Sexual assault and intimate partner violence occur in the Jewish community the same as it does in the rest of the country. It is an issue swept under the rug for most Jews. We point fingers at other groups of people— rape happens in the city, in other religious communities, in communities with no religion, but certainly not us, we say!
Probably the only thing better than reading a thought provoking piece in a major publication is realizing it was penned by a colleague. Leah Berkenwald, the former editor of our blog, wrote a fantastic article about sexual assault and responsibility. Her message veers away from the traditional, and unfortunate, message of placing blame on women who drink too much and open themselves up for violence, and instead asks the reader to think about the sexual culture of college campuses. Today Leah is the Wellness Education Coordinator at Wentworth Institute of Technology, where she is implementing an original bystander intervention campaign to prevent sexual assault called "Be a WIThero."
What sets Kickstarter’s response apart from other organizations is that they didn’t just apologize—they took it a step further. After reiterating that offensive, hateful and violent material has no place on their website they stated that they will indeed be following up their words and with action and “will donate $25,000 to an anti-sexual violence organization called RAINN,” acknowledging that “it’s an excellent organization that combats exactly the sort of problems our inaction may have encouraged.”
The New York Times Magazine is tackling sex trafficking and other despicable abuses against women in their "Saving the World's Women" issue. Lately I have observed a steadily rising cultural awareness of sex trafficking, and thank goodness. Sex trafficking is an uncomfortable issue, and historically, many have chosen to ignore it rather than face the unpleasantness of dealing with it. But it seems that things are changing, and thanks to the efforts of high-profile people like Hillary Clinton, Americans are gearing up to tackle this global issue. I think the Jewish community needs to join this campaign. Think sex trafficking isn't a Jewish issue? Think again.
Tonight marks the start of Tisha b’Av, a day of fasting and mourning for the Jewish community. Traditionally, Tisha b’Av commemorates the destruction of the temples in Jerusalem, but for many Jews, it has a more universal purpose to mourn all kinds of physical and emotional destruction: global warming, pollution, war, illness, starvation, genocide, and violence.
Few people use their employment bonuses to start an organization of their own. But at 23, Holly Shulman -- listed in “Real Hot 100” -- is setting a new standard. Instead of enhancing her wardrobe or beefing up her music collection, Shulman used her bonus to found “Vote Against Violence,” a political action committee to combat domestic violence and sexual assault.
When I saw the footage of President Bush coming up behind German Chancellor Merkel and squeezing her shoulders, I have to say I was pretty horrified. Was it the most offensive thing I’ve seen Bush do? Not by a long shot. But the notion that he thought this was acceptable behavior was still disturbing. For many of us women, it also brought back a memory of having our space invaded by some jerky guy, being too surprised to do anything, and then regretting we hadn’t.