Movie screening and panel acknowledged sexual assault in Jewish community

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By Daniel Chavkin, staff writer, @dchav96

Phil Jacobs, the former editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times, took part in a movie screening panel at Maryland Hillel that discussed the issue of sexual assault Tuesday evening.

The movie, titled “Standing Silent,” followed Jacobs as he wrote a series of articles about sexual molestation within the Orthodox Jewish community for the Student Coalition for Preventing Sexual Assault.  

Jacobs, who is a survivor of sexual molestation, told his story in the documentary and helped others share their stories as well. The documentary also showed the challenges that Jacobs faced exposing prominent rabbis in communities where they are both spiritual and emotional leaders.

“It impacted everything,” he said. “I learned who my really close friends were because some of my friends dropped away.”

Even though Jacobs faced ridicule, he said he believes the movie showed how his articles helped bring these acts to light.

“One of the positive things that came out of this [movie] was at least the conversation was put out on the table in the Orthodox community in Baltimore,” Jacobs said. “Now there are places you could go to be safe.”

The panel also included Fatima Taylor, director of CARE to Stop Violence at the University Health Center, and Cheryl Kravitz, president of CRK Communications. Kravitz is also a domestic abuse victim and works with many different organizations aimed at preventing domestic violence.

“Sometimes these men and women are so afraid and so embarrassed, they don’t want to say something,” Kravitz said. “The best thing to do is to just be there for them.”

Kravitz told the story about how she spent years in an abusive relationship.

“One of the things I’ve since learned about abuse is that sometimes what the abuser does…is very seductive and you think everything’s going to be OK,” she said. “I didn’t realize what domestic violence was.”

Taylor said people are starting to open up more about sexual assault.

“I definitely think we are seeing an uptick in services,” she said. “People are more aware.”

Taylor also discussed the variety of people who come to CARE and how the organization tries to give these people the help they need.

“Within the sexual assault umbrella, we see folks who’ve been sexually abused as a child, they’ve experienced sexual assault on campus, they’ve experienced rape,” she said. “People are wanting to talk about it a little more.”

The event was organized by the Student Coalition for Preventing Sexual Assault in collaboration with Hillel.

“This event was meant to be a little bit smaller and more conversational,” said junior community and behavioral health major Zoey Spiliadis, a member of the Student Coalition for Preventing Sexual Assualt. “Our main goal is to educate people on what is happening on campus, the sexual assault that takes place…and the kind of health you could get.”

Standing Silent Full Poster
The “Standing Silent” film poster. Taken from Standing Silent Facebook page.
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