Due to the nation-wide lockdown imposed on Israel recently, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau addressed both the rabbis in Israel and the diaspora, on being aware of and sensitive towards the phenomenon of violence against women in their communities. He also instructed rabbis to turn to aid agencies when needed.
The address, which was presented as a letter and in a virtual format, was born out of an appeal made to him by the heads of Bat-Melech, a domestic violence aid organization for the orthodox community.
"The lockdown and social isolation caused by the coronavirus caused a large pressure cooker effect. Within this recent period, many outbreaks of violence occurred in families where violence exists at the foundation of a marital relationship," said Chairman of the organization, Tzilit Jacobson in a statement.
She added that during May of this year, there was a 400% increase in the number of calls made to the organization compared to May last year.
In Rabbi Lau's letter, he called on rabbis to be aware of the situation and to keep an eye on their communities and the families in them. "Serve as an ear for the plight of the daughters of the families," he said.
He announced that there are a number of aid organizations for women that are suffering in their own homes from physical and verbal abuse. "Call on them when it is needed," he said.
Rabbi Lau's virtual address mirrored Jacobson's comments.
"During this period that the coronavirus is affecting the whole world, it is especially affecting homes in Israel," Rabbi Lau said.
"Because of the lockdowns, because of the financial effects, because of this period where everyone is forced to be together, it can lead to bad situations, situations of pain, of violence, situations where sometimes there is no other corner to go to for help. The effects of the pressure cooker get bigger, and spill over, and lead to bad situations," he said.
"We appreciate all the good people all the good people that are doing everything in order to help families that are in distress and distance violence and hardships from homes.
"This is a time that all of us, to return and remind ourselves, the base of the Jewish foundation is first and foremost the Jewish family."
He addressed the rabbis and told them that it is their responsibility and obligation to make an effort to "strengthen the special composition that is Israel, so that houses will live in peace, equality, health and happiness."