Friday, 7 May 2010

Purity with Dignity - Helping Jewish Women Fulfill the Mitzvah

I recently had occasion to speak to a certain Jewish Woman here in Eretz Yisrael. I was describing to her about our Mikvah Project - Purity with Dignity. I did not expect what proceeded from there. I was used to hearing of Jewish women who could not afford the Mikvah expenses due to having been ill, being re-trenched, a reduction in clients. However, this story was disturbing.

This woman is a qualified nurse, she works in a few facilities, one of them being Kupat Cholim (National Health). She interviewed to work in this facility, agreed upon the hours of work, salary and began working. The end of the month came and no sign of any salary. When she made enquiries she was told that there was a procedure to follow and until it was complete she had to wait for her salary.

What was she to do to pay her bills? The Kupat Cholim had no answer neither was it perturbed. She was told to wait and assured she would be paid the full months once the process was complete. She asked for an advance on her salary and after more time elapsed was granted NIS 1000. By this time 6 weeks of working had passed and NIS 1000 was not enough to pay  all their bills.

She and her husband struggled, but thought at the end of the next month, the 2 months salary would come and they would be OK. That month ended, still no salary. When 3 months had passed, she had to turn to a neighbour for help. They had run out of basic food. She was working but not getting paid.

How did this affect her going to the Mikvah? Since finance was low and they did not have all the toiletries she needed, she had to use toiletries from the Mikvah. The Mikvah ladies were very kind in supplying what she needed and the time to herself to relax in a bath and prepare for her Mikvah was rather therapeutic. But the Mikvah had to cover its costs. The supplies provided had to be paid for and the water used etc had to be paid for. Her fees were written in a book, for when her salary would arrive. So 3 months and more added up.

When her salary did come, with utter amazement our nurse discovered that her bills exceeded the salary. She had not budgeted for the amounts coming off her salary. How is an Olah Chadashah to know how much goes to taxes, how much to Bituach Leumi etc, we just know what amount per hour is promised to us.

So time elapsed and the bill to the Mikvah increased. Now we are appealing to you, the caring Jewish community to assist in paying this (and other bills like it) that have amounted.

The fact that this Jewish professional woman had to wait months to receive her salary is alarming. This issue we will try to address in another blog post. We can not change the whole system, at least not overnight. (if you can think of how to improve it, please do let us know) But we can help to ease the burden and embarrassment for a Jewish woman and help her to fulfil her mitzvah of Family Purity with Dignity

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