“Domestic violence is universal — it happens in every part of society. But we have noticed an increase in the number of Haredi women seeking help in recent years,” said Ayala Meir, director of the family services department at the Social Affairs Ministry.
Reut and her children moved to Jerusalem to one of only two shelters in Israel dedicated to Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish women. It accommodates their dietary and religious needs.
The shelter, which is run by the nonprofit organization Bat Melech under the auspices of state welfare authorities, will soon expand from 17 spaces to 24.
There is already a waiting list.
Between 15 and 20 Israeli women are killed each year by their partners, but Meir said religious women have not been included in those statistics until now. …
“The community is difficult to penetrate. It is very insular — they try to solve problems inside the community,” said Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. He said the police can get involved only when someone complains or provides information. Often, people do not complain.
“All abused women worry about leaving their husbands or breaking up the family, but in the Haredi community, it is even harder. The community lacks understanding, and the women can pay a high price,” said Orly Tobolski-Hadad, spokeswoman for Bat Melech.
Often, they have no one to whom they can turn. Discussing marital problems with, say, a girlfriend or mother is viewed as inappropriate. Rabbis and community leaders tend to turn a blind eye to the abuse, fearing that bringing it to light might damage their community’s reputation. In some cases, violent husbands and their abused spouses are counseled to stay together and work out their “differences.”