Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
BEIT SHEMESH – It was only when her sons came at her with knives that she realized keeping quiet was not going to work.
For nine years, her rabbis had told her not to speak up about her husband’s verbal, physical and sexual attacks. They assured her the abuse would pass, that if she obeyed his every wish the attacks would end and he would stop telling their grown sons she was a bad mother.
But when her sons began to threaten her, she knew it was time to leave.
Taking her youngest children, she turned to Yad Sarah, a highly regarded Israeli charity founded by former Jerusalem mayor Uri Lupolianski. The organization mainly focuses on medical services, but it also runs a domestic abuse division geared toward Orthodox Jews. A professional there directed her to Bat Melech, a shelter for battered religious women.
“It was amazing,” said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous. “I was sure I was not a normal person and they were nice to me.”
The wall of silence surrounding sensitive domestic issues in the haredi community has long been seen as an impediment to successfully addressing them. Yad Sarah and Bat Melech have sought to change the situation, and their efforts appear to be bearing fruit.
A decade ago, haredi community leaders rarely spoke openly about violence against women. Now leading rabbis are working with experts to fight abuse in the community.
“We’ve succeeded in that they talk about it publicly,” said Shlomit Lehman, a professor of social work who founded the Yad Sarah domestic abuse division. “There was always family violence, but they kept it secret. Our connection with the community and leadership is stronger. There’s discretion and professional care.”
Lehman started the division in 2000 with two therapists. Now there are 16 serving 150 patients a month, making Yad Sarah the second-most active domestic abuse center in Israel.
Bat Melech, founded in 1995, runs two shelters and is expanding its Beit Shemesh facility. The Crisis Center for Religious Women, which refers abuse victims to professional care, is organizing an international conference slated for December 2014 on preventing violence and abuse in the religious community.
Until recent years, experts say, haredi rabbis would deal with cases of domestic abuse privately; only rarely would they make referrals to professionals or recommend divorce. Victims often were stigmatized and their children had a harder time finding marriage partners.
Both Bat Melech and Yad Sarah have made rabbinic outreach a central part of their strategies. Yad Sarah launched a rabbinic committee with representatives of Israel’s major haredi organizations. Those leaders in turn instructed communal rabbis to refer battered women to the two organizations.
Bat Melech founder Noach Korman says only a minority of haredi rabbis still ignore domestic violence and most support his organization’s mission.
Still, discretion remains a paramount concern for haredi rabbis, many of whom still refuse to advocate publicly for the two organizations. Leading haredi papers will not run ads for Bat Melech and Yad Sarah, though online haredi publications do cover them. Haredi schools also do not permit Yad Sarah to run seminars on domestic abuse for their students.
Though growing numbers of women have sought treatment in recent years, Korman and Lehman say work remains to be done. Bat Melech at times has to turn women away, in part because of the high number of children who sometimes accompany them. The shelters have served 800 women and, Korman estimates, more than 3,000 children.
“People aren’t waiting,” Lehman said. “They come when they’re dating or in the first year of marriage, so there are more options. Their entire lives are ahead of them.”
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Some Israelis seem to have forgotten no one has yet tracked down the murderers of Ali Bawabsheh.
Americans oppose the Iran deal, and only a slight majority of Democrats support it.
Chuck Schumer’s office has received more than 10,000 phone calls over the past two weeks, all of them from groups and individuals opposed to the Iran nuclear deal.
Its so hot, the Arab threat to drive us into the sea don’t sound half bad…
No one was injured from the mortar fire that apparently strayed during clashes.
The gang attacked a Haredi man and then a religious couple with brass knuckles and a knife. The woman recited the Shema prayer.
The Muslims preacher is a permanent fixture on the Temple Mount to incite Muslims but finally has been arrested.
The “friendly” game was cancelled after the fans took over the soccer field.
Late PM Yitzhak Rabin’s granddaughter has announced her launch into politics.
Israeli soldiers deployed at the Gaza security fence shot over the heads of Arabs who had approached the no-go zone Monday, Palestinian Authority media reported. No one was injured. Arabs frequently approached the security fence, usually with intentions to infiltrate into Israel or to carry out a terrorist attack on the spot. Palestinian Authority media […]
Iranian double talk is clear when a top official praises the nuclear deal but warns of no IAEA inspector access to military sites.
President Rouhani tells Iranians his nation has the right to enrich uranium under the new nuclear deal.
Egypt’s Pres. El-Sisi signs law that paves the way to new parliamentary elections.
Israel’s Security Cabinet classifies Duma arson as “terror attack,” creates ministerial counter terror committee.
“You want to know what this wine looked like, which wine King David drank, white or red…. We can see if it’s red or white, strong or weak.”
Shlomy Zachary, an Israeli human rights lawyer, noted that Israeli cooperation with previous UN investigations has helped mitigate criticism of Israel – for example, in a 2010 UN investigation of the so-called flotilla incident.
Smart bombs: Israeli war technology isn’t limited to the home front.
“The values I learned from my parents are probably the same values I hope Christians and Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists teach to their people.”
On Monday, Lapid told JTA that he would sooner agree to freeze settlement growth than free Palestinian prisoners, as Netanyahu has done previously in an effort to advance the process.
“He was like everyone else,” she said. “He was serious. He wouldn’t mess around. He would do what I said. He was quiet a lot and thought a lot. He did everything well.”
More than having a hand on the wheel, the year since the formation of the new government has seen Jewish Home and the coalition’s other smaller parties driving much of the government’s agenda. Netanyahu’s Likud party has taken a back seat on everything besides security affairs.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/in-israels-haredi-community-breaking-a-culture-of-secrecy-on-domestic-abuse/2013/10/16/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: