Jewish Women’s Aid’s virtual event ‘Lockdown Unmasked’ drew an audience of 530 on Thursday evening in what was our biggest ever event. Broadcaster and journalist Emma Barnett was in conversation with economist and bestselling author Noreena Hertz and Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs, as they discussed the impact of the pandemic on women experiencing domestic abuse.

Welcoming the record virtual crowd, JWA CEO Naomi Dickson highlighted the increase in domestic abuse reported nationally, confirming, “We’ve seen the same at Jewish Women’s Aid”. She also described how “Women are telling us that they’re increasingly anxious, increasingly prone to experiencing physical abuse and they’re very, very concerned about their children who are traumatised by what they’re witnessing in the home.”

Emma Barnett, who has been appointed the new presenter of flagship Radio 4 programme Woman’s Hour from January 2021, thanked JWA for the work we do and spoke about her experience interviewing women and their families who have been affected by domestic abuse, noting that “it’s still a subject shrouded in shame”.

Noreena Hertz, in conversation with Emma, talked about a human tendency towards ‘optimism bias’ and how this might impact on the Jewish community’s ability to tackle domestic abuse, saying, “If you’re Jewish you may find it extremely hard to believe that that’s happening in your community”.

Nicole Jacobs gave a summary of what the new Domestic Abuse Bill will mean for women experiencing domestic abuse, and emphasised the importance of specialist services like Jewish Women’s Aid, explaining that when a woman is subject to abuse, “there’s so much pressure, so much fear, that of course the first step you want to take is to someone that you trust, who you know, who you know would understand you and your background and the pressures you feel and so Jewish Women’s Aid is a really great example of why that is so important.”

Throughout the event, attendees were invited to contribute using the chat function, and dozens of supportive comments were made about the work of Jewish Women’s Aid and the need for further awareness raising on the subject of domestic abuse in the Jewish community:

“Thanks to all at JWA and other specialist organisations like this up and down the country. Women need you!”

“Excellent presentation and superb organisation shining a light into the dark corners of our community and ensuring victims are supported and enabled to cope with domestic abuse.

“Thank you for a moving and very thought-provoking evening, great event, hope this event helps you to keep up the vital work.”

On the success of the event, CEO Naomi Dickson said, “We were delighted to secure the support of Emma Barnett and our wonderful guests, but we never could have imagined that over 500 people would attend! We are completely overwhelmed, not just by the scale of attendance but also the expressions of support we received throughout and after the event from so many people. The whole JWA team really feels like there is real support for a more open discussion about domestic abuse in our community and that can only be a good thing.”

The event was part of Jewish Women’s Aid campaign #AMaskWontProtectHer launched on 16 November to raise awareness of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic abuse in the Jewish community. The campaign encompassed the charity’s annual cross-communal Shabbat on 20-21 November and a fundraising appeal.

The activities also tie in with the international 16 Days of Activism to counter violence against women, which begins on 25 November and is marked across the world.

You can watch the event at and donate to the appeal at