Rosh Hashana is a Special Time to Give a Helping Hand…
For most, Rosh Hashana is a happy and special time of year, celebrated with family. Sadly, this is not the case for everyone.
What we read about in the newspapers in relation to the increase in family violence is mirrored in our Jewish community. Jewish Care is seeing an unprecedented number of families in distress, experiencing family violence, like Ava*.
Ava and Ethan* met in high school and married in their early twenties. They had a son but struggled to have their second child. Ava eventually fell pregnant with a twin boy and girl seven years later. As with most families, both Ava and Ethan had to work to pay the ever increasing bills, especially with three children.
When their oldest son had started high school and the twins were in prep, things changed.
Ethan was unexpectedly retrenched from his job which led to increasing financial stress for the family. This impacted his mental and emotional health, leading to a downward spiral for this once happy family.
The longer Ethan was unable to find employment, the more depressed he became. Though he was the one not working, he took a tight hold of the family’s budget. Ethan would not let Ava spend any money (the money that she earned) without showing receipts and asking permission.
Ava would try to reason with Ethan but it always ended in a fight. Ethan began to yell at Ava over the slightest issue and soon began to throw things at her. As his temper escalated, he would also punch his fists through the walls, terrifying Ava. This happened more and more frequently, often when the children were around.
Frightened by the person her husband had become, Ava tried to seek professional help but Ethan refused. Then one day, while the boys were out with friends, the neighbours heard Ethan yelling loudly and throwing horrifying insults at Ava. Concerned for Ava’s safety, one of the neighbours called the police. This was not the first occasion that the police had been called to the house by neighbours. By this time, Ethan had held Ava against the wall with his hands around her neck. She was gasping for air. Thankfully, the police had been called and an intervention order was taken out, removing Ethan from the house.
Mirroring his dad’s behaviour, Ava’s oldest son, who had always been a kind and well-meaning child, started displaying similar behavioural issues. He would regularly yell and verbally abuse his mum and his younger siblings.
Ava realised that she needed to do whatever she could to help her children.
When she eventually managed to leave Ethan, she found that he had drained what was left of the savings in their bank account. Ava was unable to cover the mortgage and other living costs for her family on her limited income.
At risk of homelessness and with escalating debts, Ava contacted Jewish Care in despair. Ava also needed urgent help with her oldest son’s behaviour.
Ava initially met with a social worker at Jewish Care. Jewish Care’s Financial Counselling team then negotiated with the bank to lower Ava’s mortgage repayments. Ava was also granted an interest free loan from Jewish Care’s Empower Loans to help her pay off her other debts.
Ava was supported by Jewish Care’s social worker to apply for an extended intervention order and was assisted to navigate the court system. She was successful in obtaining a two-year intervention order. Jewish Care’s Service Coordination team also provided Ava with the tools to support her children who had been affected by family violence.
Later on, Ava was helped by Jewish Care’s Employment Centre to find a better paying job.
Now, eleven months on, Ava and her three children are doing well. Her oldest son’s behaviour has improved remarkably, so much so that he now helps Ava in taking care of his brother and sister. Though Ava continues to work exceptionally hard, she feels safe and happy and looks forward to coming home each night.
Ava said at her most recent visit with our social worker: "I am so thankful to Jewish Care. There was a time that I did not think I would see the light at the end of a dark tunnel. There is peace in our home and my children are now happy and actually thriving."
There are so many other people like Ava in our community who need assistance, whether it be for housing, disability services, financial aid, financial counselling, employment or any other vital service provided by Jewish Care.
You can make a difference to those in need in our community which is why I am asking you to please give generously at this special time of year.
Wishing you a Shana Tova. May we all be blessed with a happy and sweet New Year!