When I was young, I remember that if I was sick or scared, I would long to be curled up under the blankets next to my Mom. Because next to her, safe and warm seemed to be the safest place in the world. Now that I am older and grown, the blankets seem smaller and Mom seems smaller too. The magical belief that nearness to Mom banishes all that could hurt me had fallen by the wayside and the cold truth that there are some monsters that my mother cannot save me from has griped my soul. I pray to G-d to banish the monsters that threaten me and hurt me. I pray that G-d that the evil away and keep me safe. However, sometimes I need something physical. I need that physical place of peace in my life.

For me, that place of peace has always been my synagogue. My community has worked hard at creating a safe place at our synagogue. This past fall, I when I needed it the most, my synagogue was there for me. Most of them did not even realize how much they were helping me. I had to interrupt my preparations for Yom Kippur this year for something I wish I never had to do. As the sun was slowly beginning to set and I was about to leave for synagogue, the door bell rang.

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It was the two detectives from my rape case. They had a form for me to sign saying that I did not want them to continue to work on my rape case. After a long, hard week of talking with them, doing an intrusive rape kit at the hospital, and being advised of my options it had come down to this moment. So as they pulled out of the drive way and I locked my door to begin the journey to synagogue, I felt really the weight of the world on my shoulders. All week I had felt as if I had been wearing a sign that had said what had happened and left a barrier between me and the rest of the world. I longed to be able to feel again.


When I arrived at synagogue, no one but my rabbi knew what had happened. However, as I walked to my seat, I felt enveloped in the welcoming presence of my community. It is the same feeling I get now when I wrap myself in the tallit before morning service prayers. I felt at home. I felt supported as a person and supported as a survivor just by being there. I was afraid when I walked in that I would be overwhelmed or that it was too soon. I realized that being a Jew (or in my case at that point, on my path to soon becoming a Jew) is to be in community and that in my community is where I would be able to find healing.

I appreciate that since then, every one I have talked to has not condemned me for being raped but has been completely supportive. So many people out there are terribly unhelpful to women when they have come through horrible situations like this. I have an amazing rabbi, great parents and good friends. I am lucky to be so supported and I count my blessings. 

Every week in synagogue we pray for those who need healing. We don't mention what kind of healing they need, just that they need healing. As we sing a song to bring them healing, we pray that they have a healing of body, soul and mind. I love that because it is so important. When we are sick or hurt, often there needs to be a more thorough healing to bring a person to wholeness. In my case, I still often feel like I have a long way to go towards wholeness and then other days I feel like I'm fine. I think healing is a journey but I know that this is a journey I can make with my community by my side. And with G-d by my side, I know I will definitely find healing. 

I challenge myself, now that I am a Jew in my community, to find a way to help create the same safety and sacredness that I treasure so much. I challenge myself to be a person that seeks to preserve my community and not tear it down through words or actions. I want to be a welcoming person that is able to support the people around me through life's storms as I have been supported. I want to help as I have been supported so that even if I don't know what is going on in their lives, I can still help.
I have a challenge for you, reader. I challenge you to create safe places for those in your life that need safe places.
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