More than 200 women from across the Five Towns, Far Rockaway, and Brooklyn attended Shalom Task Force’s presentation of “Flowers Aren’t Enough” at the Sephardic Temple in Woodmere on November 11. The one-woman play, written and performed by Naomi Ackerman, tells the story of Michal, an upper-middle-class woman who finds herself trapped in an abusive relationship.
“Flowers Aren’t Enough” is a fictionalized version of several true abuse narratives, and the performance dramatically conveys Shalom Task Force’s message.
“People like to think that domestic abuse doesn’t occur in their community,” explained Rachel Marks, a board member of Shalom Task Force. “The message that we wanted to convey is that, unfortunately, domestic abuse can happen to your neighbor, to your friend, and even to a family member.”
Founded over 20 years ago, Shalom Task Force promotes peaceful family relationships and healthy marriages for Jewish families. Shalom Task Force maintains an anonymous hotline that receives more than 1,000 calls a year. They also provide legal services to victims. Shalom Task Force runs education programs for men and women, teaching the fundamentals of healthy relationships. Another program, SHALOM Workshops, provides engaged and married couples with the tools to build healthy marriages.
“Shalom Task Force was formed by a group of women in our community who witnessed examples of domestic abuse and decided to do something about it.” explained Marks.
Thanks to an outreach effort involving several local shuls, the organization has seen an influx of younger women eager to help. The committee that organized this performance was composed mainly of new volunteers. “This is a very important cause that needs the support of our community,” explained Bayla Samter of North Woodmere, who decided to become involved after hearing a Shalom Task Force speaker at a shul. “There is a tendency to avoid facing such painful topics and there’s a sense of shame about these issues. We need to let people know there’s support for them.”
After the play, which has been performed across the world to critical acclaim, audience members engaged in a lively question-and-answer session with Ms. Ackerman and Toby Carrey, director of education for Shalom Task Force. Audience members then spoke with staff members of Shalom Task Force while light refreshments were served.
“People didn’t know that this could exist in the Jewish community,” said Chaya Eisner of Far Rockaway, who helped organize the event. “The play and the question-and-answer session opened their eyes: people were asking about advice for their own children.”
For more information about Shalom Task Force and how to volunteer, or to find out about S.H.A.L.O.M. Workshops in your area, visit www.shalomtaskforce.org. The Shalom Task Force Hotline can be reached at 1-888-883-2323. All calls are completely anonymous.