Ohev shalom v’rodef shalom. Loving peace and pursuing peace.
Each of us has conflicts in our everyday life. An argument with a co-worker, a disagreement with a loved one, a dispute with a neighbor, a verbal altercation with someone with whom we are doing business and other difficult situations. How each of us handles the conflicts in our life has a significant impact on our happiness, success and well-being. Conflict can drain our emotional, spiritual and financial resources. Most of us simply dread conflict. Many of us have felt like we “lost” due to the outcome of a conflict. What steps can each of us take to resolve these conflicts and build stronger relationships? Jewish tradition is rich in conflict resolution strategies and techniques, one of which is mediation. Temple Rodef Shalom offers a Mediation/Conflict Resolution Program to assist anyone in the TRS community in resolving certain disputes.
Mediation is a voluntary dispute resolution process designed to bring people in conflict together in a face-to-face meeting to work out solutions to their differences. It is based on voluntary and good faith cooperation and participation by the parties. The meeting is facilitated by a team of two specially trained, neutral third-parties called "mediators." The mediators help the parties communicate and understand their concerns and needs, identify and consider possible solutions, and reach mutual agreement. The mediators do not act as judges or arbitrators, have no decision-making authority, do not decide what is right or wrong and do not take sides.
The TRS mediators are volunteers who have successfully completed, at a minimum, a 20-hour mediator training program that includes mediation techniques, communication, negotiation, and conciliation skills. Mediators are trained to be impartial. Prior to the mediation, the mediators are provided only with a brief summary of the situation to be discussed and with the names of the participants. Mediators are not assigned to a case if they know the participants personally or if they have any stake in the outcome of the mediation.
The TRS clergy may refer participants to mediation, but it will be the decision of the participants whether to pursue this option. Mediation, as described below, is an entirely confidential process, and therefore, even if a case is referred by one of our clergy, the mediators will not report back to the clergy in any way unless requested and agreed to by all participants. The clergy is, of course, available if requested by the participants, to provide insights concerning how Jewish thought might assist in resolving the situation.
Mediation is a much less formal process than arbitration or litigation. A typical mediation session lasts two hours and most issues are resolved in one session. Sessions are scheduled at a time and location convenient to all parties. Because the parties are directly responsible for developing the terms of an agreement, they are more likely to keep the agreement. In general, mediation participants reach agreements about 80% of the time, and keep those agreements about 90% of the time. Even if a written agreement is not reached, parties may lay groundwork for future agreements by opening lines of communication. Also, mediation is private and confidential. All communications and documents, including work notes made or used during a mediation session are confidential. The participants will be asked to agree, in writing, that the mediators cannot be required and will not be asked by the participants to testify about what was said or written in mediation, if the issue ends up in court.
A successful mediation process can help parties to:
If an agreement cannot be reached, generally the parties still have the same options available to them that existed before the mediation. When the parties agree to mediate, they understand that the information exchanged is confidential and will not be used in any legal proceedings on the matter.
The mediated agreement is a contract between the two parties and is as binding as any other similar contract.
Any member or staff member of Temple Rodef Shalom may request mediation services by calling the TRS office at 703.532.2217 or email. Mediation is a confidential and voluntary process. Both parties must agree to mediate. When one person initiates the process, the Program will notify the other party by email or by phone, explain that mediation has been requested, and determine if that party is willing to participate in mediation.