The MBR president will appoint a Public Policy Committee of seven Rabbis in good standing of the MBR, with three committee members drawn respectively from the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements, the remaining four slots to be filled by MBR members who wish to serve regardless of movement affiliation. From amongst this group of appointees a chairperson will be nominated. The chairpersonship will rotate every two years.
Proposals for statements of MBR public policy may be submitted to the committee by any member of the MBR in good standing. Proposals will be received by the chairperson of the Committee. The committee will take these statements for consideration. In addition the committee itself may promulgate a proposed statement based on its own research and consideration. Each proposal must refer to principles of Jewish tradition and reference Jewish sources. Statements that simply forward a personal political agenda will not be considered. We also suggest that the proposals be limited to issues that affect the communities in Massachusetts. Statements of particularly national concern are taken up by the Rabbinic organizations of the movements.
The Committee will review the proposed statements and vote on acceptance of a proposal after conferring with the author on proposed changes or additions. No proposal will leave the committee without at least five acceptances.
From the committee, proposed statements will pass on to the Executive Committee of the MBR. The proposed statements will be circulated via e-mail, with two days for suggestions and comments to be directed to the chair of the Public Policy Committee. If need be the changes will be made and the Public Policy Committee will reconvene by e-mail to consider the new proposal. The chair of the Public policy Committee will, in consultation with the president of the MBR, gauge the response of the Executive Committee and perhaps decide that a statement is not appropriate for distribution.
The approved statement will then be circulated amongst the membership at large before it is distributed in any form. This is a courtesy extended to our members to have advance notice of any statements to be made public. If strong opposition comes from the membership, the chair, in consultation with the MBR President, has the option to pull a statement before distribution. The possibility will also exist to call a general meeting of the membership to discuss the issue further.
Most of the position papers that the Public Policy Committee proposes evolve through a process of lengthy deliberation. However, some statements that have no existing position paper need to be issued on a more urgent basis. When the Executive Committee requests a public policy statement from the committee or its chair, the chair will circulate the draft statement to all Public Policy Committee members for immediate review. Committee members will respond promptly with minimal copy-editing, as needed. With the committee's blessing, the chair will forward the finalized draft to the EC.
These guidelines are designed to make the process as open as possible while allowing for a timely response to issues of serious concern. To learn more about the committee and its work, feel free to email Rabbi Victor Reinstein, Public Policy Chair.