Common Read On Repentance and Repair Workshop 2 Scenario C

UUA Common Read 2023-24: On Repentance and Repair by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

Workshop 2: Repentance and Repair in Our Covenanted Communities


At Congregation C, some members began, and many have adopted, new practices that welcome people to share the pronouns they use. For example, many have begun hand-writing their pronouns under their names on name tags. Committee meetings and workshops now have a regular practice of inviting everyone to self-introduce with pronouns at the start of a gathering.

At a recent Board meeting, with the minister in attendance, a member brought up another way to affirm the humanity and inherent worth and dignity of people of any sex or gender: gender-neutral bathrooms. Since the building has several single-use bathrooms, the member said, this could simply be a courtesy of putting up a gender-neutral sign.

Another member asked, “Why can’t we make all of our bathrooms gender-neutral?” A third asked, “Why would that be necessary, since we already have some where it’s easy to put up a sign?” No decision was made. After the meeting, a board member who identifies publicly as non-binary approached the minister and explained that they felt humiliated and hurt by the discussion.


Step One: Who were harm-doers? How might they name the harm they did? Did the harm escalate out of a conflict? Conflict is to be expected. How did it cross over into harm?

Step Two: What changes could harm-doers start to make, in order to demonstrate repentance?

Step Three: What restitution and consequences did or could the harm-doer(s) do? What could that look like, without doing further harm?

Step Four: Who could offer a meaningful apology to whom?

Step Five: Who is responsible for making different choices, going forward, to prevent their causing similar harm in the future?

How is the congregation a harm-doer? What changes, what repairs, what different future choices can the community make, for a transformative repentance?