Gender-based Violence


Gender-based violence is violence that is directed at an individual based on their sex or gender identity. Gender-based violence may include physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse, threats, coercion, and economic or educational deprivation. Gender-based violence is rooted in unjust power relations, structures, and social and cultural norms, and as a result, worldwide, women are disproportionately harmed by gender-based violence. Thus, historically much of the Reform Movement’s efforts to ameliorate gender-based violence have focused on violence against women.

No nation free from the scourge of gender-based violence. One out of three American women and one in two Canadian women will be physically, sexually, or otherwise abused during her lifetime.

Gender-based violence takes many forms and is rarely limited to a single category. Abuse may be physical, sexual, or emotional; it may take place in the home or outside; and in some situations, gender-based violence may be considered socially acceptable to some. Too many believe that gender-based violence happens to “other” people, yet the impacts of gender-based violence transcend economic, ethnic, geographic or religious lines. Violence and harassment occur in our schools, our camps, our workplaces, and our houses of worship. The Jewish community suffers the same rates of intimate partner violence as the national average.

The Mishnah teaches, “One who injures another person is liable on five counts (that is, responsible for paying for five factors): for the injury itself, for pain, for healing, for loss of time, and for embarrassment” (Bava Kamma 8:1). This multidimensional understanding of personal injury addresses the insidious and pervasive nature of physical and sexual violence, and the way that these displays of violence have repercussions far greater than the act itself.

What's New

Supporting Survivors of Domestic Violence in the Jewish Community

October 28, 2022
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) in the U.S. This year, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) chose the theme of #Every1KnowsSome1 to highlight how common domestic violence is. Each of us may (or likely) knows someone, either in our Jewish community or our secular communities, who has been impacted by or is a survivor of domestic violence.

Is it Ok to Hug You?

April 8, 2022
Do you belong to a “Hug and Kiss” congregation? In our communities, we greet each other with big hugs often accompanied by a kiss. This is part of our culture. These actions are fine if the two people are in consensual agreement. But, what happens when community cultural behaviors cross the line?

Breaking up with Rape Culture

April 4, 2022
If you would have told 18-year-old Kate that she would one day openly talk about the most painful, and for a long time, “shameful” experience of her life to hundreds and hundreds of people, her jaw would still be on the floor. I am a survivor of sexual assault (yes, survivor, not victim). Phew.

Related Press Releases

WRJ Calls for Proper Ethics Policies and Procedures in Response to Reform Movement Investigations into Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Misconduct in Reform Institutions

March 8, 2022 - Following Reform Movement investigations into reports of egregious cases of sexual harassment, abuse, and misconduct, Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) adopted an urgent statement calling for the implementation of proper ethics policies and procedures throughout Reform institutions. Noting that many reported incidents have taken place at the congregational level, WRJ is calling on its

Reform Jewish Women Call for Stronger Policies and Enforcement to Put an End to Sexual Harassment Within the Jewish Community

New York, New York, March 21, 2019 - In response to recent allegations of sexual harassment by Jewish philanthropist Michael Steinhardt, Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) issued the following statement: We are appalled and disheartened by the allegations of sexual harassment by Michael Steinhardt detailed in today’s New York Times article, yet sadly we are