Jerusalem shelter for religious battered women to double its capacity

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — An organization that runs two shelters for religious battered women will double its capacity and wipe out its current waiting list.

Bat Melech currently serves over 1,000 women and children each year who require a kosher and Shabbat-observant atmosphere.

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With the acquisition of a building next to its existing Jerusalem shelter, a $1.9 million project, Bat Melech will double the number of victims of domestic violence that it can help, the organization announced Wednesday. It also runs a shelter in Beit Shemsh.

There are only fourteen shelters for victims of domestic violence in all of Israel – two for Arab women with Arabic-language services, ten for secular women that cater to a general audience, and the two Bat Melech shelters for Jewish religious women.

Bat Melech, which was founded in 1995, currently has the capacity to house eighteen families at a time. Unlike secular shelters which house on average 1.2 children per woman, Bat Melech shelters 3 to 8 children per woman.

“Many of Bat Melech’s residents are English-speakers from the United States, Canada, England and South Africa, so I see ourselves as the ‘international Jewish women’s shelter’ as we provide service to everyone, “ said Bat Melech’s overseas director Amy Oppenheimer.