Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Linda C. Degutis


With the background that Jewish women stay in abusive marriages twice as long as their non-Jewish American counterparts, we attempt to understand the religious and cultural factors that may inhibit Jewish women from leaving violent relationships, and examine Scriptural and Rabbinic texts as to Jewish beliefs regarding spousal violence. A variety of academic sources and primary scriptural texts were analyzed for religious and cultural attitudes towards Jewish intimate partner violence. Eight Jewish victims of spousal abuse, five Rabbis and seventeen community support workers were interviewed. Jewish women face a variety of unique issues with regard to how domestic violence is experienced. Issues of communal shame, fear of anti-Semitism, learned accommodation, community disapproval, divorce law and other cultural and religious factors act as barriers to leaving. Biblical, Talmudic, and Rabbinic texts, however, speak clearly against marital violence and support a community effort toward victim support. There are thus conflicts between actual Jewish religious doctrine, and the interpretation of Jewish values amongst Jewish community members. There are social and cultural barriers to Jewish women leaving their abusive relationships, but an analysis of religious doctrine offers a source of strength for women to leave. The onus is on the Jewish community to effect change by breaking the silence and renouncing abuse.

Open Access

This Article is Open Access