For 30 years The Jerusalem Rape Crisis Center has been committed to assisting and empowering victims of sexual abuse, as well as raising social awareness of the prevalence of violence against women. The Center has run over 1000 workshops, and the hotline receives 5500 calls a year. The Center runs training courses for educators, preparing volunteers to go into Israeli schools and run workshops for students. Since November, I have been spending one morning a week in secular Israeli public schools running interactive workshops with students in 7th – 12th grade.
Recently, when I met with a mixed-gender group of 9th graders, there was one boy who sat with his arms crossed the whole time. He didn’t speak. He was obviously a kid with a lot of social power, of the kind that does not involve participating in class. At the end of the hour-and-a-half workshop, we went around the room, and the students were supposed to share something they’d learned, or that surprised them. When the exercise got to him, I held my breath, waiting for him to say he had learned nothing, or to ask if he could pass. Instead he uncrossed his arms, sat forward in his seat, and said with remarkable earnestness (in Hebrew of course, but I’ll translate), “Today I learned that I need to pay attention to whether things I do bother others, and if I notice that my behavior does bother them, I know I need to stop.” Now, I wouldn’t deliver the message in quite those words, but really what he said got to the heart of the education we are doing. It is exciting to see that the main points of the workshops are finding their ways into the minds and hearts of even the most hostile students.