March 11, 2022 – In response to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in the omnibus government funding package, Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director of Women of Reform Judaism, released the following statement:
We celebrate the long-overdue reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. For 28 years, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been one of the most effective means of addressing domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking in the United States. While we are disappointed the VAWA Reauthorization Act failed to close the “boyfriend loophole” to ensure that dating partners would be prohibited from owning a gun if convicted of domestic violence, the bill includes important enhancements to VAWA that respond to the growing needs of diverse populations, promote survivors' economic security and access to safe housing, invest in gender-based violence prevention programs, increase access to safety and justice for Native American survivors, and improve services for survivors.
For decades, we and the broader Reform Movement have advocated for the prevention of violence and increasing access to services, safety, and justice for domestic violence survivors. Our Jewish tradition teaches us that the impact of personal injury, including sexual violence, is multidimensional: “One who injures another person is liable on five counts: for the injury itself, for pain, for healing, for loss of time, and for embarrassment” (Bava Kamma 8:1). The repercussions of such violence reverberate far beyond the specific moment of the act, such as lifelong trauma. Gender-based violence violates the Jewish belief in kavod ha’briyot, the fundamental dignity of every individual, and is a violation of the sanctity and wholeness of the body and health of another person.
We applaud the bipartisan group of congressional leaders and the Biden Administration for re-committing to preventing gender-based violence and protecting all survivors. We also commend all the advocates who have worked tirelessly for this legislation to be renewed. We will continue to advocate for Congress to build on this legislation and further protect victims of domestic violence including by closing the “boyfriend loophole.”
Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) is a network of Jewish women working together to empower women and communities worldwide through the bonds of sisterhood, spirituality, and social justice. WRJ, founded in 1913, is the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, the central body of Reform Judaism in North America. For more information about WRJ, please visit our website at www.wrj.org