Jewish Girl of the Week – Shaina

New Question:  Why should you be Jewish Girl of the Year?

Click here to see Shaina’s video response.

 

What brought you to DC?
I came to DC to attend college at GWU. Coming from a small town, I knew that I wanted to live somewhere a bit more exciting, and I loved the opportunities for activism that life in DC provided. Now, five and a half years later, I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else!

Why work at a shelter for domestic violence?
I have always wanted to make a difference, but it took some time to find a cause that I was truly passionate about. As a women’s studies major, I spent significant time learning about the dynamics of domestic violence. There is a clear link between homelessness and domestic violence, and victims with no safe place to flee will often simply stay with an abuser to avoid life on the street. In DC, where there is such a dramatic lack of affordable housing (as anyone who lives here can tell you!), this problem is even more serious. Besides the importance of safe housing itself though, I love my job because of the extraordinary people I work with, both staff and program participants. I know it’s cheesy, but not many people can say that they come home inspired from a day at the office.

If we know someone who has been affected by domestic violence, what should we suggest?
The most important thing for survivors of domestic violence to recognize is that they are not alone, and that they did not do anything to deserve the abuse. If they need advice, or simply someone to talk to, they can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. The organization I work for, DASH, also has a great list of resources available on its website, www.dashdc.org. Another helpful tool is a safety plan, which sets out ways to stay as safe as possible in a variety of environments and scenarios. There is a safety plan sample on DASH’s site, and domestic violence advocates can assist in creating one as well.

Who do you want to be when you grow up?
Barbra Streisand. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure that I need more than my Jewish nose and a love of musicals to make that happen.

Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Wherever there is a good service! I really like Adas Israel’s Shir Delight Shabbat services, and as a Debbie Friedman superfan, I also love 6th in the City for its musicality. Amazingly, until a little over a year ago, I didn’t know much about DC’s Jewish scene. Thankfully, my boyfriend, Noted DC Jew Clark, pulled me in!

How are Jewish values a part of your current profession?
Judaism is completely intertwined with social justice! The concept of tikkun olam has always been what makes me proudest to be a Jew. I love the idea that making the world a better place isn’t about any sort of personal gain; it is simply part of our job as Jewish people. “Repairing the world” can take shape in giving women and families the space, resources, and support needed to heal from violence.

What do you think is important for young adults to know about domestic violence?
First, it is important to remember that domestic violence is not an issue that impacts only one population. Rather, it cuts across racial, economic, religious, and gender lines. Be aware of signs of domestic violence, and be an ally to those who are suffering in abusive relationships. Because abusers thrive on isolating their victims, simply being there to listen to those who need help can make a huge difference.

What is your favorite thing to do when you are not at work?
Unfortunately for my boyfriend and my neighbors, I love to sing. Though I was involved in a lot of musical theater in college and high school, I no longer have the time. For now, my performing is limited to solo concerts of Hair, Chicago, and Funny Girl, sung from my shower or car.