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Rosh Hashanah: A Call for Renewal and Compassion

By: Alyson Morse Katzman, Safe Havens Co-Director

Shanah Tovah! Wishing our friends and supporters who celebrate a joyous 5784!

Rosh Hashanah is a time for self-assessment, renewal, and seeking forgiveness. Just as we examine our actions in relation to G-d and others, this is also a time to extend this reflection to broader societal issues. As a Co-Director at Safe Havens, I would ask you to reflect on how we can create a safer and more compassionate world--one that condemns all forms of abuse. The call of the shofar urges us to awaken our conscience and recognize the pain suffered by those who experience intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and elder abuse.

Abuse is hard to talk about. It is shameful, swept under the rug, and certainly doesn’t happen to people in OUR community. And yet, one in four women will experience some form of domestic abuse in her lifetime. We all know someone affected by abuse--we just don’t realize it. And domestic abuse isn’t something that happens in “other” communities—it happens in all kinds of communities, regardless of our education, political beliefs, sexual orientation, where we live, income, OR faith.

Jewish stereotypes can reinforce a survivor’s narrow view of the world. We are “nice Jewish boys and girls,” and “Jewish men make good husbands.” So often, people who experience the abuse think they are the ones at fault, that they must have done something wrong. Our silence on this issue compounds that belief.

The principles of justice and compassion that underpin Rosh Hashanah compel us to act in solidarity with those who have endured abuse, helping them heal and rebuild their lives. Let’s take this opportunity to break the silence in our congregations. The more that survivors hear from us that abuse of any kind is unacceptable, the more likely they will speak up and reach out for help.

How do we speak up? Safe Havens has a list of ways to get started HERE. And October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) which provides another opportunity to raise awareness. You can learn more about DVAM HERE. However you share knowledge and resources, know that you are empowering your community to support those in need.

Let’s honor the beginning of the year and work towards a world without abuse. On behalf of Safe Havens, many thanks for your commitment.

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