A Jewish Day School Revolution: Combatting Injustice

Photograph from the Oslo Women's March (courtesy of Wikipedia).

As I sit in my local library my eyes burn from intense focus, and I reach over to grab my overly-sweetened iced coffee. I place my cup down on the wooden table, and then watch my fingers excitedly type out the words: “Together we can end sexual violence.” Though extreme exhaustion overcomes my body, I can’t help but abruptly rise from my chair, and smile through my sleep-deprivation.

Six months earlier, at the end of my junior year, I hurried into my U.S. Government and Economics class and sat down to my teacher explaining our final project. He informed us that we had to choose an issue facing American society and figure out how to solve it, either on a local or national level. My mind immediately began to fill with a whirlwind of ideas.

With the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements on the rise, I knew I wanted to deal with the issue of sexual violence. Realizing my work would have a greater effect on a local level, I decided to confront the issue head-on within my school community by proposing programs and interactive activities that would promote awareness around sexual violence and the importance of consent, as well as create a safe-space-like environment. I also drafted a set of rules and expectations for our school to establish. Additionally, I emailed California senator, Kamala Harris, regarding the need for consent education in California high schools, as well as the need to take action against sexual misconduct. Senator Harris ended up responding, though it understandably took her a few months.

It was time to put an end to ignorant comments like “She was flirting with him the entire time. Clearly, she wanted it.” I felt fed up, and quite frankly, uncomfortable and unsafe, hearing male students in the hallways defending Harvey Weinstein, proudly exclaiming that the women he attacked “should have said no.” Time was most definitely up. I was determined to put an end to this despicable and uneducated behavior. I was more than ready to transform the members of my rather small, private, unexposed Jewish day school community into woke warriors.

I spent countless weeks compiling lists of statistics, watching documentaries, reading about laws regarding consent/sex education, and educating myself on the intricate definitions of sexual assault and sexual harassment. I began to meet regularly with my school principal and guidance counselors. In those meetings, I kept my head held high, and refused to allow anyone to undermine my hard work. Of course, I received comments such as “this isn’t a priority” and “this isn’t your job to fix,” which made me feel unimportant and like my project was useless. I also received the classic “Wow! This is amazing! We’re going to fix this,” however, nothing ever did end up changing.

As I reflect on this past year, I wonder if any of my hard work actually paid off. Of course, I can recall instances in which I heard an ignorant boy mock the #MeToo movement, or a teacher fail to put a stop to sexist comments coming from the back of the classroom. But I also recall the “Bullying and Harassment Policy” that my school revamped and released a few months ago. I recall the powerful meeting my senior class had with a college professor regarding the importance of consent. I recall our school-wide discussion about Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against Brett Kavanaugh. Although my school still has a long way to go, I feel accomplished knowing that we aren’t ignoring these issues, and that we’re moving towards taking a real stand against injustice.

This piece was written as part of JWA’s Rising Voices Fellowship.

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How to cite this page

Drazin, Lily. "A Jewish Day School Revolution: Combatting Injustice ." 22 May 2019. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 4, 2023) <https://jwa.org/blog/risingvoices/jewish-day-school-revolution-combatting-injustice>.

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