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Community Norms

This is a living document that will change over time as needed. Please add your comments and suggested edits to this document

Jewish Farmer Network is grateful for the leadership of Svara, from whom we have adapted much of this language, with permission. Additionally,  thank you to Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association’s and to our community for guiding us in the process.

 

Mission: Jewish Farmer Network supports the economic, social, and cultural vibrancy of Jewish agriculture by connecting Jewish farmers to resources and community around the world. We mobilize Jewish wisdom to build a more just and regenerative food system for all.

 

Jewish Farmer Network envisions a future in which Jewish agricultural wisdom equips individuals and communities to build a more just and regenerative food system for all. As a community of question-askers, we hold ourselves to a set of cultural norms to help shape collective experiences that enable each person to be fully present, supported, and nurtured. Thank you for your partnership in growing this incredible community, for holding us accountable to our actions, and for your commitment to holding these community norms as they evolve over time.

 

Participants, Staff, Collaborators, and Presenters in Jewish Farmer Network (JFN) programs commit to the following values and community norms while participating in the JFN community: 

 

Examining Oppression & Privilege

Our community includes Jewish farmers who are Black, Indigenous, Jews of Color, white, white-passing, Mizrahi, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Disabled, able-bodied, trans, cis, queer, straight, Jews by choice, Orthodox, secular, reform, conservative, renewal, Zionist, non-Zionist & anti-Zionist and so many more B”H [Baruch Hashem, literally “blessed is The Name,” figuratively “thank G!D”]. By working with JFN, you commit to engaging respectfully across our differences in identities, opinions, and experiences so that we might celebrate our shared identity as Jewish Farmers and those who work with land.

 

Please be mindful about assumptions that you might hold of who our community of Jewish Farmers is composed of. There are many assumptions associated with both being Jewish and being a farmer that do not apply to all our members. What racialized, classed, and gendered associations do you think of when you think about “farmers” and “Jews”? Do your best to not assume that participants and presenters share your identities and experiences.

 

We believe in safety and love for all in our community, while maintaining that our members hold different degrees of privilege and power. We are committed to ensuring that the voices of those who have been regularly excluded from broader Jewish communities are raised. We refuse to replicate patterns of white supremacy and oppression that contribute to that silencing. The JFN team talks openly about how our personal identities and experiences affect our work. We also incorporate this same analysis of power difference as we work with our community. We take these learnings into account when considering how we function as an organization, develop and offer programming, and build community.

 

Please be as transparent as possible with both yourself and others with what experiences and identities you hold and how they factor into your work. Consider your location, financial security, race, gender, and sexual orientation – and how these identities might affect your work and ability to navigate both Jewish and agricultural spaces. Please refer to MOFGA’s Farmer Power and Privilege Worksheet or reach out to a staff member of JFN for further support in reflecting on your identities and experiences. We are so glad that you are here!

 

As a general rule, we invite each person to reflect on the ways in which we occupy positions of privilege, as opposed to asking those who are in a marginalized group to explain their oppression. These kinds of inquiries may be experienced as intrusive, insensitive, misguided, or hurtful – so be mindful before asking questions.

 

If you feel uncomfortable with the way another participant is engaging in the space and do not know how to engage that person directly, please reach out to a staff person privately for support.

 

JFN supports the gathering of multiple affinity spaces for Jewish farmers of shared identities to connect, learn, and offer mutual support. Learn more about our affinity spaces for Queer Jewish Farmers, Disabled Jewish Farmers, BIJOCM (Black, Indigenous, Jews of Color, Mizrahim) Jewish Farmers, and White Jewish Farmers seeking to deepen anti-racism skills. To start a new affinity group, email our Network Coordinator, Liel Green, at liel@jewishfarmernetwork.org.

 

Thoughtful Discourse

JFN is a home for Jewish farmers, agrarians, and farm-adjacent folks, and we are committed to building a culture where we are all students and teachers to each other. Community members come to JFN with many different identities and experiences. We strive to create an environment of mutual respect, where a myriad of voices and perspectives are welcome. 

 

We know the work of creating a community that can lovingly hold vast diversity in identity, experience, and ideology takes time and practice. We invite you to bring the full range of your experiences and identities to the learning, something folks of marginalized identities are rarely invited to do in Jewish community institutions. Our time together in JFN is a space to practice holy disagreement – in which we seek mutual understanding rather than individual “rightness.” We believe that words create worlds, and we commit to thoughtful speech with respect. 

 

Ways to engage in respectful and thoughtful discourse:

Respect for Identity

  • Honor the names that folks use no matter what;

  • Welcome and respect changes to names and/or pronouns;

  • Take care to respect the pronouns of everyone in the space;

  • Share what you’re comfortable with about your identity and honor others’ self-determination as well;

  • Don’t ask someone about their identity and experience without their consent;

  • Don’t question the authenticity of another person’s Jewish identity or experience;

  • Don’t assume that people share all of your experiences and identities. When saying “we,” define who you are including. Speak from the “I” as much as possible;

  • Ask for consent before touching someone, even in a casual & friendly way

  • Striving not to deliberately or inadvertently undermine, disrespect, or dehumanize another person’s identity or experience;

  • Reaching out to a staff member when in need of resources about unfamiliar identities and experiences.

