Jews strive to achieve balance between individual and communal identities. Although we take pride in individual accomplishments, alone we are less than what we can be. Rabbi Hillel states, “If I am not for myself, who is for me? And if I am only for myself, what am I?”
Community unity can be a powerful vehicle of expression, activism, and change in Jewish tradition. Joyfully, we celebrate communal simchas. Pensively, communities pray on Sabbath and holidays. Mournfully, communities attend to the needs of the deceased and pay respect to their grieving families. As a community, we understand and share others’ joyful or sad emotions openly and unabashedly. However, are we capable of empathy when learning a community member is a victim of domestic abuse? While collectively showing support for her, are we openly addressing her physical, emotional, and financial needs without doubting the authenticity of her claim or fully understanding her plight? Are we embarrassed to help or do we not want to get involved? Do we individually step back in silence or as a community step forward to become a voice for this victim?
The victim hears, “She would leave him if she really was being hurt by him,” but is it really so simple to leave one’s abuser?
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