Posted by Elizabeth Schön Vainer, Director of JF&CS Journey to Safety

At JF&CS Journey to Safety, we imagine a society that sees, believes, and supports survivors of domestic abuse. We have a unique role to ensure that this scourge is visible through a Jewish lens in the Jewish community. Journey to Safety provides services to all abuse survivors who reach out to us for help, while providing culturally and religiously sensitive services for Jewish and Russian-speaking survivors. As we have seen firsthand, when clergy speak out against domestic abuse, it makes a world of difference in the Jewish community. This year, we are proud to announce that 118 rabbis and cantors from different Jewish denominations in Massachusetts took a stand against domestic abuse. Please take a few minutes to learn about our efforts and what you can do to help!

As part of our Many Voices, One Message campaign, Jewish clergy added their names to the following statement: “We join together in saying we will not tolerate domestic abuse in the Jewish community.” The statement appeared in the Jewish Journal and Jewish Advocate and will be featured in the Jewish Ledger in January. The campaign is a joint effort of the Jewish Domestic Violence Coalition, JF&CS Journey to Safety, and Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership Against Domestic Violence.

Tied to Jewish Tradition

Each year, we publish the Many Voices, One Message campaign close to Chanukkah. We chose this time of year specifically to connect Chanukkah’s brightly lit menorahs with the campaign’s goal of bringing light and hope to dark spaces and connecting with survivors of abuse, who are often isolated and alone.

This year’s initiative took on an extra dimension of meaning as well. In Jewish tradition, the number 18 represents life. It seems especially fitting that the campaign was endorsed by exactly 118 rabbis and cantors, underscoring the idea that everyone should be free to live their lives safely and without fear that their spouse or partner will deliberately harm them physically, emotionally, financially, sexually, or spiritually.

Spreading the Message

With this year’s statement finalized, the real work is just beginning. Our goal is for Jewish survivors of domestic abuse around the state to see this statement, feel less invisible, hear the message that people in their community – including so many Jewish clergy – support them, and then hopefully reach out for help. Please help us circulate this statement by liking and sharing it on social media; printing and hanging it in Jewish spaces; and finding other ways to publicize it in newsletters, bulletins, and other print communications.

Finally, we know that we were not able to reach every Jewish clergy member in Massachusetts. If you know a clergy member who signed this statement, please thank them for their support. If you know a rabbi or cantor whose name does not appear this year, please ask them to look for the invitation to sign on to the 2020 initiative next fall.

Many thanks to all the rabbis and cantors who signed on to this year’s campaign and to all of you for helping us circulate and promote this important outreach initiative. We wish everyone a happy, healthy new year!

Additional thanks to New Jersey’s Project S.A.R.A.H., which gave us permission to adapt their campaign for use in Massachusetts and to The Miriam Fund, which provided funding for this campaign during its inaugural year.