April 10, 2024

An Interfaith Gathering Against Sexual Assault

On Tuesday evening we hosted Speaking Up for Those Who Can’t: An Interfaith Gathering Against Sexual Assault. It was an incredible event and remarkably meaningful as we came together with participants from different faiths in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  

In her welcome remarks, Rabbi Alexandra Klein of our host synagogue, Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel in South Orange, lamented the fact that we need a designated month to remind us of this brutal reality. And throughout the evening – recognizing the horrific acts inflicted upon women, and men, on October 7; recounting stories told by released hostages; and honoring victims throughout the world who have suffered similar injustices in silence – we realize that it is only through speaking out together that we can chart the path to healing and hope for a better future. 

Together we bore witness to the horrific acts of October 7 and stood in solidarity with the hostages still being held. We heard from Yuval Donio-Gideon, the Israeli Consul for Public Diplomacy; Leat Corinne Unger, the cousin of Omar Shem Tov who is still in captivity; and Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. Each speaker helped us gain a clearer understanding of what transpired on October 7 and in the aftermath. 

But most importantly, we were lifted up by the heart-felt support of our neighbors.

Five sisters in faith, representing Roman Catholic, African-Methodist Episcopalian, Latter-Day Saints, Hindu, and New Life Ministries spoke words of understanding and empathy on behalf of their communities. We also enjoyed the performance of two gospel singers from Aurway Repertory Theatre and praise dancers from New Life Ministries, all of whom came to share our sense of collective grief, anger, and determination.  

Important bonds have been formed and we will continue to grow them. We left hopeful that we are not alone and with some calls to action to make a difference immediately. 

  • Tell your legislators to #BringThemHomeNow  There are still 134 hostages being held in Gaza, including young women. According to testimonials from released captives, the hostages are being ill-treated, including being constantly assaulted by their captors. Every second that passes could be their last. Take a minute and make a call to save their lives. 
  • Urge the UN to take a stand  Ask the UN Secretary-General to #EndTheSilence and speak out about Hamas’ use of rape as a weapon 
  • Demand Nikon denounce award An image featuring the dead body of Shani Louk, a victim of the 10/7 massacre, was recently awarded the Photo of the Year. Call upon Nikon, as the main sponsor of this award, to publicly denounce this award-winning photo and demand that Reynolds Journalism Institute revoke this award immediately. 

A special thank you to local elected officials – Assemblyman Rev. Reginald Atkins, Assemblywoman Garnet Hall, District Director for the NJ Office of Congresswoman Sherrill Jill Hirsch –  and our co-sponsors: Anti-Defamation League, Hadassah Northern New Jersey, Hillel of Greater MetroWest NJ, Israeli American Council, Jewish Family Service of MetroWest NJ, Jewish Women’s Foundation of New Jersey, Namaste Global, National Council of Jewish Women, Essex County Section, National Council of Jewish Women, West Morris Section, New Jersey Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Rachel Coalition, Summit Marches On, United Universalist Faith Action NJ.  

Leadership committee members were Jody Hurwitz Caplan, Rebecca Gold, Jordana Horn Gordon, Amanda Greenblatt, Leslie Dannin Rosenthal, Elana Wilf Tanzman, and Robin Weidhorn.