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.
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.
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.
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.