JCPA Guidlines for Community Events


To help ensure a civil and productive conversation, we remind everyone here, speakers as well as audience members, that we gather as a community to discuss and debate, but not to degrade. Our goal is a civil and constructive discussion.

This goal has deep roots and support in Torah and our community’s traditions. Our Sages understood and appreciated the fruit of arguments that were conducted l’shem Shamayim, “for the sake of Heaven.” They fervently believed that great minds, engaged in earnest seeking and questioning, could find better and richer solutions to the problems they faced. They refrained from insisting on uniformity. They sought to preserve and thereby honor the views of the minority as well as the majority. This they did through the great teaching, Eilu v’elu divrei Elokim chayim, “both these and those are the words of the living God.”

To honor this tradition, we therefore remind everyone of the following guidelines:

  1. Please show every speaker the respect you would expect others to show you when you speak. Listen to them and let them complete their thought before responding.
  2. Please focus your remarks on the issue at hand, and avoid personal attack.
  3. Please remember that we become a stronger community by considering a diverse range of views. Therefore, no single individual should dominate the discussion.
  4. Please speak to others as you would wish to be spoken to. Those who speak have a special responsibility to put forward ideas in a manner which focuses on the issue at hand and challenges the intellect, but not the person who gives voice to an opposing view.

The choice of words and images in remarks has the power to either inspire passion or create provocation. We affirm the advice of our sages– to choose one’s words carefully lest they assault the other rather than convince.