professionals must report all violations or suspected violations of the Boundary Guidelines as soon as reasonably possible. This is the case whether the OU-JLIC professional observes the behavior themselves, suspects that the behavior occurred or is occurring, or hears about such behavior from a third party. Oftentimes, boundaries are crossed inadvertently and require nothing more than a reminder to the offender to maintain such a boundary in the future. At other times, however, the crossing of a boundary may be indicative of a more serious problem and/or an inappropriate relationship. Therefore, all OU-JLIC professionals, must report any suspected violations of these Boundary Guidelines, whether they observe the behavior themselves, suspect that the behavior is occurring or heard about such behavior from a third party.
Reports should be made to OU’s outside reporting hotline (866-57THEOU [8-4368])
If an OU-JLIC professional or participant chooses to report to Rabbi Ilan Haber, or Rabbi Josh Ross, they can take the report and thereafter make the report to the OU’s outside reporting hotline or notify the OU’s General Counsel.
Boundary violations that occur in cases of emergencies, such as to protect OU-JLIC participants from physical harm, should be reported to Rabbi Josh Ross (RossJ@ou.org) as soon as possible and documented by the OU-JLIC Professional who violated the boundary.
These Boundary Guidelines are not applicable if the OU-JLIC Professional is the parent, guardian, or sibling of the participant in question. However, all OU-JLIC Professionals must remain mindful of their interactions with any participant, even their own child(ren) or friends of their own child(ren), in and outside of OU-JLIC. Those OU-JLIC Professionals with family members in OU-JLIC should reach out to their supervisor with any questions regarding this policy.
Finally, it should be acknowledged that there may be exceptional circumstances in which it would not be inappropriate to cross one of the boundary lines set out above. Should any employee ever feel that a situation has arisen that calls for or justifies deviation from the boundary guidelines set out above, he or she must bring it to the attention of Rabbi Josh Ross and/or Rabbi Ilan Haber and obtain permission to proceed under modified guidelines.
Once a Boundary violation has been reported, it will be directed to the OU General Counsel Rachel Sims at 646.689.2104 or email@example.com and the Chief Human Resources Officer, Rabbi Lenny Bessler at 1.212.613.8120 or firstname.lastname@example.org . OU-JLIC Leadership including Board Chairs and the EVP office will also be notified, and a determination will be made as to whether it requires an internal or external fact-finding. During the course of the fact finding if at any time, what is related and or subsequently discovered rises to the level of suspected criminal activity, including any and all forms of abuse, law enforcement will be notified.
Boundary Guidelines For Appropriate Interactions Between OU-JLIC Staff and Participants
OU-JLIC is committed to ensuring the well-being, safety, and protection of each of its participants as well as the OU-JLIC couples who work and volunteer at OU-JLIC. In light of the influence, power and trust inherent in relationships between participants and Professionals who work at OU-JLIC, OU-JLIC believes it is important to set forth guidelines to help define appropriate behavior and conduct to cultivate a safe and positive environment for all those who work and spend time with participants and at OU-JLIC or Hillel events. OU-JLIC believes it is important that everyone in its community maintain the highest level of professionalism. The following guidelines, in conjunction with the OU-JLIC’s policies on harassment, will define appropriate behavior and the appropriate boundaries between OU-JLIC couples and participants.
In addition to the prohibited behavior described in the OU-JLIC Harassment Policy, OU-JLIC employees should always endeavor to avoid any behavior that might have the appearance of impropriety with any participants on or off-campus. To that end, the following guidelines have been established:
- OU-JLIC professionals may not engage in any type of behavior that might have the appearance of impropriety.
- OU-JLIC professionals should always remember that they are not the participants’ “friend” and should refrain from engaging in overly-familiar and peer-like behavior.
- OU-JLIC professionals, as a general rule, should not be alone 1:1 with a participant in a non-public space or a room with a closed door. OU-JLIC professionals and participants should always interact in a manner where they are both observable and interruptible.
- Even in a public area, OU-JLIC professionals should not be alone with a participant during late-night or all-night programs (such as Shavuot).
