260 members of the Bergen County Jewish community joined in supporting the Seventh Annual Project S.A.R.A.H. Breakfast. on Sunday, March 3, 2013 at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, Teaneck, NJ. Project S.A.R.A.H. (Stop Abusive Relationships at Home) is a Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence Project funded by the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety – Stop the Violence Against Women Grants Program in conjunction with Passaic County Women’s Center, the Jewish Family Service and Children’s Center of Greater Clifton/Passaic, private donations and foundations. Project S.A.R.A.H. has distinguished itself nationally, reaching into the Orthodox and Jewish community at large and changing the climate of denial by addressing issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
The Project S.A.R.A.H. breakfast is the major community fund raiser for this organization that has helped hundreds of Jewish women and their families since its inception. The funds raised enable the program to provide an array of emergency and outreach services that are otherwise not funded. Project S.A.R.A.H. provides technical support to the entire Jewish Family Service network of agencies on dealing with victims, particularly those from the orthodox Jewish community.
This year our guest of honor was Elke Stein, LCSW, Director of Project S.A.R.A.H. Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Services. Elke has led the program in the provision of clinical services to victims and survivors for 14 years. These services include responding to hundreds of hotline calls, implementing crisis interventions, and providing ongoing training to Rabbis, Rebbetzins, Mikvah attendants, social workers, court and hotline personnel, and other professionals to respond to revealed abuse. She has developed and supported statewide resources that serve as a model for social service agencies across the country. Elke has helped bring the issue of child sexual abuse to the public by introducing the Aleinu Child Safety Kid Program to Jewish day schools throughout NJ.
The Community Service Award was presented to the Mikvahs of Bergen County, represented by the Mikvah Directors, who are in a unique position to recognize and provide help and support to families struggling with domestic violence. These honorees were Rackel Bouskila, representing the Fort Lee Mikvah, Doris Brandstatter, representing the Fair Lawn Mikvah, Rochelle Gans, representing the Claire Katzenstein Mikvah of Paramus, Bryna Malitzky, representing the Teaneck Mikvah Association, Medinah Popper, representing the Englewood Mikvah Association and Nechama Shutyak, representing the Mikvah Sarah Devorah of Tenafly. Present in the audience was Dr. Cheryl Kramer, who has personally trained the attendants in the New Jersey mikvahs for the past 10 years.
The Volunteer Recognition Award went to Ari Erdfarb and Yonatan Wolk of Marketing Dynamics, who are pillars in the community.
Dr. Jay S. Sweifach , Professor at Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University was the keynote speaker, discussing his research in the role of the Mikvah in domestic violence prevention.
At the breakfast Marcia Roth, Executive Director of the Mary Byron Project presented the Roth Award to Project S.A.R.A.H., The Mary Byron Project cultivates and supports efforts that extend beyond crisis management to attack the root causes of this epidemic and help build safer, healthier communities. The organization has added to its standard award agencies that assist the underserved populations. Project SARAH was the first program in the country to receive this national recognition.
Project SARAH is available to any member of the community who may be dealing with issues of domestic violence or sexual abuse. Their highly trained staff are ready to come to do community education, meet with parents who are interested in learning how to protect their children, or to arrange screenings of relationship videos designed to help young people recognize the signs of potential abuse in dating relationships.
For more information about Project S.A.R.A.H. or to make a donation, please visit us at www.projectsarah.org or call us at 973-777-7638.