#MeToo: Discussions for Change
Welcome to #MeToo: Discussions for Change, a reading group organized by JOFA in response to ongoing conversations around sexual assault and the Jewish community. We are grateful that you will be using this discussion guide to join in conversations being held in living rooms throughout North America and Israel. We hope this will be an opportunity to foster meaningful dialogue and envision ways to build a safer, healthier Jewish community.
As content to help inform and shape discussions, this guide includes links to posts published on JOFA’s Blog hosted at The Jewish Week. JOFA’s Blog continues to serve as a platform for women and men who want to share their experiences and pioneer avenues for change. If you are interested in sharing your own story, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
How To Organize Your Discussion Group:
Below you will find a list of posts that have been organized into two categories, Personal Narrative and Communal Responses. The first includes first-hand accounts from individuals who have struggled with sexual abuse, assault, and harassment. The second includes opinion pieces on how best to respond to sexual misconduct in the Jewish community.
The full list of suggested articles is hosted on this page: JOFA #MeToo Discussion Group. We suggest sharing this link with those attending the discussion group, highlighting two to four articles that you’d like all attendees to read. You may want to ask participants to prepare questions/thoughts they had while readings the pieces, or to share the quotes that resonated with them the most.
To begin the discussion, ask participants to share any reflections or questions they had while reading. Consider the following questions to help guide and enrich your discussion:
- What kinds of barriers make it challenging for victims to report abuse in general? What kinds of additional barriers exist in the Orthodox community?
- Some people argue that halakhot such as shemirat negiah (refraining from people of the opposite gender) or yichud (refraining from being alone with a person of the opposite gender) are safeguards that protect people from abuse. Do you agree or disagree? Why? Do you think that this is different with two adults as opposed to an adult and a child?
- Many have called for “nuance” and “balance” in responding to allegations of abuse, particularly when it comes to religious leadership. What do you think the correct procedure should be for dealing with reports of abuse in the Orthodox community?
- What kinds of safeguards can we begin putting in place to protect men and women from abuse in the Jewish professional world? In their personal relationships?
- How can we be integrating abuse awareness and prevention in Jewish day schools? Camps? What might this look like for students of different ages?
- Why do you think that the #MeToo campaign only asked women to post “Me too?” Do you think that male victims of assault should have been included in the campaign?
- Some say that the #MeToo campaign implicitly equalized all forms of assault into the same category, from Harvey Weinstein’s actions to Aziz Ansari’s. What do you think are the consequences of this equalization? Do you think this aspect of the “Met oo” campaign was positive or negative? Should we draw a line somewhere regarding what we consider “assault?”
When wrapping up the session, ask everyone to share one practical thing they can do to create a change in their own community. Feel free to share your group’s reflections with JOFA or on social media. We encourage you to share your experiences by writing a formal piece to be published on JOFA’s Blog.
We hope that you find this discussion guide to be useful and that it leads to meaningful conversations in your living rooms and beyond!
All Our Best,
The JOFA Team
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to learn how to host your own JOFA Blog Reading Group, please email Rivka@jofa.org.