Devar Torah Shabbat Sept. 13 - Domestic Violence

This morning's haftorah included the verse (Isaiah 60:18) "The cry, 'violence!', shall no more be heard in your land, nor 'wrack and ruin!' within your borders. In context this prophetic vision concerns peace in the land of Israel. The day will come when Israel - the people and the land - will experience quiet. Enemies shall no longer attack it.

However, we can also apply this vision to or homes. The day should come when all homes will be safe, when partners and children will consistently treat each other with love and respect, when homes will be truly safe places to live. The terrible incident between the NFL player Ray Rice and his then fiance that occurred last February and came to light last week highlights the prevailing plague of domestic violence. According to information found on the website of Jewish Women International , 25% of women in America have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at least once in her lifetime. In 2008 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that women experience 2 million injuries from intimate partner violence every year. Since the violence against women act was passed by Congress in 1994, reporting of domestic violence has increased by 51%.

At sessions held for local rabbis over the years by both JWI and the local Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse we are led believe that domestic abuse doesn't happen in Jewish homes. We think that Jewish husbands don't beat their wives. But JCADA reports that the 25% figure is the same in the Jewish community. That means that of the 215,000 Jews in the greater DC area, 30,000 people have or currently are experiencing abuse.

These statistics hopefully encourage us to do something to end this violence. We need to be aware. If we see signs of injury in our friends try to talk or encourage them to seek help. The JCADA website shows a 24 hour hotline that one can call for support and help. Let me know if you suspect something and I can get involved. Support JWI and JCADA in their important work of educating adolescents about domestic abuse - statistics show that dating violence begins as early as middle school - and advocacy for legislation to protect women. We need to be involved in order to live up to Isaiah's vision to ensure that violence will no more be heard in the land.