Jewish Federation: Women of Vision, High Holidays Food Drive

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. Celebrate annual in United States. Awareness purple ribbon. Day of Unity. Prevention campaign. Stop women abuse. Poster, banner and background. Vector
#VoicesHavePower: How Our Women of Vision Support Survivors in the Jewish Community
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 Jewish Family and Children’s Service 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. It points 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,” founder Shana Weiner wrote. “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, which breaks down misconceptions about violence in the Jewish community. Dinah also trained 50 lawyers to support survivors of domestic violence 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.

Our 2020 High Holidays Food Drive Rises to Meet a Challenge
Ending food insecurity is a major priority at the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, and the High Holiday Food Drive is one of our biggest initiatives in the fight against hunger.

Each year, synagogues from across the region participate, collecting tens of thousands of pounds of food for all five of our food pantry sites. And this year, economic downturn and a high unemployment rate mean that need is greater than ever.

“We have seen an increase in new recipients and an increase in the number of visits from all recipients,” said Phil Holtje, our Mitzvah Food Program associate. “One pantry location has seen a dramatic weekly uptick of 40%.”
Typically, the food collection process is part of the participating synagogues’ High Holiday programming, with congregants collecting food and bringing it to their synagogues. But this year, almost all services are virtual, and many synagogues are not open to the public. To further complicate matters, our team doesn’t have access to the SHARE Food Program warehouse in North Philly, where we usually store and sort donated food.
“COVID-19 really threw a wrench into all this,” Holtje said. “Synagogues have had to get creative in how they collect for us.”

Some congregations are still collecting items at their synagogues and coordinating pickups with our Mitzvah Food Pantry staff. Others are delivering the goods directly to our pantries, while still others are collecting money from their congregants or purchasing items in bulk and having them delivered to the pantries.

Holtje stressed the importance of the food drive and anti-hunger initiatives in general.

“COVID-19 has put families out of work,” he said. “More often than not, they’re forced to choose between paying for food and paying other bills. We expect the economic impact of this pandemic to stretch well into 2021, so that means that we have to be there for our community.”

Learn more about the High Holidays Food Drive or make a donation to our Mitzvah Food Program here .

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