Yifat Erlich: The Drawers are Continuing to Open
A month and a half ago, this supplement revealed a web of degradation and exploitation that befell several students of Sylvia Dehari, founder of the Megeirot system. Dehari, a widow from Gush Katif, invented a method which, through the help of inspection of drawers and household items, women attained self-empowerment and a renewed understanding of their lives. But according to testimonies that arrived at Makor Rishon, in many cases Dehari succeeded in attaining absolute control of the lives of her students. [MiI: Erlich then reviews the contents of the original article.]
This week women who left “Megeirot” met with a special component of members of the forum “Takanah,” which is discussing Dehari and her methods. The forum, headed by Yehudit Shilat, was formed to handle cases of sexual harassment and abuse by influential people in the national religious community, and members include professionals in the field of law, society, and psychology, along with talmidei chachamim [religious scholars] on the highest level. “In the light of the article we received many inquiries from rabbis and women,” says Shilat. “After internal discussion we decided to look into the interpersonal relationships within the Megeirot hierarchy. We called for a preliminary discussion with the participation of members of the forum’s administration, in order for women who left the group and their husbands to tell their stories. The purpose of the discussion was to choose which combination [of forum members] would be appropriate for clarifying the matter.”
“According to the women quoted in the article, it appears to be sexual exploitation. If a man would have done what was described, we would have labeled it sexual harassment long ago. Because the women did not find a suitable framework for dealing with the issue, with authorities accepted by the public, they decided to turn to us. In the meantime we have only heard the voices of those who have left. It’s important for us to hear the other side in order to hold a fair discussion and come to an investigation of the truth.”
Regular participants in the forum include rabbis such as Eitan Eisman, Elyakim Levanon, Avi Gisser, Yuval Cherlow, Baruch Gigi and Yaakov Ariel. In addition Rav Lior from Kirya Arba informed [Takanah] that after the forum passes on its findings and conclusions, he will also add his ruling.
A few months have passed since my first conversation with B, who was very close to Sylvie and acted as a kind of spokesperson for Megeirot. Then, she chose to speak in general terms, as she was ensconced in her personal story. In light of the publication of the article B. was interviewed on the radio program “Hakol Diburhim,” and today she is ready to discuss what happened to her. “I began to understand that I am not guilty,” she explains. “I understood that mechanisms were operated on us which we could not fight. Megeirot taught us to distance us from ourselves. We were taught that if someone pinches us, it wasn’t right to shout ‘Ayy,’ but that we need to look at it differently, to recognize that the pinching is in order to advance us.”
The article continues, but that is all I have time for now. Shabbat shalom.