Israel – Government Trains Mikvah Ladies To Spot Domestic Abuse

Mikveh attendants throughout Israel are being trained to spot and help battered women from the ultra-Orthodox, or haredi, community. The training is being run through the City Without Violence program in the Public Security Ministry.

The attendants who chose to join the program have been trained to report cases of women who are subject to domestic violence and are now in contact with municipal welfare, law enforcement, and educational authorities, who can provide the women with assistance.

The haredi community is a closed one and issues such as domestic violence and child abuse are routinely hushed up. When such issues are reported to the police, members of the community are loath to cooperate with the authorities, and so the problems persist.

Moran Yitzhak, director of the City Without Violence program in Beit Shemesh, said, “As soon as the project began, some mikveh attendants told us that in many cases women were embarrassed to enter the mikveh because of the bruises on their bodies.”

S., who has worked as a mikveh attendant for over 30 years, said that before she had completed the training, “even if you suspected that something was wrong or saw marks on the woman, you didn’t know where to turn.”

“The training taught us what to do when we encounter cases like these,” S. said.

1 reply
  1. Diane Polonsky
    Diane Polonsky says:

    Israel’s government training mikvah ladies to spot domestic abuse is a great idea. I remember when the Los Angeles mikvah in California had special pamphlets with a description of what domestic violence looked like, they also had 1-800 for woman to call. Having been a victim of domestic violence myself, I know how much I appreciated seeing it. However, when I became a victim of domestic violence the 800 number was no longer active (probably due to funding).

    When I went to my husbands Los Angeles orthodox Aish rabbi and asked for assistance, his counseling to me/us, was to return to my husband and be a better wife.

    Seeing that Israel thinks it’s important to train mikvah woman to recognize and learn how to deal with domestic violence woman, it would more then behoove all the Jewish communities to ALSO have Rabbaniem to counsel woman correctly! Instead of me trying via the Rabbi getting protection and help (from my drug addicted abusive husband), my orthodox rabbi sent me back into the lions cave! It nearly cost me my life (my children would have become orphans). Eventually being refused to leave my husband from our rabbi after 5 or 6 meetings, and after more abuse, I had to go by myself to the courts and get a protection order.

    The outcome did prove successful, but at such great loss. I took an amazing amount of abuse both from my husband and from my own community. When the orthodox Los Angeles rabbi refused me to leave my husband and by the rabbi’s own hand, not only did he put the onus of blame on me for not “fixing it”, but for also being a bad wife and a bad community member, not following the ways of G-d. In turn, he ousted me by his hand, from himself and from our beloved own community (unto which I had served over 15 years of community service, gave tzedakah, and assisted with chessed meals).

    Turning to mikvah ladies is a nice idea, but without the rabbi’s support and direction, to whom refer to themselves as “counselors”, being themselves not educated in these matters, the matters of recognizing and assisting domestic violence victims properly can be of even greater damage; and without a proper advocate to stand behind the mikvah ladies, what good can really take place?

    Going to the mikvah ladies is a good start, but the rabbi’s also need to be trained and educations, as does the Bais Din and our local Rabbinical Council (of California RCC). – Diane Newman Polonsky

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