For MitzpehWorkshop participants and its facilitator, Gabi Kirsch, on the right. (Charles Summers/Mitzpeh)
Hamsa, this university’s Jewish LGBTQ+ student organization, partnered with Jewish Women International on Monday evening to host a workshop on sexual violence prevention in the LGBTQ+ community in STAMP.
The workshop, called ‘Kavod,’ was designed by JWI to educate college students on how sexual violence is experienced disproportionately by LGBTQ+ Jewish students and the challenges that come with the multiple layers of stigmatization these students face.
Meira Goldfischer, Hamsa’s president and a senior criminology major, said that she began planning this event after JWI reached out to Hamsa about participating in the program.
Goldfischer was asked to host the workshop by Hannah Chosid, JWI’s manager of prevention and training programs. Currently, the Kavod curriculum has only been implemented at this university and Towson University.
“For this workshop, we only have a handful of people,” Goldfischer said. “Realistically, this is a hard topic, not many people can come take time out of their busy schedules to talk about something as difficult to talk about as sexual assault.”
The workshop’s facilitator, Gabi Kirsch, was brought in by JWI to teach the curriculum. She currently works for Hillel International as the assistant director for digital fundraising.
“This was my first time facilitating this curriculum,” said Kirsch. “JWI may be putting on this workshop with other universities. In that case, they said they’d keep me in mind to facilitate.”
At the outset of the workshop, Kirsch introduced JWI’s four-pronged definition of consent, which emphasizes the importance of coherently given consent, without the influence of substances or tangible pressure. The session continued with participants delving into the reading materials.
JWI’s curriculum incorporates sources from Jewish tradition, the Torah and Gemara, as well as articles that illustrate the unique difficulties that LGBTQ+ victims of sexual violence face when trying to speak about their experiences. Gabi ended the workshop by distributing a list of resources for support in dealing with sexual violence.
In the future, Chosid and the rest of JWI are hoping to bring this curriculum to other universities.
“Data shows us that queer students experience higher rates of sexual violence than other students,” Chosid said. “But we don’t see other programs that specifically address sexual violence in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially from a Jewish lens.”
Earlier this semester, Hamsa hosted a flag-making event. Every other week, the organization holds a discussion group for LGBTQ+ Jewish students.
“I’m really hoping that this educates people, because this topic is really not discussed often,” said Goldfischer. “It’s specific, however it’s a really big problem that everyone should take the time to learn about and understand.”