Abuse Prevention

Abuse Prevention 

JCFS Chicago offers culturally sensitive education and training to increase awareness, prevent and respond to abuse in Jewish homes and communal institutions.

Partnership for Safer Communities 
Safer Communities promotes interpersonal safety, health and well-being in synagogues, Jewish day schools, Jewish day and overnight camps and other Jewish institutions through education, training, and policy review.

Safer Synagogues engages congregational leadership – clergy, professional and lay – leaders in learning about the impact of abuse across the lifespan, mental health, addiction & recovery. Congregational staff are provided with professional training and facilitated discussion sessions which increase their capacity to respond to the needs in their community. Safer Synagogues has been facilitated in 35 Chicagoland synagogues since its inception.

  • Objectives and Benefits
    • Clergy and staff and other leaders gain a heightened understanding of their roles and responsibilities – including legal obligations – to intervene when congregants are experiencing abuse, mental illness, and addiction.
    • Congregants become more aware of community resources and feel more comfortable turning to the rabbi and other synagogue leaders for support and guidance.
    • Synagogues are guided in review and development of individualized programs, policies, protocols and best practices.
  • Topics Addressed 
    • Keeping Children Safe 
    • Teen Relationships and Teen Dating Violence 
    • Adult Intimate Partnerships and Domestic Violence 
    • Abuse and Neglect of Older Adults 
    • Substance Use, Misuse and Addiction 
    • Mental Health, Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention
    • Safer Schools engages Jewish day school administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and students in education and training about healthy relationships, handling accusations or disclosures of abuse or neglect, and corresponding legal responsibilities. Over 1,000 students annually attend this program.
  • Objectives and Benefits
    • School personnel have a heightened understanding of their roles and responsibilities – including legal obligations – to safeguard students' overall well-being.
    • Parents learn about child safety and how to be proactive in safeguarding their children. 
    • Students learn how to keep themselves safe.
    • Schools are guided in the review and development of individualized policies and procedures for protecting students, their families and school staff.

Safer Camps engages Jewish day and overnight camp administration and counselors in training and discussion about establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries, the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, responding to disclosures or suspicions of abuse and neglect and mandated reporting laws. More than 1200 Camp Directors and Counselors are trained in this program annually. Consultations to discuss policies and protocols are available by request.  

  • Objectives and Benefits
    • Camp personnel have a heightened understanding of their roles and responsibilities – including legal obligations – to safeguard camper's overall well-being.
    • Camp personnel feel more comfortable responding sensitively and appropriately to situations involving suspicions or disclosures of abuse and neglect.

Boundaries, Abuse and Mandated Reporter Training 
JCFS offers Boundaries, Abuse and Mandated Reporting training to schools, synagogues, camps and organizations that serve children and families. Training includes discussions about establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries, the signs and symptoms of child abuse and neglect, responding to disclosures or suspicions of abuse and neglect, and mandated reporting responsibilities. This training meets the requirements established by the State of Illinois Department of Public Health.  

Safer Shabbat
Synagogues are encouraged to designate one Shabbat a year as Safer Shabbat, to celebrate the strength within abuse survivors of all ages and circumstances and bring the community together to acknowledge the hardship and inspire empowerment. We have designed a Safer Shabbat Resource Guide with language and prayers focused on abuse prevention and survivor support.  The Guide also includes additional educational material for synagogues to share with congregants via their newsletters and/or website to enhance their Shabbat table discussions and beyond

Professional Network
JCFS brings together abuse professionals, advocates and allies to engage in discussion, explore best practices, build collaboration and examine strategies that inspire optimal services and supports to the Jewish community and beyond.  The Professional Network meets quarterly for networking and professional development. Between gatherings, participants share resources, opportunities for advocacy and support one another as we strive to support the community.

To attend meetings, contact:
Elizabeth Ury, Director of Jewish Community Engagement, 847.745.5421

To report suspicions or knowledge of child abuse or neglect, call the DCFS Hotline at 1.800.25.ABUSE (1.800.252.2873

Support & Funding:
The Leo S. Guthman Fund and other generous donors

For more information please contact:
Samantha Spolter, MSW, Safer Communities Coordinator, 847.745.5430