October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Pass it on.
When Rabbi Esther Lederman of Temple Micah in Washington, DC started to describe a new prayer to our congregation the other day, my heart literally skipped a beat. I knew what was coming.
This year JWI’s Clergy Task Force on Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community took an extra step to raise awareness of domestic violence by creating a new multidenominational Jewish prayer and distributing it for inclusion in High Holiday services across the country. The misheberach is written in Hebrew and English, and calls for complete healing of the body and spirit for victims of abuse.
The prayer is beautiful and our congregation sat in silence and rapt attention as Rabbi Lederman read the meaningful words. With the High Holidays falling just before and during National Domestic Violence Awareness (October), the timing couldn’t be more ideal to read the Misheberach aloud during services – and perhaps use it as a springboard for discussion of the issue. Rabbi Richard Hirsh, executive director of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and co-chair of the Clergy Task Force, says that “when rabbis mention something in public, it signals that they are approachable and available to talk about the issue. It may help someone who may be ambivalent to step forward.”
Over the weekend we learned that our congregation was not alone. We know of a number of instances where the prayer – and related discussions – became part of Rosh Hashanah services, including Rabbi Hirsh’s services in Toronto; Temple Ahavat Shalom in Palm Harbor, Fla; and at congregations in Annapolis and Bethesda, Md. Rabbi Marla Hornstein in West Bloomfield, Mich., plans to use it in her Kabbalat Shabbat services throughout October.
Misheberach “sightings” have been rolling in to JWI all morning, and everyone who used or heard it describes it as a powerful and meaningful addition to their holiday experiences.
If the Misheberach was part of your New Year, please tell us about it in the comments! And if you’d like it included in your upcoming Yom Kippur or other service, it’s available on our website: Please help yourself. Encourage your Rabbi to make this part of the upcoming services, I am sure he/she will be happy to hear from you, too!
~ Susan W. Turnbull, Chair of JWI’s Board of Trustees