Goodbye Bet Shemesh

Goodbye, Bet Shemesh. This post is for my friends who have been there for me from before the events which took place in Bet Shemesh over the past two years, and then remained at my side throughout.

My story started while doing everything I can to protect my daughter and her friends from extremists who terrified little boys, girls, and their parents on a daily basis for months.

bet shemesh hadassa margolese הדסה מרגוליס
Ultra orthodox jewish men clash with Israeli police in the city of Beit Shemesh, Dec 26, 2011.Photo by Kobi Gideon / Flash90.

When the municipality, government, and police force failed to do their job in protecting our children while walking home from school, I joined together with others in an attempt to take things to the next level. We went ahead with the determination to do anything and everything in our power to stop the extremists from their acts of violence against our children. I gave up being the very private person that I was, for the sake of our children feeling safe, and secure. I would do it again in a heartbeat. My one and only agenda was keeping my daughter happy and safe.

Hadassa Margolese, fighter for religious tolerance, quits Beit Shemesh

I have always been a feminist. I have always had strong opinions about what I thought was right and wrong. Just that now, my opinions became public. I realized that I can help make a change. I have had friends who agree with what I believe in, and friends who do not agree with what I believe in. That’s fine, that’s normal. I have had respectful debates, respectful disagreements.

What pushed me over the edge and caused me to feel that Bet Shemesh is not a place where I feel comfortable living in anymore, was the reaction to my most recent article which spoke about the current situation at the woman’s mikva I wrote about a very personal experience I had gone through, not mentioning in the article which mikva it took place in.

For a very long time, actually, almost 11 years to be exact, I have had issues from time to time in different mikvaot worldwide. I felt that some kind of change must take place in order for all women to feel safe and secure when going to fulfill this  mitzva. This seems to be an issue throughout Israel, as seen in the ITIM petition.

I wrote the article hoping that some kind of change would be made. I am grateful that more and more women are feeling that they can speak out now, because that will only help create the change for us women who so desperately want that change. I am saddened that there are so many stories of women who feel humiliated, and feel that they have no control over their bodies at the mikva.

The reactions I received from people who were my friends, was shocking. I didn’t see that coming. I was accused of all sorts of things. The humiliation I felt from these individuals, was worse than all of my negative mikva experiences all put together. I knew about the gossip going on around me. I cried for days. I couldn’t breathe. I stopped leaving my house other than to go to work. I decided that it is time to move It is what I call our “emergency exit”.

The negative only came from about two handfuls of people, the support I received was by far more than the negative. People told me to continue writing, continue speaking out about the mikva situation, which I do. However, I cannot get past the humiliation and the shock I was in by the way people behaved, spoke, made fun of, and wrote about me. I have not had people behave towards me in such a disgraceful, hateful, way since I was bullied as a child. Would these people have had the guts to speak to me in such a way to my face? Or is it easier to hide behind a computer?

I have disagreed with people many times. Never, ever to my recollection, have I ever humiliated someone, made them feel so embarrassed to their face, or through social media. And I have learned a lesson- I will never treat someone who I so strongly disagree with, the way I was treated.

הדסה מרגוליס בית שמש
Photo: Haaretz

I am leaving and saying goodbye, Bet Shemesh completely heartbroken. I am leaving amazing friends who I have met through our common goal of making this city a better place for us all to live in. I wish my friends nothing but the best, and may you continue having the strength to fight for what is just and right. Bet Shemesh is, and always will be a part of who I am.

I am speaking for myself, as I always have, and not on behalf of anyone else.

Facebook Comments

Post Author: Hadassa Margolese

9 thoughts on “Goodbye Bet Shemesh

    aliyah06

    (July 30, 2013 - 1:28 pm)

    Hadassah, you have no idea who I am. I live in Jerusalem, but followed your brave stand against bullying in Bet Shemesh from afar. We would not necessarily agree on some things, but we are both feminists and mothers. I admire your stand, and unbeknownst to you, you have many friends on many forums, blogs, talk-backs who have fiercely defended you. I know because I'm one of them. Please don't feel like the internet bullies and cyber-road-ragers speak for a majority of people. It always hurts to be bullied and humiliated, but please hold your head high and ignore them. BTW, "The reactions I received from people who were my friends were shocking" — those are not friends. If nothing else, this experience has been a true litmus test for who is your friend, and what friendship really means. You've made more fans and friends than you know because of your courage. Please don't feel discouraged–you've done what many people only aspire to do — you've made a difference for the good. Kol haK'vod!

    HaEmmet VeHashalom

    (July 30, 2013 - 7:34 pm)

    Shalom Hadassah,

    I know your husband, Benji, much better than I know you, ever sice we were neighbors on Nachal Timna Street in RBS-Alef; but I respect you both, and I always felt that you performed some tremendous services for the community as a whole, both with regard to Orot Banot, and with regard to the Mikva situation.

    I am truly sorry to hear that you will no longer be living in Bet Shemesh, and I wish you success wherever you go.

    Bivrachah,
    Catriel Lev [050-205-7867]

    Tamar

    (July 30, 2013 - 8:38 pm)

    Dear Hadassah,
    I know you only from Facebook, and of course from your and Na'ama's courageous exposure of the outrageous situation at Orot Banot last year.

    Though I don't know you personally, I am heart-broken that you and your family have chosen to leave us in Beit Shemesh. I never heard (nor do I want to hear) a negative word about you, but apparently a small group of people have terrorized you into wanting to leave. Ironically, just last year a different small group of people were terrorizing you and many others — and your exposure of the situation brought about its resolution.

    I am sorry both that we (the rest of your Beit Shemesh neighbors) did not know about your distress in time to help — if that was possible — and that you're leaving us. Lashon Hara is a terrible thing, as you've shown.

    If you ever choose to return to Beit Shemesh, know that you have many, many people who'd be honored to be your friend.

    Finally, I'd like to sign the Itim petition you linked to — but I see no where to sign. Please post if there's a different link where it can be signed.

    B'hatzlacha,
    Tamar

    Batya

    (July 30, 2013 - 9:06 pm)

    Good luck, wherever you're going.
    Batya from Shiloh

    Gillian

    (July 31, 2013 - 4:49 pm)

    So sad for you. You have acted bravely and in accordance with your beliefs and principles. Hopefully your actions are helping make our world a better place.

    Lesley Silver-Winick

    (August 2, 2013 - 9:43 am)

    As a true friend of yours and who has supported you for all that you have done for Bet Shemesh – with only good intentions. I am so surprised by the actions that "our" friends have acted and commented to you.

    I left Bet Shemesh as well – not for all the same reasons that you did – but for the way I saw the city going in the future. I hope I am wrong and with the steps that you took – and others will take – may turn Bet Shemesh into a City that will be on the "pages" for only good in the future.

    Pam Ehrenkranz

    (August 2, 2013 - 10:55 am)

    Where can I find your article on the mikva? i would love to read it.

    -

    (August 7, 2013 - 10:56 pm)

    Hadassah,

    I admire you for all of your actions. You are a great role model for your daughters. There are many forms of Judaism and it can be difficult to maneuver through some of them as a woman and a feminist. Your efforts will make it easier for the next generation.

    Best of luck in your move.

    Anita Susan Brenner
    California

    Hadassa Margolese

    (January 22, 2014 - 9:11 am)

    Thank you for all of the kind comments. It has been a rough road for me. I appreciate your kind words. Really.

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