- It is understood that OU-JLIC staff may meet with participants for growth and educational purposes of campus and outside of official OU-JLIC program time and that some of those meetings will involve one-on-one meetings. Any such private meeting with a participant should, whenever possible, occur with the door open. If the circumstances require the door to be closed because additional privacy is needed, the meeting should be in a room with a window in the door that should remain uncovered and the door to the room should remain unlocked.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not address participants by nicknames, unless explicitly requested to by the participant and when the nickname is not of an inappropriate nature. Nor should the OU-JLIC address the participant by any name with which makes the participant, or a third-party, uncomfortable.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not lavish attention on a particular participant, including, as a general rule, the giving of gifts. There may be circumstances when a gift is warranted, such as with regard to a simcha or as token of appreciation for a particular favor. If there is any question about the appropriateness of a gift, the OU-JLIC Educator should seek guidance from their OU-JLIC supervisor.
- OU-JLIC professionals should not converse with a participant or participants about the participant’s sexual life, with the exception of discussions regarding Kallah and Chattan Classes and conversations in the context of and for pastoral counseling and/or wedding preparations. If unsure as to the appropriateness of addressing such a topic with a participant, the OU-JLIC professional should seek guidance from their OU-JLIC supervisor.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not reveal details of their own sexual lives or romantic relationships to participants.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not reveal other inappropriate or overly familiar details about their personal lives to participants.
- OU-JLIC professionals, at their discretion, can invite participants to their homes. However, there must be another adult/participant present, and it must be for a specific purpose such as Chavruta or counseling. They should meet the participant(s) only in the common areas of the home rather than private areas, such as a bedroom. For any extenuating circumstances, you must first speak with your supervisor.
- OU-JLIC professionals may never visit a participant’s residence (suite/apartment) without the presence of another adult. In addition, they should never enter the private area of a participant’s home such as a bedroom or dormitory room where one sleeps.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not date or engage in a romantic or sexual relationship with any participant.
- OU- JLIC professionals may not provide any sexually explicit material to a participant.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not provide illicit substances, nor permit participants to use illicit substances in their presence, except when medications have been prescribed. In terms of alcohol, the following guidelines apply:
- OU-JLIC shall not provide alcohol to anyone under legal drinking age. one exception is that wine can be provided under supervision for sacramental purposes in their home only (such as Friday night Kiddush). Where appropriate OU-JLIC professionals may run events with alcohol when all attendees are known to be over 21 (such as a senior wine and cheese party).
- Where halachically appropriate an OU-JLIC professionals can attend an event where alcohol is served whereby a different authority is legally responsible for distribution of alcohol (such as a trivia pub night, or a “beer and shiur” in an appropriate location).
- Under no circumstances should an OU-JLIC professionals provide alcohol at Simchat Torah or Purim, even if the participants are of legal drinking age.
Social Media and Electronic Communication
- OU-JLIC professionals may only email participants from the professional’s work email address. OU-JLIC professionals should never email participants from any personal email address that they maintain.
- If a participant sends a communication to an OU-JLIC professional containing any concerning sexual information, inappropriate material or intention for self-harm or to harm others, the OU-JLIC professional must immediately notify their OU-JLIC and Hillel supervisor.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not communicate with participants past 12 AM (midnight). This applies to calls, video chat, texting and social media platforms. This does not apply to an emergency or crisis situation.
- OU-JLIC professionals should not communicate by video chat while in a bedroom or bathroom, and when communicating, they must be fully clothed. However, if the only available location is a bedroom, all professionals must be mindful to move the camera so that their bed and anything personal or private are not in view or use a virtual background.
- OU-JLIC professionals should use caution when posting anything on their personal social media page or online communication, whether public or private.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not interact with OU-JLIC participants on any social media platform that erases the record of the communication, such as Snapchat.
- OU-JLIC professionals should only follow, accept or send a “friend request” to participants with whom they are personally acquainted.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not discipline participants in any physical manner.
- OU-JLIC professionals may engage in physical contact when necessary to protect a participant from harming himself/herself or another.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not have extended physical contact with a participant. Permitted contact can include a supportive or congratulatory quick hug, arm squeeze, or pat on the back when it is clear that this will not make the participant, or a third party, uncomfortable. Patting of the buttocks with a hand or object, even in an athletic context, is prohibited.
- If a participant engages in repeated and/or prolonged physical contact with a OU-JLIC professional, the professional in question should clearly and firmly discourage such behavior, and if the participant persists, the professional should involve an OU-JLIC administrator to assist him or her in handling the the situation.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not engage in physical horseplay, roughhousing, tickling, or other inappropriate games with any participant.
- OU-JLIC professionals should not ride alone with a participant in the professional’s personal car after 10pm. In cases of an emergency, your OU-JLIC supervisor should notified immediately after the fact.
- OU-JLIC professionals may not share a room or bed with participants.
