JWI Responds to NYT article on Michael Steinhardt; calls for sea-change in Jewish community

Contact: Meredith Jacobs, (d) 202-464-4803//(c) 301-529-8591, [email protected]

Washington, D.C. – Jewish Women International (JWI), the leading Jewish organization working to end violence against women and girls, responds to "Michael Steinhardt, a Leader in Jewish Philanthropy, Is Accused of a Pattern of Sexual Harassment" (Otterman and Dreyfus, New York Times, March 21, 2019).

JWI CEO Lori Weinstein issues the following statement:

"Sadly, today's New York Times article detailing multiple accusations of sexual harassment by philanthropist Michael Steinhardt is not surprising. Let us begin with the simple statement that we believe the women. There is a common thread throughout – a pattern exposed that speaks to the veracity of the recollections of the women, all of whom experienced Steinhardt's harassing actions at different times. Those who would say these were just words, that he never physically touched the women, do not understand the dynamics of power. Those who brush off his words as jokes, or excuse his words as a reflection of his zeal for Jewish continuity, is to demean the personal and professional value of all women working in the Jewish community. To say he is a harmless 80-year-old man is to ignore not only his decades' long behavior but the power of his example to future generations of Jewish men and donors. To give excuse to an older generation is to ignore that young men are watching and learning.

We applaud the women who gave voice to his pattern of sexual harassment. As a Jewish organization working on the issues of sexual misconduct and abuse, we know how much more challenging these issues are when they involve donors - but we can no longer allow funding to purchase silence."

Jewish Women International (JWI) is the leading Jewish organization working to end violence against women and girls domestically and internationally. JWI is a Steering Committee member of the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women and convenes the Interfaith Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and the Clergy Task Force to End Domestic Abuse in the Jewish Community, and is a member of the Gun Violence Table. JWI's advocacy efforts focus on the passage of legislation that supports women and girls, ensures their economic security, and protects their right to live free of violence.