MAKOM KADOSH: The Jewish Fellowship of Chester County
A Covenant for Good and Holy Communicating
BRIT LASHON HATOV v’HAKADOSH
“Everyone is created in God’s image,” (1) so …..
We will assume the best intentions on the part of our listeners.
We will speak for ourselves, not as representatives of any group, and not ask others to represent, defend, or explain an entire group of people.
We will strive to make “I” statements, rather than “we” or “you” statements.
“Everyone has a place in the Torah,” (2) so….
We will seek to understand others’ opinions before ours is understood.
We will share airtime and refrain from interrupting others. We will make sure that everyone has had an opportunity to speak before we share again.
“Disagree for the sake of Heaven,” (3) so….
We will seek to clarify misunderstandings productively.
We will express our different viewpoints in a thoughtful manner and without an insulting spirit. We may respectfully disagree with others, but we will resist the urge to convert them to our way of thinking.
We will treat our conversational partners as we would want to be treated.
“There is a time to keep silent and a time to speak,” (4) so….
We will greet questions with a moment of silence to give everyone ample time to formulate a thoughtful response.
We will hang on when we hear something that is hard to listen to. We will, when appropriate, “take-‐‑five” if we find that we are no longer able to listen with an open and clear mind.
“Words carry the power of life and death,” (5) so…
We appreciate the spirit and passion of our community as it is reflected in diverse opinions
We do not engage in lashon hara–gossip, rumor mongering, slander
We strive to listen and hear each other as members of a holy community– in public meetings, in community forums, in classes, in emails, on the phone – anywhere we talk to each other.
Although we strive to keep this covenant, sometimes we fall short.
We try to recognize those times and apologize to those we have harmed.
We try again. We are human.
This covenant is adapted from the Brit Lashon HaTov of Beacon Hebrew Alliance & of Congregation B’nai Jeshurun in New York City and the Communication Agreement of the Encounter Project.
1. Genesis 1:27 2. Sefat Emet on Parashat Bamidar 3. Pirke Avot 5:19 4. Ecclesiastes 3:7 5. Proverbs 18:21