In these days of self-examination and stock-taking, we are told that three things reverse any bad judgment due us for our sins: true repentance, prayer, and charity.
I would like to bring to your attention a very worthy charity that I have been involved with for years: Bat Melech, the shelter for abused religious women. When rabbis were saying that there was no need for such shelters because religious women were never abused, Rabbi Korman– a wonderful, honest man I have known for years – found such a woman sleeping in a haredi hotel lobby who had no place to go. I have visited the shelters, which house women and their children. Bat Melech saves lives, literally. I have just contributed to this organization, and I thought those of you who are looking for a charity you can believe in and trust, would like to know a little more about it.
Here is the website: http://www.batmelech.org/index-english.html. Below are excerpts from a recent news story (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3952799,00.html):
Religious, hurt and hopeful
Bat Melech provides rare support for abused religious women.
…Oranit, about 20, from the north, experienced coupledom for a relatively short time during which she was degraded and beaten by her husband. She decided to escape to the shelter after he kicked her pregnant belly, nearly causing a miscarriage.
“It takes time to understand that your husband is an abusive husband,” she said…“But when he beat my stomach and hurt the baby, I understood that he is the warped one here. Tell me, what can you possibly blame a baby of?”
Today, she is fighting him on two legal fronts with the help of Bat Melech’s lawyers.
Tamar took a bit more time to decide to pick up and leave – nearly 10 years in which she gave birth to four children, who are currently divided between her and her ex.
“Can you imagine 10 years of constant physical, mental, and verbal abuse? To go to sleep every night next to the person who is your biggest nightmare?” she said. “In our house, we don’t get divorced. You got married? Deal with it.”
…Today, Tamar lives in a half-way house that belongs to Bat Melech and serves as a transition between living in the shelter and being independent.
…Before Bat Melech was founded about 15 years ago, there was no organization in Israel that dealt expressly with religious and haredi women while taking into consideration the complex social implications abuse has in the sector. Therefore, many religious women had no options for breaking the cycle of violence in which they were consumed.
…“A religious woman will not contact a secular organization,” said Rabbi Noach Korman, founder and director of the non-profit organization. “She will be concerned about a conflict of interests in revealing the matter to a foreign body from the outside, about a lack of understanding of her needs as a religious woman, or from stigmas that could affect the family. She will prefer to suffer in silence…There isn’t always real awareness about the severity of the situation. The natural inclination is towards peaceful channels and compromise. Sometimes it’s possible, but in many cases, the woman is in a sick relationship, or even life-threatening situations.”
…Bat Melech, which was founded with rabbinical support, currently operates a shelter made up of two large houses that can shelter up to nine women and their children, a half-way house, an apartment for at-risk adolescents, and an office that provides legal assistance and employs family lawyers to represent the women, as well as psychologists and social workers to accompany the women through the rehabilitation process.
…A few lone pomegranates and a jar of honey rest on the shelter’s kitchen counter, a reminder of the holiday they just spent together. After years of madness, pain, fear, and anxiety, the women in the shelter celebrated their first New Year without their husbands.
This year, they hope, will be a bit better for them, a year with a new beginning.