Battling Domestic Abuse in the Orthodox Home

October 23, 2018

Sometimes, a broken engagement is a good thing. 


Years ago, when most of my friends were already married, I was set up with someone who seemed great "on paper." I was eager to become a married woman. We dated and became engaged.  Shortly after the l’chaim, my parents shared with me some concerns they had regarding my chosson’sinteractions with me. I was entranced by the whirlwind that is engagement. I rationalized each of my parents’ concerns away. However, one evening, after a particularly upsetting exchange with my chosson, I suddenly remembered the warning signs of an abusive marriage from the Shalom Task Force  seminar I had attended in high school. Through the prism of what I had learned in the seminar, I was able recognize red-flag behaviors as my chossonand I continued our wedding preparations. Although it took a lot of guts, with the support of my family and friends, I resolved to end the relationship. At the time, I thought I would never get married, but I also knew this uncertainty was preferable to the certainty of a doomed marriage. 


A few years later, I married a wonderful man with impeccable midos.  Our marriage is filled with love and joy. The man I almost wed has since married and divorced. He refuses to give his ex-wife a get, as she is held hostage as an agunah.


I recently ran into the STF educator who presented the Shalom Task Force workshop at my High School. I held back tears as I thanked her for the gift of my beautiful, peaceful life. We instantly bonded in a unique relationship that I will cherish forever.


About Shalom Task Force

In 1992, responding to the shocking revelation that there were women in the Orthodox community being victimized in their own homes, Nechama Wolfson, along with a group of women, created the Shalom Task Force Hotline.  This was a revolutionary and monumental feat at a time when the problem of domestic abuse was not acknowledged.  The groundbreaking confidential hotline, dedicated to Orthodox victims of abuse, was the very first of its kind. Since then, more than 21,000 callers have benefited from the advice and support of the hotline’s highly trained responders. As Rav Pam z’l said at the inaugural Rabbinical Conference, “… previously, these women had no address. They now have a place to turn.” 


It became clear that if Shalom Task Force was to affect a change in the community, the focus must be on  prevention.  With widespread rabbinic support, The Bertha Kaufmann Preventive EducationWorkshopsfor Young Men and Women were developed.  Educators trained by Shalom Task Force present programs in yeshiva high schools, seminaries and universities. They conduct interactive workshops that teach young women and men about forging healthy relationships and avoiding abusive ones. The program reaches over 3500 students annually in the US and Israel.   The goals of Shalom Task Force are further achieved through community outreach and education for Rabbonim, lay leaders, professionals and parents.  Recognizing the cultural diversity among our communities, Shalom Task Force established Beit Shalom to serve the Bukharian community and Ohel Shalom to serve the Persian community. The Shalom Workshop program was developed to assist engaged and newly married couples in forming and maintaining healthy relationships.  


Fulfilling another critical need,Sarah’s Voicewas created to provide free legal services to victims of domestic abuse.  Since 2010 Sarah’s Voice has provided more than 1000 survivors with free comprehensive legal services, including assistance with orders of protection, divorce proceedings and custody negotiations.


Please join Shalom Task Force on Sunday, November 4, at our Annual Brunch, to be held at the Sephardic Temple, 775 Branch Blvd, Cedarhurst, NY. 


Our Esteemed Honorees:

Guest of Honor                                    Shani Traube

Community Leadership Award           Rabbi Peretz Steinberg 

Professional Leadership Award          Rachel Hercman LCSW

Dedicated Service Award                   Frady Kess LCSW

Hakarat Hatov Award                          Dr. Sarah Chana Silverman PhD


Please join Shalom Task Force as we honor Shani Traube as Guest of Honor.  Shani is a Chesed superstar who has volunteered her time with several community organizations.  However, over the past 18 years it is Shalom Task Force which has captured her heart and her focus. She is involved in many aspects of the organization, including chairing the annual brunches with her special flair. She lives in Lawrence with her husband, Dr. Charles Traube, a well-respected cardiologist. She is the proud mother of Dr. Chani Traube and Mark Goldman of Jamaica Estates, Dr. Eli Traube and Ilana Eidelman of Woodmere, and Adeena and Dov Kerner of West Hempstead.  


Rabbi Peretz Steinberg,  Rabbi  Emeritus of the Young Israel of Queens Valley, is receiving the Community Leadership Award. Rabbi Steinberg is a long time resident of Kew Gardens Hills.  He learned in Yeshiva Torah Vodaath and Beis Medrash Elyon, and received Smicha from Rav Moshe Feinstein.  Rabbi Steinberg has been a supporter and advisor of Shalom Task Force since its inception.  The organization benefited often from his profound understanding of the delicate issues involved in marriage and divorce, and his vast experience in these areas.


Rachel Hercman, LCSW, is receiving the Shalom Task Force Professional Leadership Award.  She is a psychotherapist with expertise in relationships, intimacy, and trauma. She is in private practice on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and is a noted speaker in communities, universities, and professional trainings throughout the tri-state area and beyond. As a consultant for Shalom Task Force, Rachel has partnered in creating new programs and conversations in the Jewish community and in shifting the way sensitive topics are addressed. A native of Woodmere, she lives in Riverdale with her husband and children.  


Frady Kess, LCSW, is receiving the Shalom Task Force Dedicated Service Award.  Frady is a longtime resident of Flatbush.  She has been a devoted STF volunteer for the past 15 years.  Frady is a trained presenter of the STF Healthy Relationships workshop, and has facilitated the program in numerous Brooklyn high schools.  After witnessing the far-reaching impact of the Shalom Task Force on individuals and communities, Frady decided to take her training one step further.  In 2010 she graduated with a Master's Degree in Social Work.  Frady is currently a social worker in private practice where she specializes in treating victims of domestic abuse and relational trauma. 


We are honored to recognize Dr. Sarah Chana Silverman, PhD, with the Shalom Task Force Hakarat Hatov Award.  She is the Director of Program Development and Evaluation at Shalom Task Force.  She completed her undergraduate work at the University of California at Berkeley and received her doctorate in Social Anthropology from the State University of NY at Stonybrook.  Dr. Silverman directs Shalom Task Force's grant program, composing, managing and evaluating grants from foundations as well as federal, state and municipal government departments.  Dr. Silverman has a role in financial management for STF, and she works with community partners to expand services for victims and preventative education programs.  She lives in Lawrence, NY with her husband, close to her children and grandchildren in Far Rockaway.


Shalom Task Force, is the only one of its kind in the Orthodox community.  Abuse thrives in silence.  Please join us and our honorees on November 4th, 2018 at 9:30 at the Sephardic Temple in Cedarhurst and help us break the silence.


For reservations, or to make a donation, please visit

For more information phone 516-773-3399 or email

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