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A Prayer for Confronting Sexual Harassment

A Prayer for Confronting Sexual Harassment

A brunette woman from the back with her hair up and her hands on her neck as she looks out over a body of water

God of dignity and decency, Creator of man and woman, Source of Wisdom Who calls on us to demonstrate respect and practice restraint…

Many of us come to you this Sabbath full of embarrassment, shame, humiliation, guilt, outrage, anxiety, and disgust.

Too many men have spoken basely and behaved horribly.

Too many women have been subjected to sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.

May the “Me Too” campaign of this week be blessed with the staying power to live well beyond the news cycle.

May we seize the opportunity for meaningful action so that this week’s mounting willingness to speak out proves to be far more than a momentary protest amidst millennia of abuse.

May men resolve to neither participate in these vile acts nor perpetuate the circumstances that allow them to continue.

Whether the harasser is a family member or a friend, an admired colleague, or a total stranger, give us the courage to call out both the behavior and those who participate in it.

Whether the victim is a family member or a friend, an admired colleague or total stranger, give us the empathy to support them in making their voices heard and their grievances known.

Ashamnu. We have sinned. We are not immune. Jews are both victims and victimizers in this disturbing realm of behavior. All too often we have been complicit and complacent when what was called for was compassion and courage.

Let us strive to make our homes, our congregations, our board rooms, staff rooms and classrooms places where no one can degrade anyone.

Ufros Aleinu Sukkat Shelomecha, Source of Peace, spread over us your shelter of peace so that all us can practice what Hillel preached: “What is hateful to you don’t do to anyone.”

May this be our blessing,and let us say: Amen.

Rabbi David Wirtschafter is the rabbi of Temple Adath Israel in Lexington, KY. Confronting violence in classic Jewish texts and contemporary society is the focus of his work in progress, The Torah They Never Taught You, Bad Stories from The Good Book.

Rabbi David Wirtschafter
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