 

Respectful Engagement and Disagreement

  • Define your terms! When using words that others might not be familiar with (Hebrew, technical agriculture terminology, acronyms, names of organizations or programs, etc), share a bit about what that is and means to you. It is ALWAYS invited to ask “What’s that?” or to provide a definition where one might be helpful;

  • Give credit for where your information is coming from, who your teachers have been, and if an idea or content you are sharing did not originate from you. Whenever possible, get permission from the original source prior to sharing;

  • Holding a posture of curiosity when encountering something new or uncomfortable;

  • Listening to understand rather than listening to respond;

  • Using a “yes, and” framework to add to conversation & learning;

  • Noticing when you’re talking more than others and thoughtfully choosing where you might offer your voice (take space / make space);

  • Seek to understand ideas, rather than to judge the individuals sharing them

 

Maximizing Accessibility

Throughout the history of Jewish diasporas, Jewish farmers have been repeatedly geographically and socially isolated from Jewish community and education. We commit to connecting Jewish farmers to Jewish ancestral wisdom in ways that are meaningful and accessible – across disability, financial access, and religious observance. We are always open to feedback on how we can increase the accessibility of our offerings and community spaces.

 

Disability Access

  • We invite participants to share specific access needs with us in all of our registration processes and do our best to support our learners by designing an environment that works for them. 

  • Auto-captioning is available during all JFN online programs, and live captioning is available by request. 

  • Identities and access needs shared privately with the staff will never be shared outside of JFN’s team, and anything shared internally is on a need-to-know basis. All participants are expected to show the same level of discretion when their peers share personal information. 

  • When we are in-person, we utilize venues that meet or exceed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements and allow full access to folks who use scooters, wheelchairs, and other mobility tools.  We seek out locations that are easily accessible by public transportation. Participants needing travel reimbursements in order to access JFN programming are encouraged to reach out to staff. 

 

Financial Access 

  • All of our programming is offered on a sliding scale. Full scholarships are available by request to a staff member – no questions asked and without any proof of “need” required. 

  • We believe that those who put time, energy, care, and love into building our community deserve to be fairly compensated. Thanks to a generous grant from the Jewish Liberation Fund, we are currently able to offer anywhere from $15-$30/ hr as a form of monetary gratitude. We want to support all our volunteers in building community spaces of cultural joy and mutual care, with particular attention to members of our community who are most targeted by the extractive violence of capitalism, white supremacy, cissexism, ableism, and homophobia – especially in the context of farming. While some volunteers may not feel a personal need for compensation, we know that being adequately compensated for their time and labor is what would make full participation possible for others. Volunteers can request compensation here.

 

Religious Access

  • We strive to offer all our programming at times that enable folks of any Jewish religious observance to attend. For online programming, this means we do not schedule programs during Shabbat or on holidays when work is prohibited. For in-person programming, we limit the use of technology in common spaces and during sessions that occur during Shabbat or on holidays when work is prohibited. 

  • When we gather in-person, we seek facilities that can provide kosher food. We seek to uphold the values of kashrut [Jewish dietary laws and practices] by providing food that meets all participants dietary requirements, as well as supporting local and ethical food economies, to the best of our ability.

 

Advancing Racial Justice

We strive to be an anti-racist space, which we understand to mean one that is actively working to dismantle white supremacy culture and uplift the voices and insights of Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community. Jewish Farmer Network is always open to feedback on how we can deepen our commitments to racial justice in our offerings and community spaces. Our current commitments include:

  • Donating 10% of our annual profits to BIPOC-led food sovereignty organizations and projects;

  • Donating 10% of conference profits to Indigenous-led food sovereignty projects;

  • Building and deepening relationships with BIPOC Jewish farmers and members of the broader Jewish agrarian community to develop a pipeline of folks joining JFN as participants, contributors, staff, and board members;

  • Creating a protocol for addressing racist acts and speech if and when they arise in our programs or through interpersonal interactions in our spaces;

  • Creating a safety and security plan, with built-in alternatives to policing, that we will put into action when we gather again in-person;

  • Reviewing and updating our hiring practices to ensure that they are anti-racist and liberatory;

  • Continually looking for ways to advance racial justice through JFN’s culture, policies, and programming;

  • Designating white Jews with experience in anti-racist interventions to support Jews of Color if/when racist acts/speech occur at in-person gatherings;

  • Supporting affinity spaces for BIJOCM (Black, Indigenous, Jews of Color, and/or Mizrahi) Jewish Farmers to gather at both our conferences and as an ongoing offering. Support includes administrative help, paid stipends for organizers, and use of JFN’s Zoom account. JFN commits to deeply listening to and, where appropriate, acting upon any critiques, feedback, or recommendations that emerge from these affinity spaces.

