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Family Violence? Not in My Community!

Miklat, the only battered women’s shelter in Israel specifically for Orthodox and Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish women and children, has announced plans to open a second shelter, somewhere in the center of the country. Experts say that the country’s current crisis mode has increased violence against women. Miklat founder and president Estanne Fawer told LILITH that in the last year and a half, the shelter has had to turn away 70 women and their children because of lack of space. Fawer created Miklat m 1996.

In fact, religious women are less likely to use secular services, so it becomes imperative to give them shelter where they will feel comfortable and welcome.

Breaking the silence on abuse in the Orthodox world, both in North America and in Israel, apparently upsets Agudah Israel, an organization representing the ultra-right wing of Orthodoxy. In January, Agudah spokesman Rabbi Avi Shafran sent LILITH a press release complaining that the attention now being focused on spousal abuse among Jews is tantamount to Orthodox-bashing.

“All the Orthodox rabbis I am privileged to know are exquisitely sensitive toward women, as they are towards men,” he writes. Those who take seriously those rabbis’ advice. Rabbi Shafran says, “would be rendered virtually incapable of abusing his or her spouse.”

Tell this to the women in the Miklat shelters.