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Safety Respect Equity Coalition Publishes Seminal Report Documenting Sexual Harassment and Victimization in the Jewish Communal World

August 12, 2019.

The Safety Respect Equity Coalition announced today the release of a first-of-its-kind report on sexual harassment and victimization within the Jewish communal world titled “We Need to Talk: A Review of Public Discourse and Survivor Experiences of Safety, Respect and Equity in Jewish Workplaces and Communal Spaces.” This inaugural research examines the experiences of victim-survivors, the factors that contribute to victimization, responses by Jewish institutions and leaders, and how we can improve our institutions to create safer, more respectful environments for work, community, and worship.

 

As the #MeToo movement has grown, it has laid bare an inescapable truth: the Jewish community is subject to the same kind of issues, inequities and power dynamics that exist in other communities. Research findings indicate that numerous risk factors to victimization and discrimination are at play, including power imbalances, the organizational structure and operations of Jewish institutions, and Jewish values and treatments of gender. Furthermore, this research reveals that there are distinctive and unique Jewish values and concepts that were used to silence victim-survivors, and that have [inadvertently] created a culture of silence and secrets.

 

“What is critically important is that research was conducted, and that it was centered on what survivors had to say about their experiences,” stated Dr. Guila Benchimol, Advisor to the Safety Respect Equity Coalition and co-author of the report. “Research on victimization in the Jewish community is lacking. Unless we understand the experiences of survivors, and what was helpful and harmful to them, we cannot effectively move forward to create a Jewish communal world that is safer, more respectful, and fairer for all,” Benchimol continued.

 

“While media has a critical role in shaping public discourse, it is also shaped by it,” states co-author Marie Huber from Third Plateau, a social impact strategy firm. “The public discourse analysis identified areas for critical reflection and spoke to how public and ‘insider’ discourse in the Jewish community might be shaping norms and experiences that aren’t safe, respectful, or equitable,” Huber continued.

 

The Coalition brings together more than 100 diverse organizations to help drive and support change under a common vision and shared banner to eliminate sexual harassment, gender bias and inequity in the Jewish communal world. In late 2018, Coalition Leadership commissioned this research in an effort to broaden and deepen the conversation around gender discrimination and sexual victimization and harassment within the Jewish community. Following the release of the research report, the Coalition will use the report findings to set the agenda for their future work and priorities.

 

The full research report and an executive summary are available to the public on the Safety Respect Equity Coalition website at https://safetyrespectequity.org/research-report/

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About the Safety Respect Equity Coalition:

The Safety Respect Equity (SRE) Coalition works to ensure safe, respectful, and equitable Jewish workplaces and communal spaces by addressing sexual harassment, sexism, and gender discrimination. Currently composed of more than 100 organizations, funders, individuals, and experts, the Coalition serves as both catalyst and resource: to support, coordinate, and amplify change in Jewish organizations, as well as to accelerate a broader cultural shift. To learn more, visit: http://safetyrespectequity.org.