Recently there was an article in Israel Hayom about the program we run in Beit Shemesh. Here is the response from the facilitator, Gloria Mosenkis, and our director, Naomi Marmon Grument.
As one of the facilitators of the program featured in the article “Mikveh attendants trained to spot battered ultra-Orthodox women” about which Itsik Saban wrote on Sunday, April 26, 2015, I feel obligated to correct some significant errors in the article.
Most importantly, the statement in the article, “The attendants who chose to join the program have been trained to report cases of women who are subject to domestic violence…” is fundamentally wrong. The attendants do not report to the police, rather, they have been trained to identify victims and offer access to valuable resources for those women. Their goal is to maintain the mikveh as a safe and caring space, where abused women need not fear being “reported,” with all of the accompanying possible repercussions in their lives. Nor are we looking to “catch” or “report” abusive men, but rather to help and empower women in an untenable situation. The training gives attendants the skills to reach out to victims in a sensitive and appropriate fashion, which respects their boundaries while providing life-saving information.
Abuse is an issue across all sectors of Israeli society, not just the one sector mentioned in the article. Bet Shemesh mikveh attendants, like attendants throughout the country, encounter women from across Israeli society; and are trained to respond sensitively to needs of each, with an emphasis on good interpersonal communication.
Secondarily, the article credits City Without Violence with this program. Indeed, City Without Violence was a significant partner in the program, including input on the program content and financial support, but the program – which trains mikveh attendants throughout Israel – was conducted by the Eden Center, a non-profit, Jerusalem-based organization dedicated to the enhancement of women’s experiences at the mikveh. Eden’s work thoughtfully and thoroughly trains attendants and premarital counselors (madrichot kallah) to be sensitive to a range of issues affecting the woman’s immersion experience, from being naked in front of another, to post-partum depression and infertility to fear of water, and the varying needs of women from across the religious spectrum. The misplaced focus and inaccurate information represented in the article is offensive to the institution and the profound work being accomplished by the Eden staff throughout the country.
Gloria Mosenkis, MSW, Bet Shemesh
Naomi Marmon Grument, PhD, Director, The Eden Center