  • Supporting an affinity space for white Jewish farmers looking to deepen their anti-racism skills. Support includes administrative help, paid stipends for organizers, and use of JFN’s Zoom account. JFN commits to deeply listening to any critiques, feedback, or recommendations that emerge from these affinity spaces.

 

Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples

Many of Us are on Stolen Land

Our community includes both those who are Indigenous and those who are settlers. We recognize that our struggles for food sovereignty, resilient ecosystems, and land justice are inextricable from Indigenous struggles for sovereignty and the rematriation of ancestral lands globally. Jewish safety and survival on land has too often been sought through the displacement of Indigenous people and the theft of Indigenous land. As a community of Jewish farmers, JFN believes it is our collective obligation to seek right and deliberate relationship with the lands we steward, the Indigenous peoples of these lands, and our fellow farmers who face violent systemic barriers to building livelihoods and relationships rooted in land. We commit to engaging with the question: how can Jewish relationship to land be one of healing and not one of further harm for ourselves as Jews and for others?

 

Land Acknowledgements

Our Indigenous community members are continually harmed by and actively resisting both historic and present colonization. Many farmers in our community are farming and living on stolen land that continues to be colonized by non-Indigenous people at the expense of Indigenous peoples. We ask that whenever a presenter or participant shares their physical location, they make sure to also honor and extend gratitude towards the original stewards of the land by naming whose ancestral land they reside on (using this link). 

 

Indigenous Reverence

As mentioned above, Jewish safety and survival on land has too often been sought through the displacement of Indigenous people and the theft of Indigenous land. For many of us farming today, we are on the land we are on because of this same colonial impact. For many of us, our farming practices and techniques are rooted in thousands of years of Indigenous knowledge, and too often these practices are taught by settlers without proper permission or cultural context. We ask our non-Indigenous members to join us in moving towards repair by holding deep reverence towards Indigenous communities, struggles, resistance, and wisdom. We invite you to join us in learning about and connecting to Jewish ancestral agricultural and justice-based knowledge as a way to stand in deeper solidarity with Indigenous peoples.


 

Thank you for working with us to wrestle respectfully, together, as a community of Jewish farmers. Again, thank you for your partnership in growing this incredible community, for holding us accountable to our actions, and for your commitment to holding these community norms as they evolve over time.

 

***Please reach out to JFN staff if you have questions, clarifications or want to discuss how to address these topics.***

 

Definitions

Privilege: "Unearned social power and advantages granted by both formal and informal institutions in society to all members of a dominant group (eg. white privilege, male privilege, economically privileged, etc.)." (ICMA's Glossary of Terms: Race, Equity, and Social Justice) "Privilege is often invisible to those that have it. Privilege is not undone by simply acknowledging it, but through working towards the dismantling of the systems that enable these privileges in the first place." (Settler Colonialism Primer by Laura Hurwitz and Shawn Borque)

 

Oppression: "Oppression is both the unjust or cruel exercise of authority and power and the effects of domination so attained." A helpful “equation” used to understand oppression: "Power + Privilege = Oppression." (ICMA's Glossary of Terms: Race, Equity, and Social Justice)

 

White supremacy: "The social, economic, and political system that collectively enables white people to maintain power over people of other races and perpetuate the belief that the white race is inherently superior... White supremacy was in part developed in order to justify European colonial exploitation of people and land." (Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad)

 

Indigenous people: "Any group of people native to a specific region, referring to people who lived in an area before colonists or settlers arrived, defined new borders, and began to occupy the land." (What Does Indigenous Mean? By Crystal Raypole)

 

Settlers: "the non-Indigenous peoples… who form the European-descended sociopolitical majority" of an area. (Who is a Settler, According to Indigenous and Black Scholars by Ashleigh-Rae Thomas)

 

Rematriation:  The act of restoring sacred "relationships between Indigenous people and their ancestral land." Rematriation honors "matrilineal societies’ and lineages’ ways of tending to the land, in opposition of patriarchal violence and dynamics." (Rematriation Resource Guide by the Sogorea Te Land Trust)

 

Colonialism: "A system that occupies and usurps land, labor, and resources from one group of people for the benefit of another." (Settler Colonialism Primer by Laura Hurwitz and Shawn Borque) Colonialism is the ideology behind the act of colonization. 

 

Settler-colonization: “The removal and erasure of Indigenous peoples in order to take the land for use by settlers” permanently. “Settler-colonialism is not a thing of the past, but is a continual process that exists as long as settlers are living on stolen land.” (What is Settler- Colonialism? by Amanda Morris) “Settler Colonialism typically includes oppressive governance, dismantling of indigenous cultural forms, and enforcement of codes of superiority (such as white supremacy)." (ICMA's Glossary of Terms: Race, Equity, and Social Justice)

 

Solidarity:  Acting from a place of knowing and feeling that your own liberation is bound with the liberation of others. (Lilla Watson)