It is a rare day when all the stars and the heavens come together; one recent Tuesday was such a day. Thirteen haredi women, each from a different stream of the religious mosaic, graduated from a new program that provides them with opportunities to work in Israel. The project, which trains such women to work in their communities as early childhood counselors, originated at the National Council of Jewish Women’s Research Institute for Innovation in Education at Hebrew University and is supported by the Hadassah Foundation.
Like all mothers, the women wanted to give their children a good beginning. Moreover, they came with a plan to enter the workforce through a profession that is dear and familiar to them: parenthood. As they studied early childhood education at Hebrew University over the past several months and acquired the appropriate professional and paraprofessional early childhood education tools, they learned that parenthood and early childhood education are universal values and that the university setting can be welcoming and nurturing — even for women of their background. And they learned that a university environment is one in which your own values and customs can and should be respected and that there is something to learn from the other.
Collaboration between two major American Jewish women’s organizations to advance women in Israel is a good model for future philanthropic work. Today’s philanthropy is more and more about partnerships, measurable outcomes and the distribution of resources.
Shari Eshet is director of NCJW’s Israel Office, based in Jerusalem. She oversees NCJW’s funding and advocacy efforts in Israel. See more at ejewishphilanthropy.com/a-good-beginning/.