Dr. Guila Benchimol is a Principal Researcher for the OU Center for Communal Research. She holds a PhD in Sociological Criminology and an MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice Policy from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Her doctoral dissertation examined how victims of sexual violence become advocates and activists against sexual violence, and explored the processes that survivors experience, including victimization and disclosures, which lead them to advocacy and activism. Her MA thesis examined the 2011 murder of Leiby Kletzky, z”l, in Brooklyn, NY and its impact on the Orthodox Jewish community as they discussed addressing communal concerns that arose from the crime and its aftermath.
As a researcher and public educator on sexual violence, Guila has crafted standards and policies for Jewish workplaces, institutions, and communal 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 her role as the Senior Advisor on Research and Learning, Guila continues to advise the Safety Respect Equity Network (SRE), a Jewish network of over 125 organizations committed to creating safe, respectful, equitable workplaces and communal spaces in North America. Guila also serves as 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 and sits on the board of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Guila’s first career as a Jewish educator informed her understanding of the need to address victimization of all kinds in Jewish communities. Previously, Guila 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 the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) in Canada, where she founded and directed an international camp for high school girls.
Guila lives in Toronto and was raised in the Spanish Moroccan Jewish community there which was built by the families who fled Tangiers.