Why I write about Ultra-Orthodox Women’s Health

About three years (and 5 knessets?) ago I found myself at a roundtable discussion with a KM and 60 men and women, discussing the status of Haredi women’s health in Israel. 

The final verdict? 

More research and information were needed to make an accurate assessment of Haredi women’s health status. 

So I used that discussion as a springboard to bring a group of women together, which, after three years, countless meetings, rewrites, and reconfigurations, yielded a comprehensive review of Haredi women’s health in Israel, soon to be published in the Journal of Religion and Health!

 The take home message after hours of research and review?  We need more large scale studies, and, to quote myself,

“More importantly, when researchers plan a study on health behavior or access to care that will include a cross-section of the Israeli population, they should consider methodological issues to ensure that the data on Haredi women can be included in the final analyses. In this way, we can better identify possible confounding sociodemographic and cultural variables and determine whether ‘women identifying as Haredi’ is indeed an independent risk factor for increased morbidity and mortality in Israel.”

In simple speech, this means that when a researcher, or a government official, or a kupah manager is planning a program, evaluation, intervention, they need to think, “How could I include Haredi women in my program?” 

You certainly don’t have to be of the culture of the clients that you are providing for, but you do need to make an effort to understand the culture of the clients you are serving.  Part of that is making sure that the data you gather reflects their real experience in society and not just your perception of their experience.

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