Posted by Julie Youdovin
I love the idea of Chanukkah. It's a celebration, a real festival with candles and games and delicious food. In the days when the sun is down before the evening commute, we tell our story of hope and rededication. We hold the light for ourselves and for each other as night falls earlier and earlier.
But there are those in our community who live throughout the year with the darkness and silence that comes with domestic abuse. Some abuse survivors are living in terrible situations without access to money or support or safe space. Some are so frightened that they don't dare speak their truth out loud. Some have already lost nearly everything, deeply scarred not only from violence in some cases, but also from lengthy custody battles and exhausting days in court.
On Chanukkah, we reject darkness and hopelessness. We hold the light. And this is what we as a community can do for survivors of domestic abuse. As we put our chanukiot (Chanukkah menorahs) in our windows to share our celebration with our community, so can we reach out to survivors in our midst.
- Put up awareness posters in our synagogues and places of gathering.
- Host an educational program on domestic abuse.
- Put a notice with helplines in temple bulletins or service booklets.
- Make pulpit announcements about how to get help.
- Encourage our social groups (book clubs, maj groups, etc.) to learn about domestic abuse and how to reach out to survivors in our community.
These public outreach efforts are our candles. They are the light we hold for abuse survivors. Please consider adding your candle to the glow in your community this year. You never know whose light you might be holding.
Journey to Safety can help you figure out what kind of outreach you can organize in your community and which local helplines to publicize. We also offer educational programs for congregations, educators, clergy, Sisterhoods and Brotherhoods, youth groups, parents, caring community/chessed groups, social groups, and others. Please contact Elizabeth Schön Vainer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Julie Youdovin at email@example.com or call 781-647-JFCS (5327) for more information.
Julie Youdovin is the Outreach and Program Coordinator of Journey to Safety, the domestic abuse program of Jewish Family & Children's Service. Before moving to Massachusetts, Julie spent ten years working at SafeHouse Center, a domestic violence program in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has also held positions at the Union for Reform Judaism's Religious Action Center, the American Jewish Committee's Washington office, and the American Arts Alliance, a nonprofit arts advocacy organization.