Women’s Health Information Center Bne Brak
בקור אשת השגריר הבריטי גב' סליה גולד בבני ברק, בתאריך 10 לינואר 2013-והצגת פעילות מרכז מידע לבריאות האישה.
Ethical Communication Issues in Health Promotion Activities amongst Ultra-Orthodox [Haredi] Jews in Israel, by Nurit Guttman and David A. Rier
Chapter to appear in in Rubin, D.L., & Miller, A.N. (Eds.),
Health Communication and Faith-Based Communities.
Prof. Norit Guttman in the head of departmant of communication at Tel-Aviv university.
Ethical Communication Issues in Health Promotion Activities amongst Ultra-Orthodox [Haredi] Jews in Israel
David A. Rier
Chapter to appear in in Rubin, D.L., & Miller, A.N. (Eds.),
Health Communication and Faith-Based Communities.
Heartfelt thanks on behalf of the recipients of the 2007 Speaker of the Knesset Award for Quality of Life: . Shoshanna Goldfinger, The Women's Health Information Center, Bnei Brak, Israel
Address by Shoshanna Goldfinger on receiving the Speaker of the Knesset, Award for the Women’s Health Information Center:
Honorable Speaker of the Knesset MK Dalia Itzik, distinguished guests:
We are gathered here, every man and woman whose heart made them willing.
Rabbi Chaim Ben Atar, one of the greatest Torah Sages and Kabbalists of Morocco in the 18th century, comments – “every man and woman whose heart made them willing”: “He whose heart is generous will contribute more than is possible… and will rejoice in giving”.
The Board of Trustees of the Speaker of the Knesset Award for Quality of Life placed the emphasis on bridging the gaps in Israeli society. It focused on issues that, although they relate specifically to women, are not their concern alone, representing as they do the foundations of the personal quality of life of each of us: Equality before the law without any discrimination, the right to personal security, and the right to just and favorable work of conditions. The Board of Trustees chose areas of activity worthy of the Award, in acknowledgment of the existence of discrimination against women and children, and of the need to relate to the special needs of the various sectors.
The late Mr. Emanuel Racine, who founded the Award Fund, and the donors – the Markowitz-Schreiber Foundation and Mrs. Eugenie Schreiber, as well as the Board of Trustees headed by Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik – have always encouraged activity promoting the quality of life in Israel. Because although we all want to give, only few know how. (Israeli poet Nathan Zach)
Giving is second nature for the recipients of this Award:
First among them is Mrs. Ruth Reznik, who is a trailblazer for all of us. We are all the disciples of Ruth Reznik, a well spring that feeds all initiatives for empowering the women of Israel.
Arfad is an organization that operates in the Arab sector. The scope of its activity is very impressive: A rehabilitation boarding school for children suffering from violence, a shelter for battered women, and a hostel for girls. That is true giving: There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward. (Khalil Gibran)
Isha L’Isha (Woman to Woman) initiated the first time ever half-way housing project for battered women, where they stay before going out into the world. As it is said: A new heart also will I give you.And we, together with the Award Committee, hope further shelters will adopt this innovative model, too.
TSACH (Students for Social Justice) advocates the cause of low-paid female maintenance workers at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, who suffered from prolonged abuse of their legal rights. When the students became aware of the women’s plight, they lobbied to right the wrongs that were conveniently ignored by university management.
The Economic Empowerment for Women(EEW) organization gives non-working women a “hand up”:It provides them with the tools that enable them to provide for themselves. Women in low-income neighborhoods in Bnei Brak have benefited from their seminars.We wish them continued success.
Out of deep social concern and personal identification, Mrs. Yael Tzafrir-Reich founded the Slicha organization, which helps women suffering from cancer who are single parents. Her dedication serves as a model and source of inspiration for all of us.
Yasmin AlNagab, an organization for women’s health, runs workshops that are adapted to the needs of Arab women in the Negev, in order to enhance their awareness of health issues.At its initiative, too, these women have started studying nursing, so they can return and help their community.
