Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Improving Conditions for Contract Workers

Our grantee, the Haifa-based Isha L'Isha (board members and staff, above), is aiding women who clean buildings in that city's municipal buildings. These workers are employed by a contractor, who underpays them and denies them benefits. They are putting pressure on the city to employ them directly.

Integrating Arab Israeli Teachers into Jewish Schools

We started the day with a visit to Jewish elementary school in Haifa, where our grantee Merchavim has placed several teachers of Arab Israeli background. There is a surplus of Arab Israeli women trained as teachers, and a shortage of English, math, and science teachers in Jewish schools. The teachers we met, above, said they felt welcomed and at home at the Jewish school.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Supporting Female Entrepreneurs in South Tel Aviv

Our final stop of the day was to our grantee Microfy, which is helping female entrepreneurs like    Orly and Keren, pictured above, in South Tel Aviv, a depressed part of the city. Microfy provides training and on-going support to these women via mentoring and a business forum, where they can network and learn from each other.

Strengthening the Environment for Female Entrepreneurs in the Negev

At our visit to the Adva Center, we learned about the role of the Mayor's advisors on women's issues, a position every municipality is required to have--but only a handful fund as a full-time position. Edna Sabag, of the Beersheva Municipality, above right, is one of those rare women. Along with Adva staff, also pictured above, she has created a network for these women. Their new project, which is funded by the Foundation, is to improve the environment in the Negev for Jewish and Bedouin businesswomen. Three businesswomen from each of 20 cities in the region will create locally tailored efforts.

Securing Economic Rights for Israeli Women

Our grantee, Itach-Maaki, fights for the rights of economically insecure women in Israel.  Today, they told us about their efforts to help Bedouin women in polygamous marriages, especially when they have been abused by their husbands, and their work on behalf of the 30,000 (low paid) Israeli women who work as teachers' assistants, and who are ill represented by the main workers' union.

Training Women for Hi-Tech Jobs

We were in Lod to visit our grantee Machshava Tova, which is training women in app development for phones and other mobile devices. We wished a hearty mazal tov to program graduate Tikvah, above right (standing next to Ornit Ben Yashar, the organization's director), who will start a new, better paying job next week!

Finding Work for Arab-Israeli Women

Our grantee, Tishreen, is working with Arab-Israeli women in the lower Triangle region to find work. Their program focuses on job readiness skills, Hebrew instruction, and confidence building. Given the paucity of jobs in the different villages, the women are prepared for positions such as kindergarten assistants and cashiers in Jewish settings.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Catching up with our Tannenbaum Winners

We were fortunate to have dinner with two of our Israeli Bernice S. Tannenbaum Prize winners: 2014 winner Yifat Bitton, founder of Tmura, and Lilach Tzur Ben-Moshe, the 2016 winner, who founded Turning the Tables. Bitton, second from right in the first row, uses the legal system to fight for the rights of women, and Ben-Moshe, pictured to her left, works with women exiting prostitution. The Tannenbaum Prize is awarded annually to an emerging leader in Israel or the US who has advanced the cause of girls and women. The previous night at dinner, we were able to catch up with the inaugural Tannenbaum winner, Vardit Dameiri Madar, a social justice lawyer who recently left her long-time position at Foundation grantee Yedid for a new job heading up the legal clinic at Hebrew University.

Securing Housing for Poor Israeli Women

We visited our grantee Shatil, which is working to ensure that women who live in public housing are able to do so with dignity. They are also working to  increase the supply of public housing, since there is a 30,000+ waiting list. Shatil staff, pictured above, are training female residents--70%+ of public housing residents are single female parents--to know their rights and advocate for themselves. They scored a recent win: 5 percent of all new housing units must be reserved for those eligible for public housing. Shatil and the women are also advocating to liberalize eligibility criteria: as of now, a women must have extremely limited/no income, receive no alimony, have at least 3 children, and cannot have a spouse or significant other at the same residence.

Hadassah Hospital

At our stop at Hadassah Hospital, there were two special treats: a tour of the world-famous Chagall windows, and meeting a truly inspirational woman, Naela Hayek (pictured above.) She is a head nurse in the ICU division, and co-founded Nurses in the Middle East, which seeks common ground among nurses in the region. She recently presented her project at the UN!

Boosting Haredi Female Entrepreneurs

Our first stop of the day was at our grantee PresenTense, which, in cooperation with another nonprofit, Temech, is helping ultra-Orthodox women grow their small businesses. This includes women like Reizy Heller (above left, pictured alongside PresenTense and Temech staff), who markets the work of her husband, a prominent caricature artist in the Haredi community.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Financial Literacy for Russian-Speaking Immigrants

Our new grantee, Project Kesher-Israel, helps Russian-speaking immigrants navigate the Israeli financial system, be more savvy consumers, and save money. PKI staff, pictured above, report that the women they help can now achieve life-long dreams with their savings--such as visiting distant loved ones.

WePower: Promoting Women's Leadership in Israel

WePower, a nonpartisan organization, trains Israeli women to run for political office. We met three outstanding women (above, first row, center three, left to right) who have been impacted by Foundation-supported programs: 1) Lia Shteinberg, a first term City Council member in Lod working to provide support to other first term city councilwomen, so they will run for a second term; 2) Shiran Revah, who hopes to serve as a city manager before running for office; and 3) Rajaa Abu-Hia, who hopes to be the first Druze woman ever elected to an Israeli office!

Improving Prospects for Ethiopian Women

We were pleased to meet with our grantee, the NCJW Research Institute for Innovation in Education at Hebrew University.  For several years, we supported their program to train ulta-Orthodox women for jobs in the early-childhood sector. We now support a similar program targeting Ethiopian immigrant women. Many now work as cleaning women, and a job in the preschool sector would be a significant step up the ladder for them.

Fighting for the Rights of Israeli Women

The first "working" morning of the Foundation Mission focused on the rights of Israeli women. We began the day with a visit to the Israeli Knesset, to visit Knesset Member Zehava Galon. Although she represents the left-of-center Meretz Party, she felt there was definite cross-party support (especially among the Knesset's 33 female members) on such issues as domestic abuse and creating a legal case against "economic violence" (e.g. when a man denies his wife access to her bank account.)  
We then met with Susan Weiss (above, center, in white pants and grey sweater in group photo), director of the Center for Women's Justice. This legal advocacy group takes on precedent-setting cases on behalf of women who want to stem the abuses of the Israeli rabbinic courts in cases of divorce, conversion, and marriage.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Eating our Way Through Jerusalem

Today, Hadassah Foundation Board members had a tasting tour of Machaneh Yehudah, the central market in Jerusalem. Above, we sample foods with Yuval Attias, a chef who led our outting. We then accompanied Yuval to a kitchen, where we prepared our Israeli Arabic lunch.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

And We Begin....

The Hadassah Foundation began its "pre-mission" to Israel this evening with a lovely dinner in Jerusalem.  (Pictured above: Highly-sated Board members!) Over the next few days, we will engage in some touring and a celebration of Shabbat, before begining the heart of our work on Sunday: visiting our grantees.