Ripple Effect: Senseless
Recently there was a terrible incident in Israel.
A 32-year-old social worker, mother of an 8-month-old baby was brutally stabbed to death by her husband.
I find it incredibly disturbing that nobody saw it coming.
No one knew a thing.
There were no signs to anyone on the outside.
The husband seemed fine.
They seemed in love.
They seemed like a happy family.
The word “senseless” kept coming up again and again in the Israeli media. What a senseless death. What a senseless crime. As if somehow there could ever be any sense in a story of this kind. It makes no sense when someone young is taken away, plucked from life, for no reason at all.
Frankly, I must add that to me, car accidents, illness, and or natural causes that take a young person away from the family that loves them does not make much sense to me either.
To me, it is senseless that this man did not understand the essence of what a relationship should be. It is senseless to take someone’s precious, precious life because of something they did or even worse something imagined that they did.
The hardest thing I find in teaching self-worth is shifting the paradigm.
When people feel worthless somehow that gives them a license to commit senseless actions. I have to add that those actions, that to us seem senseless, make complete sense to the people doing it.
“Ms.,” she says to me. “She kept looking at me like I’m nothing. So, I licked her out of her frame, ya know.”
This girl put the other girl in the hospital with broken ribs, a broken nose, fractured shoulder, and internal bleeding.
She definitely “licked her out of her frame.”
“No, I don’t know,” I say.
“Who cares what that woman thinks?” I add.
“Do you think you are nothing?” I ask.
“No,” she says.
But I know this woman well. I know she feels transparent in her own life.
When you feel unworthy, when you feel small, you will commit senseless actions. My students tell me the most outrageous stories, stories of incredible violence over things that to me seem ridiculous. So much violence is rooted in this need to be respected. The mere thought of disrespect triggers senseless actions.
I tell my students that no one makes you feel small; we do that to ourselves.
Somewhere on Israeli social media, someone asked,
“What did she do to make him snap?”
She didn’t have to do anything.
This had nothing to do with her, and everything to do with him.
My students tell me, “Ms., I can’t let them dis me and just walk away. I’m not gonna and let them take my respect.”
“No one can take your respect away,” I say.
“It’s always yours to keep.”
I think about this beautiful young woman in Israel who was taken away from her baby and her family in such a tragic way. I know that the core of change in domestic violence, and in violence at large, is a conversation about self worth.
Knowing that you are worthy of all the good in the world, knowing that you are enough and wonderful no matter what someone says about you or to you.
Being so confident that nothing, NOTHING will make you feel inadequate or not enough. The crazy thing is that tragically this is true both for the victim and the perpetrator.
If we all only had the confidence to not let others make us feel small, then maybe the perpetrator would not be violent, and the victim would have been able to leave.
The woman‘s family keeps repeating that there were no signs; they had no idea. I’m sure that this is true.
I wish the sweet, beautiful woman said something to someone, but more than that, I wish she said to herself,
“I don’t need this” to whatever shit he did to her.
Do not read this the wrong way.
I do not judge the victim AT ALL and neither should you, ever. EVER. There is no, “She should have.”
There is never “She could have.”
There can only be “What and how can we do better?” And it is urgent that we do better.
Creating spaces where we discuss relationships, love and self-worth. We must teach women and men, because only when we teach everyone do we have a chance to combat this awful epidemic.
“Look, Naomi,” she said to me.
This was a woman I met when I was writing my show about domestic violence. When I met her, she was a fresh victim, her face still swollen from the horrible beating she had gotten.
I remember her telling me that she made him angry.
I remember telling her. “You didn’t make him angry. He is angry.”
When we met, she was wearing a lot of jewelry. There was a disconnect between all the jewelry and the sadness of her being. She explained to me that each piece of jewelry was for a time he did this or that to her — broke her nose, ripped her clothes, cut her hair and more.
I remember driving home mortified at my lack of words. My heart so heavy I almost physically felt it pulling me down.
“Naomi, look outside,” she said to me, her face clean of makeup and not a single piece of jewelry on her body.
Outside was a new car.
“I sold all the jewelry and I bought a new car,” she told me.
“A brand-new car,” she said, beaming, her smile so beautiful it took my breath away.
He had tried to get all the jewelry back, but the court wouldn’t let him.
“You gave it to her as a gift. You don’t get to take it back.”
I was in the courthouse when the judge said those words.
Sometimes, there is justice!
“That is amazing!” I said, looking at the car.
“No,” she said, “that is me taking control.
That is me starting over.”
“You are not starting over,” I tell her. “You were always there. You are just coming back.”
“Yes,” she said.
We embraced, a deep, long embrace.
“I forgot who I was, but now I remember.”
That was a sentence that totally made sense to me.
