A grant from a federal agency is funding a three-year long effort to combat violence against women and girls in Baltimore’s Orthodox Jewish community. The U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women this month gave $350,000 via Jewish Women International to Baltimore's Counseling, Helpline & Aid Network for Abused Women (
), to develop an awareness and education campaign.
Of Greater Baltimore metro’s 93,400 residents in Jewish community, 21 percent, or 19,614 are Orthodox Jews, according to the latest demographic survey. Baltimore’s Orthodox Jews, the most traditional branch of Judaism, live primarily in the Park Heights-Cheswolde and Smith-Greenspring neighborhoods.
CHANA Executive Director Nancy Aiken is developing the campaign in partnership with Jewish Women International
(JWI), a Washington, D.C., advocacy nonprofit that applied for and received the federal grant.
Located in the Park Heights neighborhood, CHANA is an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. It provides counseling, crisis intervention, legal advocacy and a safe house.
Aiken says the campaign will be based on JWI’s “Good Guys” curriculum that JWI developed in 2008 as the first positive masculinity program for Jewish boys. Aiken intends to reach adolescent boys through male leaders in the Jewish community.
“Previously, this was considered a women’s issue but the thinking has changed to engaging men and boys as allies,” says JWI Director of Programs Deborah Rosenbloom. She says she sees the CHANA campaign as a national model for faith-based communities.
Aiken says the rate of domestic violence in the local Orthodox community is the same as in the general community. But the community met the requirements of the grant for culturally-specific communities and enables CHANA to create a campaign geared to its members.
“To religious communities, it is important to target the remedies to them, to make it relevant to their religious values,” she says.
The justice department’s Office on Violence Against Women awarded a total of $12.6 million to 20 social service agencies around the country.
Sources: Nancy Aiken, Counseling, Helpline & Aid Network for Abused Women: Deborah Rosenbloom, Jewish Women International
Writer: Barbara Pash