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The elder abuse and neglect phenomenon in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish society: social workers’ perspectives

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 February 2018

Tova Band-Winterstein*
Department of Gerontology, University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
Correspondence should be addressed to: Tova Band-Winterstein, PhD, Department of Gerontology, University of Haifa, Mt. Carmel, Haifa 3498838, Israel. Phone: 972-4-8288470. Email:



In the last 30 years, elder abuse and neglect has been recognized as a social and health-related problem. The aim of this paper is to describe the phenomenon of elder abuse and neglect in a separatist faith-based society (ultra-Orthodox Jewish society—UOJS).


A qualitative-phenomenological study with 28 social workers who underwent in-depth semi-structured interviews based on an interview guide consisting of the following items: visibility of the elder abuse and neglect phenomenon in the ultra-Orthodox society, and dilemmas and sensitive issues that arise when working with this population.


Three main themes emerged: (1) Between the commandment to honor one's parents and concealment patterns: Cultural barriers to exposing the abuse and neglect phenomenon; (2) “Life is demanding:” The unique expression of abusive and neglectful behavior in the UOJS; (3) Culturally related dilemmas when intervening with cases of elder abuse and neglect.


Ultra-Orthodox Jewish cultural belief is a differentiating component in the context of elder abuse and neglect. Social workers need to develop a deep understanding of the unique characteristics of the phenomenon and cultural sensitivity to cope with it to address the well-being of older ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Original Research Article
Copyright © International Psychogeriatric Association 2018 

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