Voice of the Jewish News: Betrayal of the family values that define us

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Voice of the Jewish News: Betrayal of the family values that define us

Shocking figures reported by Jewish Women's Aid reveal a sobering problem in the community when it comes to abusive marriages

Shocking statistics published this week by Jewish Women’s Aid shine a sobering spotlight on the cruelty and violence suffered by Jewish women compelled to remain in abusive marriages due to stigma and shame. 

Our religion places unparalleled importance on “Shalom bayit” – domestic harmony. Every Shabbat married men are expected to recite Eishet Chayil, a poignant prayer to their spouse, hailing their better half as more precious than jewels. If not for her, the refrain goes, we would still be slaves in Egypt.

Yet, according to JWA, far too many Jewish homes are stripped of shalom. Calls to the charity’s helpline soared by 62 percent as perpetrators used lockdown to abuse partners and isolate them from friends and family.

Judaism’s focus, especially among the strictly-Orthodox, on community unity and traditional gender roles is a key reason why many women, fearful of humiliating their family, suffer in hell rather than ask for help.

Community leaders and welfare charities have their role to play in combating abuse, but only JWA deals directly with the issue every day. Only JWA provides space where survivors’ cultural and religious requirements can be understood and respected with compassion and expertise. 

When JWA publishes a report this stark and alarming, it is incumbent on all of us to help shatter the stigma. Victims of domestic violence are shamed by their abusers. It shames us as a community if we remain silent.

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