The Women's Health Information Center in Bnei Brak helps thousands of ultra-Orthodox women throughout Israel, each of whom stands at the center of an extended, multi-generational family.The Health Center provides them with a discreet answer to their unique needs, while fully respecting Jewish religious law and the special characteristics of this community.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my friends at our Health Center, whose heart stirred them up in wisdom.These volunteers handled some 2,000 calls, and organized courses for women leaders in the ultra-Orthodox centers in Bnei Brak, Jerusalem, and Modi'in Ilit.I would also like to thank the wise-hearted members of the medical establishment, health funds, and hospitals, and the senior doctors and administrators who have joined in our efforts, contributing time and professional knowledge.They have enabled the Center’s activity to cover a wide area of subjects and reach more people.A thank-you bouquet, too, to the heads of the Bnei Brak Municipality, who contributed the hangings of the court, the pillars thereof, and oil for illumination.
On behalf of the Award recipients and of all the circles of volunteers, friends, and donors, we bless all those who desire to give so we that we can continue to dream.
By Rachel Lampert
A wellspring of information
"A woman's wisdom builds her house…" (Mishlei 14:1)
We all know that the woman is the essential center of the home, the ikeret habayis, it's mainstay and it's life source, to the point where Rabi Meir didn't call his wife "wife" he called her "home". As it says in Mishelei, she builds her home with wisdom, with all sorts of chachmos, from the sublime to the down to earth.
Further on in Mishele, Shlomo HaMelech tells us, "A wise heart seeks knowledge…" (Mishelei 15:14) Wisdom must be pursued. The verse says, "lev navon…" wisdom in the aspect of bina, the ability to understand, the extrapolate essential knowledge from given information. Bina is the special wisdom of the woman; HaShem gave her bina yisera, extra abilities in this area. Thus, a person with a "bina heart" will know that they must look for information in order to achieve real knowledge.
Women do this all the time. We are constantly talking and inquiring, asking and discussing for our family's sake and as so much of our lives are taken up by practicalities, the search for practical knowledge is part and parcel of our daily lives.
What happens, then, when we cannot access the resources we need? When our search is blocked because we don't have access, or we're plunged into a situation that is beyond the chachmos we have acquired so far?
"It was then that I realized that I had no idea what the doctor was talking about and no way to find out; he wasn't going to give me information that he assumed everyone knew. I walked out of his office with the test results in my hand and my head spinning and I knew I needed help".
When the information highway is a perpetual traffic jam and, particularly in the world of modern medicine, there is new information every day, how are you, the woman of the house, supposed to find information?
"I suppose I could try to look thing up, but how can I find information which is 'kosher v'yashar'? I wish there was someone who could just explain things to me!"
Now there is.
Since April 2005 The Center for Women's Health Information has helped women in the orthodox community find their way though the vast amount of medical information necessary for today's Jewish family.
"First and foremost, a woman is responsible for her own health because without her, there is no home. Early marriage, the childbearing years, post childbearing and aging all have their own profiles and problems," explains Tzipora Black, a center volunteer.
"In addition, she is in charge of her family's health. By the time a woman reaches middle age, she may be responsible for three generations: her children, her husband and herself, and her parents. All in one day, she could have a question about croup, slipped disk and Alzheimer's disease. There was a need for a central resource planned for the Chareidi woman.
Shoshanna Goldfinger, municipal comptroller and advisor to the mayor on the status of women in B'nai Brak, was behind the original initiative for The Center for Women's Health Information.
"We were a group of friends who got together to brainstorm about what we could do for clall Yisroel. Between us, we had many years of work for the clall and we were looking for a way to use our experience to help women in a significant way. We all agreed it would be something to do with health and medicine".
"We saw that in today's medical world the Chareidi woman is at a disadvantage. Once medicine was simpler and there were few choices, doctors had time and expected to explain what they were doing to their less educated patients. Now, often there are several treatments for one condition and the doctors are used to patients who have access to information that was formerly available only in medical texts.
Chareidim stay away from popular media and shun electronic communication, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage as medical consumers".
What would be the most effective way to bring basic information to the most women as quickly and efficiently as possible?
First they created a core course for 25 volunteers. The speakers came from Ma'ayane HaYeshua Hospital and Ezer M'Tziyon and other health related organizations, the staff of Laniado Hospital was particularly helpful. All were volunteers. In addition to common health issues, they lectured on medicine and the Chareidi population and on how to create a referral network.
