Dear AJS Members,
I am excited to announce two important developments that have emerged in recent weeks from the board’s commitment to creating a productive, positive, and supportive environment for the Association’s diverse membership.
The first is the formulation of a set of core values that are intended to guide our interactions internally with one another, and externally with the larger community, as well as other organizations, and agencies. You will find the statement of core values below.
But these core values must not remain inert words on a page, and this brings us to the second exciting development: the creation of four new task forces that will help the organization realize its newly articulated core values in practical policies, programs, services and initiatives around areas of key interest or concern.
The four new task forces will address a range of important issues that face the organization:Sexual Misconduct, Diversity and Inclusion, Professional Development, and Membership Engagement. I thank Karla Goldman, Laura Levitt, Jeffrey Shandler and Jeffrey Veidlinger for agreeing to serve as chairs for these task forces.
You will find a detailed description of the purpose and work of each task force below. If you are interested in assisting any of these task forces, please respond using the form provided.
We hope to hear from you as we work to fulfill our overall mission and to enhance our membership’s experience of the AJS.
The AJS values scholarly excellence in the many sub-fields of Jewish Studies based on critical inquiry, academic integrity, intellectual honesty, a commitment to on-going learning, and respectful debate.
The AJS values academic and intellectual freedom ensuring freedom of teaching, research and extramural activities, and reaffirms its 1976 endorsement of the AAUP’s Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure. The AJS is committed to the development and strengthening of an institutional and public culture that encourages diverse views, and supports its members’ right to articulate beliefs and positions without fear of retribution.
AJS values community. The AJS works to create a sense of community among its membership and to build bridges among Jewish Studies scholars and professionals, the Jewish community, and the wider public.
The AJS values inclusiveness and diversity in the Jewish Studies profession, and the many research disciplines and teaching contexts that contribute to the vibrancy of Jewish Studies scholarship. The AJS is committed to eliminating barriers to full participation based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, race, ethnicity, ability, and employment status. Diversity encourages innovation and creativity and strengthens community by harnessing a variety of skills, perspectives, talents, and resources to meet new challenges.
The AJS values ethical conduct in all aspects of Jewish Studies scholarship (including but not limited to research, publishing, peer reviews, teaching, advising, and mentoring) and reaffirms its policy on sexual misconduct, which is one form of unethical conduct.
The AJS values opportunities to foster its membership’s research, teaching, and professional development through its annual conference, publications and newsletters, workshops, webinars, research and travel grants, prizes, and other programs and initiatives.
The AJS values collaboration and teamwork which in turn require good faith. Good faith is the general presumption that members will deal with each other honestly, fairly, openly, and constructively, with mutual respect and a shared dedication to the common good.
1) Sexual Misconduct
Chair: Laura Levitt
Mission: The AJS Task Force on Sexual Misconduct will serve as an advisory group to the AJS Board around issues of sexual misconduct and discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation and gender. The Task Force is charged with (1) identifying and recommending strategies to ensure that AJS members understand and comply with the AJS sexual misconduct policy; (2) identifying and recommending policies and procedures for handling violations of the AJS sexual misconduct policy; (3) advising the AJS on developing programming focused on the prevention of sexual misconduct and discrimination; (4) advising the AJS on the development of outreach programs, support services and practical resources for persons experiencing sexual misconduct and discrimination; (5) developing and implementing a system of regular climate surveys and reports.
It is expected that the recommendations of the Task Force will be data-driven and will reflect the current wisdom and common practice of peer organizations. For this reason, the task force is expected to work with AJS staff to (1) gather data about member experiences using survey tools; (2) gather information about the policies, procedures, programing, support services and practical resources developed by other learned societies; and (3) develop recommendations specific to the AJS on the basis of the data and information gathered in these ways.
2) Diversity and Inclusion
Chair: Karla Goldman
Mission: The AJS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion will serve as an advisory group to the AJS Board around issues of fairness, protection and inclusion of persons of different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, religions, disabilities, and sexual orientations and with differences in education and experience. In order to create a collaborative, supportive, and respectful environment that increases the participation of all AJS members in the organization and contribution of all Jewish Studies scholars to the field of Jewish Studies, the Task Force is charged with identifying and recommending to the board policies and practices that support
• fair treatment
• equal access to opportunity
• teamwork and collaboration
• representation of diversity at all levels of the organization
• diversity education and training
The task force is expected to work with AJS staff to (1) gather data about the current state of diversity and inclusion in AJS programs and activities; (2) gather information about the policies, procedures, programing, and support services developed by other learned societies; and (3) develop recommendations specific to the AJS on the basis of the data and information gathered in these ways.
3) Professional Development
Chair: Jeffrey Shandler
Mission: The AJS Professional Development Task Force aims to help members define and accomplish their career objectives, improve their likelihood for promotion, enhance career satisfaction, build leadership skills, and successfully bring their work to both academic and public audiences.The Task Force also aims to help members learn about and develop skills for careers and professions outside the world of academia.
4) Membership Engagement
Chair: Jeffrey Veidlinger
Mission: The AJS Task Force on Member Services will help the organization develop and adapt its programs and services to meet the changing demographics, interests, and needs of its members. This task force will recommend ways to improve participation by examining what matters most to members, how members can become more involved and engaged in the association, and how the association can better communicate with its members. Among the issues the task force expects to address are career mentoring, networking, professional ethics, the annual conference, academic and intellectual freedom, advocacy, teaching, professional development and leadership opportunities, and conditions of employment.