Friday, September 20, 2019

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On March 13, the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., announced the trial conviction of Roderick Covlin, 45, for murdering his 47-year-old wife, Shele Danishefsky Covlin, at her Upper West Side apartment on New Year’s Eve in 2009.

“Shele Danishefsky Covlin had a soaring career, two adoring children, and the love and respect of her many friends, colleagues and relatives. But Ms. Danishefsky also had a devastating secret: she was being psychologically tortured by Roderick Covlin,” said District Attorney Vance. “She suffered at the hands of this defendant for months, and as soon as she sought to sever ties, he murdered her in a brutal and vicious crime. That he delayed justice for Ms. Danishefsky’s family by lying to them and to law enforcement in a cover-up scheme only serves to underscore the depravity of his actions. And while this guilty verdict cannot undo the trauma of Ms. Danishefsky’s loved ones, I hope that it helps them as they continue to heal from their painful loss.”

Project S.A.R.A.H. staff attended one afternoon of the more-than-eight-week trial. As each witness was called to testify, a picture of the beautiful and dynamic Shele Danishefsky Covlin was shown on the screen in the front of the courtroom. That picture will forever haunt us as we listened to testimony from young men in kippot sharing their knowledge of the family: knowledge acquired in shul, at kiddush and in other social interactions. We well understand that domestic violence happens in all communities and at every socio-economic level. The painful reality that the most extreme and deadly threat to safety destroyed a life and forever altered the long-term life trajectory of the survivors left us feeling powerless to save this innocent daughter, wife and mother’s life. It simultaneously leaves us determined to redouble our work in the areas of awareness and treatment options for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse in the Jewish community.

For over two decades, Project S.A.R.A.H. has been here to educate, train, treat and provide access to services. We are honored to have found communal leaders eager to partner in spreading awareness in our community including rabbis and rebbetzins, kallah teachers, mikvah attendants, day camps, day schools and dedicated members of our community. We invite you to our annual breakfast on April 7 so we can continue to educate the community on how to prevent abuse and, when necessary, how to quickly access expert and culturally sensitive services that are available right here in New Jersey 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We hope that the family finds some comfort in this verdict and thank them for helping to ensure that future victims can be helped before tragedy occurs.

Esther East, LCSW
Executive Director of JFS Clifton