Meet Bat El Trabelsi, Mechina Coordinator
We met with Bat El Trabelsi, who has been working at the Hannaton Mechina for the last three years. She shared her thoughts about religion and women’s issues in Israel.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Hadera, grew up in Petach Tikva, Kfar Saba, Einav, and primarily, Tzfat. I graduated from the Amit girls’ Ulpana in Tzfat. I come from a national religious family and I was active in the Bnei Akiva youth movement. I was in the army and there I served as a lookout, protecting the borders of Israel. And I was also a commander, finishing my service as a sergeant.
What did you do before you came to Hannaton?
After I finished the army, I worked in “preferential” work, where additional workers are needed. I worked in tourism, at a hotel in Herzliya. After, I worked at the Jewish Agency, one of the organizations that changed my life and my Jewish and social worldview. I worked there for five years in Par
tnership2gether between Palm Beach and Tzahar (the communities of Tzfat, Rosh Pina and Hatzor Haglilit (as the Relationship Coordinator). At the same time, I was studying for my B.A. in Psychology and Human Services. After I finished my degree, I moved to Tel Aviv for two years (because that’s the best time in life to be there!) and from there, to Hannaton!
How did you end up at Hannaton?
Facebook! My sister and Itai Capsouto, the head of the Mechina, met through Taglit-Birthright, when Itai was a counselor and my sister joined as a student. She shared Itai’s post that he was looking for a counselor for the third class of the Mechina (that graduated in 2015) and the rest is history.
How do you define yourself religiously, if at all?
Religiously, I would define myself as Secular-Conservative (with a touch of “formerly religious” once in a while).
Tell us a bit about your role in the mechina.
For the first two years here, I was a counselor and this year I became the Coordinator. My role, primarily, is working with the counselors (there are three) and “behind the scenes”. I also teach a class on group processes and dynamics to the mechina students themselves. I also have another job here at Hannaton, on the kibbutz, as the Coordinator for the NOAM (Masorti youth) group. There I work as a teacher for the counselors, who are still in high school, and I’m responsible for the weekly and ongoing activities of the program.
How does being a woman play a role in your job or jobs here at Hannaton?
As a woman? Good question. I’m not conscience of it in my everyday work, but it certainly guides me in more than one way. One of the most meaningful things for me – and for which I am very proud – is a course that I brought to the Mechina and have been teaching for the last three years: studying the law on preventing sexual harassment. We also have a person, a young woman, who is responsible for ensuring that sexual harassment does not happen at the Mechina. We brought this class to other mechinot in Israel through a national training day in Jerusalem.
What would you change here in Israel regarding gender inequality? What would you keep the same?
I think that one of the legal institutions that most discriminates on the basis of gender is the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. I would be very glad to see this institution lose its political power and its legal grip on Israeli citizens. I would also like to see fair representation of women in the Knesset and in the government. Right now women are half of the population but make up only 25% of the Knesset. I know that legislatively and in terms of legal precedents, Israel is advanced, and I am grateful for that. It still remains for much of the law to be actually implemented, and in this regard, we still have a long way to go. I wish us success.