Opening Doors for Talented Orthodox Women
“WIHL has given me opportunities I never could have imagined.”
Rabbanit Shira Marili-Mirvis is a fifth-year student, and the Yael Penkower Fellow at the Susi Bradfield Women’s Institute of Halakhic Leadership (WIHL). In addition to giving her access to the highest level of Torah learning, WIHL has provided her with training, opportunities to serve in a range of community leadership roles and access to programs enabling her to develop and enhance her skills.
Turning Illness into an Opportunity to Help Others
Rabbanit Marili-Mirvis was ill with COVID-19 last spring, right at the beginning of the pandemic in Israel. Soon after, two things happened simultaneously: She saw an ad that Ezer Mizion was seeking volunteers to work in hospital COVID wards throughout Israel; and a continuing education class on pastoral counseling was being offered to rabbis. Rabbanit Marili-Mirvis relates, “I learned about the class through WIHL and was immediately interested. Based on my experience and knowledge, I was accepted. It was a fantastic learning experience, one that really prepared me to volunteer as a pastoral counselor.”
Giving Hope to COVID Patients at Shaare Zedek Medical Center
After completing an antibodies test, Rabbanit Marili-Mirvis was offered a volunteer position at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem. She goes to the hospital every Sunday, meeting first with the social worker in the COVID ward, and then drawing on her own experience with COVID and her training through WIHL and the pastoral counseling program, as she walks through the ward to speak with patients and families and give them strength.
“The COVID ward is a very difficult place to be. Patients don’t have their own rooms and many are in extremely difficult situations. I try to speak to as many people as possible, to remind them that they aren’t just sick people, but professionals, parents, grandparents. Essentially, I try to help them think positively and focus on life. “Sometimes, unfortunately, focusing on life simply becomes unrealistic. “There are phones throughout the ward and I am often asked to call a patient’s family and give them the opportunity to say goodbye to their loved one.”
There are also beautiful, life-affirming moments.
Recently, there was a group of COVID patients who had just given birth and we reseparated from their newborns, who had contracted COVID and were in a separate neonatal room of their own. After spending time with the mothers, I went to visit their babies. Holding each baby, I called the mothers and showed them their children on video. We were all crying.”
“Because of WIHL, I had the opportunity to get incredible training that really prepared me for the role I’m playing at Shaare Zedek. I’m so grateful for all of the knowledge, tools, training and opportunities I’ve had thanks to WIHL. It has had a huge impact on me, and I hope, in turn that I am able to make a positive difference in the lives of others.”