Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis has said it is the community’s duty to “wipe out” every trace of domestic violence from Jewish homes.
Speaking at the launch on Thursday of a cross-communal campaign raising awareness of the issue, he said: “There is no place for violence in our homes, where every person has a right to feel safe and protected.
“It is our duty to wipe out every last trace of it. I urge everyone to take a stand against the scourge of domestic violence.”
He said supporting the campaign, which sees Jewish Women’s Aid, the Board of Deputies and the synagogue movements join forces, was “a no brainer”.
He urged rabbis to ensure that women at risk were aware of the support available from communal organisations.
“We need to speak out and urge victims of abuse to use the opportunities that are there for them and provided by the community to protect them and look after them,” he said.
Rabbi Mirvis attended the campaign launch at Brent Cross shopping centre, in north-west London, where experts were on hand to talk to women about violence in the home.
He said the problem within the Jewish community is an “unfortunate reality that we need to come to terms with.”
Luciana Berger, the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavetree, also attended the launch.
She said the issue affected all communities.
“We need men and women speaking out about it. There is never any excuse for domestic violence and we need to do everything to tell women there is support available to them if they need it.”
JWA chief executive Naomi Dickson said: “By having the Chief Rabbi speak out it makes people in the community know that it is OK to come out and seek support.
“If we have people at the top of the community speaking out, it destigmatises the whole issue. It is really important because there is so much embarrassment about coming forward.”
The cross-communal imitative was timed to coincide with International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
Jonathan Arkush, president of the Board of the Deputies, said: “Our eyes must be open to the scale and severity of abuse committed in the home and we have to ensure that any person who falls victim to it knows where to look for help.”
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, Senior Rabbi of the Reform movement in the UK, said: “The language of the ketubah, the Jewish wedding contract, outlines responsibilities, but also rights. Every woman has the right to peace at home.”
Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism said that emotional, verbal and physical domestic abuse was “dismayingly widespread”.
He added: “For those who suffer such cruelty, often for long years, it is extremely frightening, humiliating, isolating and painful to acknowledge. JWA has the experience, sensitivity and professionalism to help.”
Rabbi Danny Rich, Senior Rabbi of Liberal Judaism, called members of the community to support the work of JWA, urging: “Don’t close your eyes to domestic abuse”.