Research Passions: crime in insular communities, gender-based violence and victimization, silence and stigma, survivor advocacy and activism, community accountability processes, qualitative research methods, feminist standpoint theory
Dr. Guila Benchimol is a principal researcher at the Center for Communal Research. She uses qualitative research methods to listen deeply and respond empathically to the needs of Jewish organizations, professionals, lay leaders, and victim-survivors.
Guila believes that it is crucial to ask difficult questions and have challenging conversations about social problems in the Jewish community. She encourages and facilitates these conversations, centering those most impacted by the issues at hand, because she knows that doing so is the first step in addressing problems.
As a researcher and public educator on sexual violence, Guila has crafted standards and policies for Jewish spaces and has been invited to address Jewish professionals, lay leaders, and clergy across Canada and the US, as well as other faith communities. In early 2018, Guila was one of the key advisors who guided the launch of the SRE Network, a network of over 150 organizations committed to creating safe, respectful, and equitable Jewish workplaces and communal spaces in North America. She continues to consult for them in her role as Senior Advisor on Research and Learning. Guila also sits on the board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and is a Research Associate at the Centre for the Study of Social and Legal Responses to Violence, where she has worked on projects related to homicide and domestic violence deaths.
Guila’s first career as a Jewish educator informed her understanding of the need to address victimization of all kinds in Jewish communities. Before studying criminology, she was the Director of Judaic Studies at Tiferes Bais Yaakov where she also taught Tanach to grades 9 through 12. She was also the Managing Director for NCSY Canada, where she founded and directed an international overnight camp for high school girls.
Guila holds a BASc in Justice Studies and a diploma in Law and Security Administration from the University of Guelph-Humber, an MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy and a PhD in Sociological Criminology from the University of Guelph. She is trained in restorative and transformative justice processes and facilitation.
Guila lives in Toronto, Ontario and grew up in the Spanish Moroccan Jewish community there which was built by the families who fled Tangier.