Let us all remember to teach our children how worthy they are.
Let us teach them that no one can, should or try to make them feel small or unimportant.
Let’s make sure no one feels ashamed to speak up when in trouble.
Let us all make it our responsibility to remind people how worthy they are, by loving them for exactly who they are, no ifs and/or buts. And maybe, just maybe, somehow, we will never hear of senseless losses of life, ever again.
Watch this video from our teen
Naomi Ackerman is a Mom, activist, writer, performer, and the founder and executive Director ot The Advot (ripple )Project a registered 501(c)3 that uses theatre and the arts to empower youth at risk to live their best life .
"Please note that the posts on The Blogs are contributed by third parties. The opinions, facts and any media content in them are presented solely by the authors, and neither The Jewish Journal nor its partners assume any responsibility for them. Please contact us in case of abuse."
Remember the BDS movement? Remember the rise in anti-Semitism? Remember Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg? Remember the Iran deal? The covers of the Jewish Journal...
What happens when a married couple spends too much time at home together? Divorce, apparently. In China, local registrars are reporting a surge in couples...
The good news: I have food, a roof over my head, a sweet (although needy) dog, two amazing kids and an incredible network of friends...
We all are hunkered down. Schools, shuls and community centers are closed. Restaurants are empty. There is little joy in life right now, especially for...
The Palestinian Authority wasted no time when seven staff members of a Beit Jala hotel tested positive on March 5 for the COVID-19 virus, contracted...
Earlier this month, Pat James, 77, started to feel sick in the duplex he shared with his wife, Jean, at the Texas Masonic Retirement Center...
Europeans are bracing for even more restrictions amid the rising number of coronavirus fatalities. Italy Calling the pandemic the country’s gravest post-World War II crisis,...
When 32-year-old Rachel Gemara volunteered for the new COVID-19 ward in Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center at the end of February, she had no idea...
Update: This article has been updated to reflect Knesset Speak Yuli Edelstein's resignation. The fear is real and understandable. Throughout history, often a crisis has...
I can’t recall a time when life felt so dark and foreboding. Our economy is shutting down. Whole industries are crashing. Retail businesses are closing....
Passover is one of the most cherished dates of the Jewish calendar. It is a celebration of our redemption from slavery in Egypt to freedom...
This year for Passover, I’m thrilled to share some traditional recipes from an Israeli friend, Hedva Amrani, which we’ll include at our seder. Amrani is...
Update: This article has been updated following the Los Angeles County Department of Health's more stringent rules announced the night of March 21. Under previous...
Chicago native Debbie Steinberg never imagined she’d have to cancel her dream wedding celebration and move it to the living room of a friend’s house....
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, jewitathome.com is just one collaborative online community that has helped Jews connect and engage now that all communal gatherings...
While many synagogues have responded to the coronavirus shutdown by taking their services and rituals online, there’s one Jewish tradition that simply cannot be performed...
With schools shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, parents are turning to online resources to educate their children from home. In an effort to...
Television fashion design competitions like “Project Runway” have launched careers and made household names of talented newcomers. Season 4 winner Christian Siriano now dresses top...
Most people know French actor Marcel Marceau as the most famous and perhaps greatest mime of all time, but few are aware that he was...
Is Spider-Man’s story a retelling of the story of Cain and Abel? Is the dynamic tension within the supergroup the Fantastic Four meant to be...
You are on a ship in the middle of a tempest. The ship is pitching and heaving. Water is sloshing over the deck. The crew...
Orthodox Jewish dating isn’t like secular dating. In the Orthodox tradition, there isn’t supposed to be any contact — no kissing, no hugging, no holding hands...
Each of us is experiencing anxiety, discomfort and fear right now. We are living with real circumstances that have repercussions, unknowns and yet-to-unfold realities. We...
A young woman tries to break away from the restrictions of her ultra-Orthodox community and discovers that it’s easier said than done in “Unorthodox,” a...
One verse five voices. Edited by Salvador Litvak, the Accidental Talmudist When you present an offering of meal baked in the oven, [it shall be of]...
Thanks to the virus, all our friends and synagogues are taking to the internet to beam Shabbat to us in the privacy of our own...
Because the community has now been ordered to shelter in place to halt the spread of the coronavirus, the Journal has compiled a list of...
The Guardians of the Los Angeles Jewish Home held its annual real estate dinner on March 5 at the Beverly Wilshire hotel. The event drew...
Donald Alschuler died March 1 at 84. Survived by wife Lynne; daughters Trina (Eric), Melanie (Michael); 4 grandchildren. Hillside Arleen Bachner died Feb. 25 at...
Now that we’re all self-isolating in our homes with cases of toilet paper, two questions come to mind: One, how are we going to pass...