- OU-JLIC couple must ensure that any participant sleeping over at their house has a private bedroom to sleep in.
- OU-JLIC professionals should not be alone 1:1 with a participant in his/her room and should not be inside a participant’s room when the participant is changing or sleeping (even if there are other people present).
- OU-JLIC professionals may not be in a locked room with a participant.
- Participants may be awakened by loudly knocking on their doors or calling out to them but should not be awakened by making physical contact with them. In the event of a medical emergency or if the OU-JLIC professional suspects ingestion of illicit substances or alcohol, and the participant is perceived to be in danger, this condition should be waived.
- OU-JLIC professionals should not appear in any state of immodesty or undress in front of Thus, if participants are sleeping over at an OU-JLIC Couples’ home, OU- JLIC professionals should not walk around outside of their bedroom when not fully clothed.
Mikvah and Locker Rooms
OU-JLIC professionals may not be present where a participant is undressing or in a state of undress in a mikvah preparation room or the mikvah itself. If a professional is accompanying a bride or a participant for conversion they must wait in the waiting room for the duration of the participants use of the mikvah. OU-JLIC professionals may not be present where a participant is using showers, locker rooms, or other changing facilities.
Familial Boundaries and Hero Worship
- OU-JLIC professionals must be especially careful not to allow a participant’s occasional tendency toward “hero worship” to be transformed into an unhealthy relationship with an OU-JLIC professional. OU-JLIC professionals must be sensitive to such situations as they develop and should endeavor to see that participants are referred to the appropriate resources for assistance in dealing with them.
- OU-JLIC professionals must work to maintain and ultimately enhance participant relationships with and respect for their parents.
- OU-JLIC professionals should maintain respect for and encourage diversity of guidance in those participants for whom they serve as mentors.
Misconduct Between Participants
Participating in OU-JLIC, be it in person at a program or event or virtually through an online platform, is a privilege and therefore a standard of participant behavior must be upheld. OU- JLIC participants have a responsibility to conduct themselves properly at all times with other OU-JLIC participants and professionals. OU-JLIC participants are expected to treat both OU-JLIC professionals and OU-JLIC participants respectfully. OU-JLIC reserves the right to limit the participation of any participant in any OU-JLIC activity if there is sufficient reason to believe a particular potential participant lacks the ability or willingness to follow directions and instructions required for OU-JLIC event participation.1
OU-JLIC further believes in healthy and safe peer interactions, as everyone deserves to feel protected and respected. Therefore, at all OU-JLIC affiliated programs, events, shabbatons and trips, including transportation to and from OU-JLIC affiliated programs, and in connection with electronic communication between participants, OU-JLIC will take appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including removal from OU-JLIC and all affiliated programs, if any participant engages in criminal behavior, including sexual assault or abuse of any other OU-JLIC participant.
Bullying, Hazing, Harassment, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, and consensual sexual activity is incompatible with OU-JLIC’s goals and standards and is therefore always prohibited, whether it occurs in person, on the phone, online, or via any other medium.
OU-JLIC strives to create a healthy environment where each person, regardless of sex or gender is treated with dignity and respect. OU-JLIC will not tolerate any physical or verbal objectification of its participants. Any activities that involve “rating” individuals, creating lists of “conquests” or venerating “hook-up culture” will not be tolerated.
In addition, violence or threatening behavior, smoking or vaping, possession and/or use of alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs and controlled substances or weapons (such as guns, switchblades, sharpened box cutters, and sharpened screwdrivers) are always prohibited.2
1 OU-JLIC is also committed to reasonably accommodate those participants with special needs, including those who can only attend selected parts of an event or program due to disabilities.
2 OU-JLIC professionals shall be sensitive as to which breaches of standards indicate the need to refer the problem to outside professional resources for further resolution.
- Bullying: any form of physical, verbal, demonstrative, or electronic harassment that one should reasonably expect would demean, threaten or physically or emotionally hurt its victims or others in the OU-JLIC Community. It can be of a sexual nature or otherwise. It can take place in person, over the phone, through online communication, or any other means that communicates such harassment. It can be one-on-one, or group based. Both adults and children can be bullied or be the bully.
- pushing, tripping, kicking, or hitting; threats of physical harm
- damaging, hiding, taking of property
- excluding from a group or activity purposely to hurt and/or advocating others to dislike a person
- calling someone offensive or demeaning names
- scapegoating, pranks resulting/intending to embarrass
- innuendoes with derogatory implications
- making jokes involving offensive stereotypes
- attacking a person’s self-esteem by making them feel vulnerable or bad about themselves.
