October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, funding culturally competent responses to domestic violence has long been a priority. Twenty-five percent of all Jewish women will experience domestic abuse— the same rate as non-Jewish women—but studies have also found that Jewish women stay in abusive relationships for twice as long.
Understanding this nuance and offering a full range of support—like trauma-informed counseling and financial help—is why we fund organizations like JFCS and The Female Hebrew Benevolent Society. And in the past few years, our Women of Vision affinity group has built a special relationship with one violence prevention organization focused on community education and legal support: Dinah.
Dinah, named for Jacob's voiceless daughter, focuses specifically on violence against women in the Jewish community. They point to specific issues that create a culture of complacency, such as stereotypes that Jewish women are "difficult," and tolerance for men who refuse to grant their wives a divorce.
"We have created a void in which anyone suffering thinks they are the only one — the exception, the weak one," writes founder Shana Weiner. "They believe that no one will listen them, support them, save them."
Dinah aims to be that savior, connecting Jewish women with culturally competent legal defense, educating lawyers and clergy, and offering bystander training to community members. It was a perfect match for our Women of Vision, a group of women philanthropists dedicated to funding innovative programs to enhance the lives of women and girls.
With Women of Vision's help, Dinah was able to develop a trauma-informed training curriculum, called a Community Ally Training, that breaks down misconceptions about violence in the Jewish community. Dinah also trained 50 lawyers to support survivors of DV in court—and since Dinah is volunteer-run, recruiting strong allies in the legal profession is crucial to fulfilling their mission.
Most recently, Women of Vision has provided Dinah with a capacity building grant to help this young, volunteer-run organization put systems to better serve survivors.
"Members of the Jewish community are not exempt from the tragedy of domestic partner violence," said Mindy Fortin, Women of Vision chair. "At this difficult time, when incidences of domestic violence have skyrocketed due to the hardships that Covid-19 has brought to our doorsteps, we feel it is more important than ever to help protect the most vulnerable among us."
If you or someone you know needs help, you can find a domestic violence reporting hotline here.