Exhibit: Women Who Dared
BiographiesMultimediaBy CityAbout WWD Jewish Gender Activism
Rebecca Chernin
Domestic and Teen Dating Violence Activist

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What Else She Said

"But while I was there [at REACH], it always bothered me that we never went into any shuls, we never talked to rabbis, and we never went to Jewish schools. We went into churches and talked to clergy. So I started a huge outreach to the Jewish community. I contacted all fifty synagogues in our service area. I sent them letters, pamphlets, posters, resources. Then I sent them more letters, called them, harassed them, telling them, 'hey, there's a problem here.' I was so upset at the responses I got. Almost all of the rabbis said, 'it's not a problem here; thanks, anyway; we'll call you if something comes up.' And basically that was the response in 47 out of the 50 synagogues. So, I sent out more letters, and finally I got some of them to start posting our hotline number. And within weeks our hotline was bombarded with Jewish women calling, saying, 'I saw the sign at the synagogue.' They said they'd gone to their rabbi who told them to go home and work it out. Then I'd talk to these rabbis who had said, 'it doesn't happen here,' and I'd have to say, 'hey, actually our hotline is ringing off the hook with people calling from the synagogues that have the posters up.' But still the rabbis didn't want a fuss because it would make it seem like it's a big issue [in the synagogues and in the Jewish community in general]. Just a lot of resistance. From the end of senior year through the summer, I kept working in the shelter, answering the hotline, and I kept going with the shuls. Then I contacted the Jewish youth groups to try to get programs in there. We ended up doing a couple of mother-daughter Sunday events for shuls, which was good."

'That summer, since I had been out of my relationship then for about a year, I started using my story in the training. We'd do our whole 'Teen Dating Violence 101'—what it consists of, the warning signs, etc. And then I'd ask, 'Is this real? Does this really happen?' They'd say, 'No,' or 'It only happens once in a while to stupid people.' And I'd say, 'Let me tell you something. I'm a Jewish girl, I went to a private school.' Then I'd tell my story and they'd be totally shocked. That was definitely a very effective tool. It created more dialogue; people felt freer to ask more questions.

"You have to take the risk if you're going to have that ripple effect, and that's what you really need to resolve an issue. If I can spread it out to my community [then I am beginning that ripple effect]; that is why I'm targeting the Jewish community so much."

How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Rebecca Chernin on PATH TO ACTIVISM." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "Jewish Women's Archive - Women Who Dared - Rebecca Chernin on PATH TO ACTIVISM," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/fullAnswer.jsp>.