Once there was a coherent framework in place, they presented the organization for rabbinical approval. They soon received the enthusiastic endorsement from both Chasidish and Litvish leaders who continue to be intimately involved with the organization. Everything they do is done with daas Torah.
The next step was the call center. Here would be an easily accessed medical resource center. Any time of the day or night, all the caller would have to do is leave their number and their question if they wished, after the introductory recording, and the call would be returned within 24 hours. Every call would be anonymous, providing the caller the security to discuss their problem without fear.
The group presented their idea to the B'nei Brak municipality. Very excited, they provided a room and, most important, a phone line. The call center was in business.
"Our staff of volunteers are divided into three sections. One section actually has very little to do with the call center. They concentrate, rather, on our courses, lectures and seminars, from finding the speakers and the venue, the advertising and the logistics.
"The second section is in charge of coordination and administration, which includes finances, liaison and networking.
"The third section works the hot line.
On any given day, the call center receives calls on a wide range of issues. Some are straightforward such as the care of a cuts and scrapes and others are critical, such as chemotherapy or cardiac arrest. Over time, as they collected statistics, they realized that there were many issues that came up time and time again. On these issues they created information packets that are sent to anyone wants written information about their query. They have files on many more medical issues that can be collated and dispatched. An eminent cardiologist has donated many copies of his book on heart disease, and it is available free on request.
The volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds but they all have in common some connection with medicine or community. One worked for years in hospital administration, another is a former biologist who checks all written materiel for accuracy. Yet another is a former high school principal. The more sensitive questions are handled by a volunteer with a degree in counseling, to make sure that the callers are understood and get the help they need. A halachic authority has checked all of their materials and everything is done according to das Torah.
"That is what is so unique about this project", says Tzipora. "The accuracy of our information goes hand in hand with das Torah, without compromise".
After contacting several high-level medical professionals, then the group created a course to introduce influential women to common health issues. The lectures targeted community leaders and the attendees were rebbetzins, school principals, heads of organizations and community centers, all experienced women who already had a voice in their communities. Each course was attended by 70 to 80 women.
"Our core curriculum was built with Esther Straus, who is the head of Laniado Hospital nursing. Our professional volunteer advisors and lecturers include lawyers who are experts on patient's rights, the Health Ministry Ombudsman, and doctors and administrators from Maayane Yehoshua Hospital, Bikur Cholim Hospital, Hadassah Ein Kerem, and the major health funds such as Klallit and Maccabi. All of our contacts and advisors are not only high-level professionals, but also leaders in their fields".
While The Center for Women's Health Information initially concentrated on community leaders, they are determined to reach all of the community, even the socially deprived.
"We recently worked with Social Services Department in Bnei Brak and created and gave a course on healthy life style to women under their care", says Mrs.Goldfinger.
"It is part of our goal to work with other organizations. We've worked extensively with Neshei Agudas Yisroel, with the Kiryat Sefer municipality, with the B'nai Brak municipality, with the Neve Chemed community center in the Ezras Torah neighborhood, and others".
What was the next step?
"After the call center was up and running for while, we brainstormed again and, based on our statistics, created lecture about the most common issues. We also had three very successful two day conference at the Nir Etziyon Hotel which was attended each by more than 250 women".
And the future?
"We want to reach more frum communities. While we have had many events in B'nei Brak and Yerushalyim, and are in the middle of a series in Kiryat Sefer, there still remain many communities on the periphery that we have yet to contact, communities such as Ashdod, Elad and Haifa. We are looking for funding to finance projects in these outlying areas.
"We would also like to reach out to teachers, especially in the sciences, and work out a curriculum that would include basic health information in the science syllabus, therefore jumpstarting young womens' careers as the prime caretakers for their bayis n'eeman."
"All of this without ever losing sight of our original goal which is to educate in order to promote health, prevent disease, and legitimize women's right to quality health care within the ultra-orthodox communities."
The Center for Women's Health Information is located at Rechov Ezra 18 Benai Berak
The call center number is 03-6787377.