Why won’t JOFA give up on NDA’s? (updated-4/10/22)

See update note at bottom

Until today, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) of north America* was a member of the SRE Network (Safety, Respect and Equity). SRE was created in response to the #MeToo movement to promote collaboration and funding for fighting sex abuse and harassment in the North American Jewish world by bringing concerned organizations together to create common standards and collaborate in other ways including access to funding. 

Yesterday, JOFA was on the SRE website as an affiliate. With no explanation, they are not on the listing today. Hmm!

The best guess is that JOFA either removed itself or was removed because of the only recently announced change at SRE, its policy about Non Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s). An NDA is a clause in a settlement of a damages claim for sex abuse or harassment that forces the survivor to not say anything about the harm to which they were subjected. They perpetuate abuse by allowing the offender  to have their misconduct concealed. This allows them to do the same thing over and over, each new victim not being alert to the danger. NDA’s also hinder organizational responsibility. Best practice is to admit your problems and move forward to prevent them happening again. But with NDA’s you instead get coverups and leaders who having become complicit in cover ups resist future steps to address the problem. 

Until a few days ago, SRE had no policy against NDA’s. But on April 5, 2022 they issued their statement on Non-Disclosure Agreements. It included this language:

In light of concerns raised regarding NDAs and other employment agreements, we recommend organizations take steps to evaluate their existing policies and practices, specifically to ensure:

1) Any and all agreements that contain confidentiality clauses make clear such clauses are not intended to prevent victim-survivors from coming forward to report abuse or misconduct through the appropriate channels.

2) Previously executed agreements with confidentiality clauses are not used to prevent victim-survivors from coming forward to report past or recent abuse or misconduct through the appropriate channels.

And presto, within 48 hours, JOFA is no longer a member of SRE. 

One can’t help suspecting that JOFA has forced folks to sign NDA’s and is intent on continuing to enforce them and perhaps writing new ones. If I were a constituent of the organization I would be disturbed and would be demanding answers about why a feminist organization which trumpets its embrace of #MeToo is so retrograde. As a feminist or any sort of mensch I would be disturbed because this policy flys in the face of the needs of survivors of abuse and harassment. If I were a reporter I would see a story begging to be uncovered.

If I were a constituent of the organization I would be contacting their officers asking them to change their policy. Below is a list of their board members** and officers

  • Rabba Dr. Carmella Abraham
  • Allie Alperovich (Executive Committee)
  • Roselyn Bell
  • Dr. Giti Bendheim
  • Illana Benson (Executive Committee)
  • Rachel Berke (Treasurer)
  • Sarah Blechner
  • Behnam Dayanim
  • Carolyn Hochstadter Dicker 
  • Paula Eiselt
  • Dr. Sylvia Barack Fishman
  • Dr. Laura Shaw Frank
  • ​Blu Greenberg (Founding President)**
  • Liat Greenwood Chernoff (Executive Committee)
  • Pam Greenwood
  • Dr. Mindy Feldman Hecht  (Executive Committee)
  • Judy Heicklen (Past President)**
  • Evan Hochberg
  • Michael Kellman
  • Gail Katz
  • Dr. Monique Katz
  • Batya Levin 
  • Tamar Lindenbaum
  • Carol Kaufman Newman (Past President)**
  • Ann Pava (Executive Committee)
  • Pam Scheininger (President) (pam.scheininger@jofa.org)
  • Dr. Noam Stadlan
  • Abigail Tambor
  • Audrey Axelrod Trachtman

*JOFA UK is a separate organization from the North American JOFA, with a seperate board and does not have the same NDA policies.

**All past presidents are on the current board except Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus

UPDATE 4-10-22, 5pm EST: Asher Lovy posted a whining letter from JOFA President Pam Scheininger to SRE Network president Elana Wien complaining about being kicked out of SRE.

4 thoughts on “Why won’t JOFA give up on NDA’s? (updated-4/10/22)

  1. Have there been allegations against JOFA, by employees, of Sexual Abuse or harassment? I never heard about any.

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