- posting online mean, offensive, demeaning, or embarrassing comments or images, regardless of whether you feel the target has invited such behavior in some manner
- texting, whether individually or as a group, mean, offensive, demeaning, or embarrassing comments or images
- creating fake web pages or fake profiles or assuming another’s identity in any social media context to create content likely to cause embarrassment or concern spreading mean and hurtful rumors verbally, online or via graffiti
- taunting others about their actual or perceived age; physical development; socio-economic status; sex; gender; sexual orientation; bodily functions; actual or perceived race, color, or national origins.
- Hazing is defined as any activity expected of someone joining a group or expected of someone to maintain any status in a group, that: (1) humiliates, (2) degrades, or (3) risks emotional and/or physical harm or embarrassment to the individual or the OU-JLIC community, regardless of the person’s willingness to participate and regardless of its intended result or effect.
- Examples: Requiring someone to:
- drink alcohol, vape or use drugs
- consume any inappropriate or hazardous substances, or allow such substance to be smeared on the body
- endure any physical striking, beating, burning, branding or to engage in self-mutilation or to commit such acts upon another
- endure acts of sexual stimulation or sexual abuse/assault
- be subjected to abusive and demeaning speech
- participate in acts of personal servitude
- proceed through a gauntlet, e.g., on a bus, or any form of public transportation to arrive at a location
- suffer sleep deprivation
- restrict personal hygiene
- engage in indecent exposure
- participate in any illegal activity
- participate in physically dangerous activities such as exposing oneself to extreme weather conditions without appropriate protection
- submit to being tied up or abducted or blindfolded
- engage in any degrading or humiliating act, or any activity that violates any aspect of the OU’s Anti-Harassment Policy
- Examples: Requiring someone to:
- Harassment: When the verbal or nonverbal acts of another are either severe or pervasive, or targeted at specific person that it prevents that participant from participating in OU-JLIC or OU-JLIC related program or intimidates them because of their sex, gender or identity or significantly harms
- This also includes Sexual Harassment which is defined as any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, which can take place in person or through electronic communication and can include verbal, non-verbal, physical or written interactions.
- Examples include but are not limited to: Physical and verbal threats; cyberbullying; physical acts such as pushing, punching, kicking or hitting; damaging another’s property; calling someone offensive or demeaning names; texting sexual images or jokes and creating fake social media profiles
- Sexual Abuse and Assault: physical conduct or contact with a sexual or intimate part of the body without consent. It includes various forms of sexual intercourse as well as sexual touching and exposure.
- Sexual or intimate body parts include, but are not limited to breasts, buttocks, genitals, and upper thighs.
- Lack of consent occurs when one is physically forced or verbally intimidated into doing something sexual, or submitting to a sexual act, or when one has explicitly indicated a lack of consent or when the circumstances make it obvious that consent has not been given.
- Circumstances that make it obvious that consent has not been given include, but are not limited to:
- being too intoxicated to say “no” or resist,
- being asleep and therefore unable to consent, or
- situations in which someone is deemed to be physically or mentally incapable of giving valid consent, whether due to the use of intoxicants or any other reason.
- The age of consent varies by state and country.
- Examples include but are not limited to:
- Grabbing, pinching, or fondling another person’s buttocks, breasts or genital area, whether over or under the clothing, without consent as defined
- Rubbing one’s genital area up against another person, whether over or under clothing, without consent as defined above
- Touching another person with one’s genitals without consent as defined above
- Engaging in sexual behavior with someone too intoxicated to give informed consent
- Physically or verbally intimidating someone to engage in a sex act, whether done expressly or implicitly
Reporting Protocol For OU-JLIC participant misconduct
If a participant feels unsafe at an OU-JLIC event, whether because of the actions of another participant or staff, they should immediately report to:
- OU’s OUTSIDE REPORTING HOTLINE at (866-57THEOU [8-4368])
- OU-JLIC’s National Director, Rabbi Ilan Haber (email@example.com) and Deputy Director, Rabbi Josh Ross (RossJ@OU.org)
All OU-JLIC professionals and participants must as soon as reasonably possible report any suspected incidents of bullying, hazing, harassment, sexual harassment, abuse or assault to the OU-JLIC National Director, Rabbi Ilan Haber (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Deputy Director, Rabbi Josh Ross (email@example.com).