How to Bring the Brit Olam to your Congregation:
A Step by Step Instruction Guide
Todah rabah for working with your congregation’s Board to sign the Brit Olam, a Covenant with our World! Our hope is that the signing of each Brit will serve as the culmination of a thorough process of meaningful discussion and deliberation among congregational leaders at the board and clergy/staff levels.
We believe that signing onto the Brit Olam will help your congregation advance your justice goals, reinforce for your board and congregation the important justice work you are already doing, inspire you to engage in new efforts such as joining one of the RAC’s Urgency of Now campaigns and affirm the Jewish values that transcend partisan politics.
Some things to know about the Brit Olam:
- The Brit Olam communicates Jewish values, not partisan values. In a year that has upturned political conventions and affected the way current events are discussed in congregations, the Brit Olam is a way of re-centering the conversation in congregations around our Jewish values. This is an opportunity for congregational boards to take a collective breath, to demonstrate a culture of “sacred and civil dialogue,” to give space to truly listen to each other, and, at the end of the day, to not be afraid to talk about current events. Our Jewish values have implications in the public square, and your congregation can be a leader in demonstrating how these values are nonpartisan.
- You can use Brit Olam to clarify and communicate with your Board and then your entire congregation the social justice work that you are already engaged in. When you sign onto the Brit, we’d love to learn about all of the work that your congregation is doing!
- You can sign the Brit Olam even if you are not planning to join one of the current Urgency of Now campaigns. The Brit Olam is designed to be aspirational and developmental and to allow you to celebrate the sacred justice work you are focused on as a congregation. While this may include participating in one of our campaigns, it is not required.
- You can use Brit Olam to recruit new leaders. The Brit Olam can be used as a tool to form a team within your congregation to engage in meaningful action. For example, if your social action/social justice committee is not active or is in need of new energy, you can use discussing and signing onto the Brit as an opportunity to recruit new leaders and reinvigorate this committee. Additionally, by becoming a Brit Olam congregation, social justice leaders in your congregation will receive training and support from the Religious Action Center.
How to Begin the Process of Signing onto the Brit Olam:
- Read through the Brit Olam and learn more about the Urgency of Now Initiative.
- You know your leadership best. Be prepared. In advance of the conversation with your congregational leadership, consider having one-to-one conversations with essential clergy and lay leaders to ensure that they understand what the Brit Olam is and the value in signing onto it.
- If you have a social action/social justice committee, it may be helpful for them to review and discuss the Brit Olam as a first step. If the chair of that committee will be a part of the larger conversation with your Board you may want to consider having that chairperson be one of the lay leaders that signs the Brit Olam on behalf of your congregation.
- Present the Brit Olam at an upcoming Board meeting: Each congregation will likely differ in their approach to discussion and ultimately vote on the Brit Olam, but we suggest that you begin with one of our text studies below to root your conversation in Jewish values and teachings.
a. If your social action/social justice committee previously voted on adopting the Brit Olam, it may be a good idea to have some of them at the meeting to present the document and answer questions.
b. It might also be helpful to discuss the Brit Olam over two separate meetings. Ideally, you will gain consensus around signing onto the Brit followed by an announcement to your congregation at large that your congregation is now a Brit Olam congregation.
c. Depending on your culture, you may also want to build in a way for the congregation at large to weigh in before the Board votes on the Brit.
- Sign the document: Once the proper group of people in your congregation (the Board or otherwise) has voted or approved the Brit Olam, it is time to sign it! An editable version of the Brit Olam can be found here. Each congregation should have at least one clergy member (if your community has one) and two lay leaders signed on to lead your community in one or more of the following options displayed on the Brit Olam document. It is okay to have more than three signatures on the Brit Olam. Please make sure to include everyone’s contact information (email and phone number). While you are encouraged to join one of our three Urgency of Now campaigns (Transgender Rights and Protections, Immigrant Justice, and Criminal Justice Reform), this is not required to become a Brit Olam congregation. The only requirement is that your congregation is committed to engaging in meaningful, focused and actionable social justice work that is grounded in the sacred and enduring Jewish values that guide our Movement. This can be achieved by checking off and committing to at least one of the boxes included on the Brit Olam!
- Submit your Brit Olam to the Religious Action Center: You can submit your signed Brit Olam by scanning and uploading it through this online form. If you would like to be displayed on our website as a Brit Olam congregation, please also upload a high-resolution file of your congregation’s logo when you submit your form. Once we receive your signed Brit Olam, you will receive a confirmation email.
- Begin or continue your social justice work: Now that you have signed onto the Brit Olam, it is time to get to work! This could mean joining one of our Urgency of Now Initiative campaigns or engaging in another meaningful community-based action with your congregation on an issue that is important to your community. If you are planning to join an Urgency of Now campaign, you will be contacted by a RAC staff member or campaign leader about next steps.
Did you add any steps or create any resources for your congregation’s Brit Olam discussion and sign-on process? We would love to hear about them! We encourage you to share these materials in the Social Action group in the Tent and use the hashtag #BritOlamCongregation.
Do you have more questions? This Brit Olam FAQ page may help!