Israel Hofsheet (2)The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) has announced a new round of grants to six Israeli organizations whose work is focused on women’s empowerment, gender equality, and religious pluralism. NCJW’s Israel Granting Program supports grassroots projects throughout Israel that work to improve the lives of women, children, and families through women’s empowerment and progressive social change.

NCJW members and supporters across the United States help raise funds for the Israel Granting Program (IGP). More than one-third of NCJW’s 70 community-based sections have made IGP one of their key program initiatives.

The 2016 grantees are:

Isha L’Isha – Haifa Feminist Center: Fighting Against Trafficking in Women and Prostitution project. Isha L’Isha works to end the sexual and physical abuse of women trapped in the sex industry. The project advocates for change on the national level, educating the public about the abuses of the sex industry; providing direct assistance to women who are victims of extreme sexual, physical and emotional abuse; and helping them leave prostitution behind by providing them with the tools they need to reclaim their lives. Their direct service work in 2016 will focus on mail-order brides who are trafficked into the country.

NCJW Research Institute for Innovation in Education at Hebrew University (RIFIE): Training Bedouin Women for the Workforce as Educators in the Pre-School Sector. This unique NCJW RIFIE project empowers Bedouin mothers to work outside the home by training them for paraprofessional work and placement in early childhood education programs in their communities.

Israel Hofsheet: The Center for Training and Initiatives. Israel Hofsheet has emerged as the leader in organizing the public and training social change activists in Israel for freedom of and from religion. In order to integrate more Israeli women activists and leaders on gender issues into the larger movement, the center will seek to involve alumni and faculty from the NCJW Women and Gender Studies Program at Tel Aviv University. The center’s work will fuel a grassroots movement of skilled and organized activists to secure Israel’s democratic principles and finally win full equal rights for men and women in personal status issues and anywhere in the public sphere where they are attacked or undermined by religious extremism.

Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH). NCJW’s grant will support JOH’s work meeting the specific needs of those in the transgender community, who are too often excluded from programs and services available to gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. The grant will provide transgender activists in Jerusalem the security and flexibility to organize independently and unite with a stronger voice, as well as increase the access of transgender individuals in Jerusalem to services currently beyond their reach.

Yerushalmit Movement. Dedicated to building Jerusalem as a vibrant, pluralistic, and inclusive city, the Yerushalmit Movement has helped reduce gender segregation based on religion, including the exclusion of women from public spaces in Jerusalem. NCJW’s grant will fund the creation of women-led forums in neighborhoods across the city to promote equality and improve quality of life. For the first time, Ultra Orthodox Jewish women and Arab women will be engaged in the conversation to encourage civic collaboration among women activists of diverse religious sectors.

Hillel The Right to Choose. For over 20 years, the mission of Hillel – The Right to Choose has been to help those wishing to leave the Haredi ultra-Orthodox community and successfully integrate into Israeli society. The complex challenges faced by those leaving ultra-Orthodox communities are magnified for single mothers, some of whom have suffered abuse, and all of whom face financial distress and struggle to navigate the secular world. The grant provides job training, tuition scholarships for education, and funds for legal fees to win custody over their children over the opposition of their former husbands and families in the religious courts. The program targets 48 single mothers aged 18-30.

The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, NCJW strives to advance social and economic justice for women, children, and families. More information on Facebook and on Twitter at @NCJW.