[Blog] Use this Shabbat to talk about domestic abuse

21 November 2018
By Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism

This Sunday is the annual United Nations designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW).

It’s a wonderful cause that Liberal Judaism has supported throughout our history. But it’s also one that may leave many asking “what can I do personally?”

The main thing anyone reading this can do is quite simple… talk about it.

This Shabbat Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA) – together with the Board of Deputies – are initiating a campaign titled ‘Don’t Shut Your Eyes to Domestic Abuse’.

The charity – the only specialist organisation in the UK supporting Jewish women affected by domestic violence and abuse – reports that most women who suffer do so in silence; too ashamed, embarrassed or fearful to admit what is happening to them.

But they are not alone. One in 10 women are experiencing domestic abuse and violence at any given time. It knows no religious or denominational boundaries. Victims can be of any age or social class. The number of people coming to JWA for help grows year on year and then, of course, there are all those have still not yet found their way to get the help they desperately need.

That’s why the aim of the JWA campaign is to “challenge the community to open their eyes, to acknowledge it happens, and to ensure that every Jewish woman and child affected by domestic violence and abuse knows where to get help.”

Over this coming Shabbat, Liberal Judaism is asking our rabbis to speak out against domestic abuse and violence during their sermons and hope that our members will take part in discussions – whether as part of the service or during kiddish afterwards – on this important topic.

I’m pleased to say this won’t just be happening in Liberal synagogues. There aren’t many things that bring the whole Jewish community together in agreement, but this vital cause is one of them.

I am proud to stand with my colleagues from Orthodox, Masorti and Reform Judaism in making this call and hope to see many of you in synagogue this weekend as we open our eyes, and our mouths, to domestic abuse.


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