By Rebecca McCarthy

Thanks to a $7,500 grant from the Jewish Women’s Fund of Atlanta, Jewish Women International is teaming up with Hillel at UGA to help raise public awareness of sexual assault and violence on campus.

Both JWI and JWFA are committed to promoting social change for Jewish women and girls, especially by engaging students on college campuses.

“The goal is to change the culture on the campus,” said Deborah Rosenbloom, the vice president of programs and new initiatives for JWI. “Whatever we do will be student-driven and will be appropriate to the Georgia campus.”

JWFA Executive Director Rachel Wasserman said the group was “impressed by the difference JWI is already making on campuses with both healthy relationship and financial literacy workshops. We are thrilled that this work will not only help create safer campuses for all women, but, with the expert guidance of JWI, will allow our Jewish students to be the ones to create that change.”

Mara Price

Mara Price

Mara Price, the Jewish life coordinator for Hillel at UGA, said that as classes begin, she will assemble an advisory group and steering committee of Jewish students.

Weekly services at Hillel attract 70 to 80 students, Price said.

Rosenbloom will work with Price and the University of Georgia students. Price said the money will be used for specific programs and could include speakers, space rental, ads and educational materials.

Rosenbloom said she doubts that the Jewish students can reach everyone on campus, but the written materials could help spread the message.

“I feel like sexual assault is something that college campuses across the country are dealing with,” Price said. “We want students to know that it’s OK to stand up for yourself and for others. For some of them, it’s their first time being independent, and they need to know they have a voice.”

Rosenbloom said that after the Georgia students decide how they want to proceed, she and Price will help them create materials for distribution.

JWI has worked on other campuses for years, talking to students about violence and healthy relationships through the Safe Smart Dating program, which involves a primarily Jewish sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, and a primarily Jewish fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau, to spread the message of healthy dating through peer-led discussions and good conversations.

“We provide Jewish students with a chance to interact and engage with their peers,” Price said. “This new initiative will allow our students to step up as leaders in what is one of the most important issues on campuses nationwide.”

There will be faith-based discussions for Jewish students at Hillel during Shabbat services and holidays such as Purim, Rosenbloom said. The awareness program is scheduled to last through the academic year, but Rosenbloom’s goal is to make the UGA program sustainable.

“We’re going to widen the program out to others on the Georgia campus,” she said. “And we hope to partner with other groups and organizations on campus.”