We at Celebrations in Israel, highly recommend the Women’s Courtyard (www.hatzer.org.il), as a mitzvah project, especially for girls. The Courtyard is a nonprofit group of neighborhood-based communal centers located in Jaffa, Netanya and Haifa that nurture self-fulfillment for disadvantaged girls and young women. Each year, the Courtyard helps more than 400 at-risk girls and young women, ages 13-30, who come from a variety of cultural backgrounds, ethnicities and religions.
Designed with an in-depth understanding of girls and young woman living in survival mode, the Courtyards are inviting second homes where trust and open communications are built. Each has a living room where young women come to relax and socialize, quiet rooms for school study and privacy, a hair salon where they can feel pampered, and a kitchen and dining area where they have a healthful daily meal. The Courtyard and its offerings are all operated by social workers and other professionals who assist the girls with their individual educational, emotional and material needs.
Just Like You
The girls and young women who visit the Courtyard aspire for a happy family life and fulfilling career just like you. However, their circumstances of poverty, abuse and culture-based limitations on girls, often make the path towards these goals difficult to attain on their own.
Many come from cultures that don’t value education for girls or they must work to financially support their family while struggling to complete high school. The Courtyard social worker is often the only person encouraging these girls to keep studying. Each Courtyard has a learning center and the social workers will bring in specialized tutors, so they can keep up with their studies, complete their high-school matriculation requirements or prepare for standardized college exams.
Holistic Nourishment for Personal Success
Due to extreme poverty, for some girls, the lunch they receive at the Courtyard is the only meal they’ll have that day. The Courtyard fosters their access to social services, legal assistance, therapy, financial advocacy and medical care, as well as enrichment activities and workshops.
Some have been abused and the Courtyard is the only place they can receive professional emotional support for dealing with their trauma. The Courtyard also assists young women to prepare for the army or national service and adult life afterwards. Each location has a full beauty salon services and boutiques with donated new items at drastically cheap prices, so the girls can feel good about their appearances and be able to afford to buy something nice for themselves.
The "My Life as a Superhero" Project
The girls also participate in fun and fulfilling activities through the Courtyard. They have running groups that meet several times a week and participate in organized runs together. The Courtyard’s latest project, “My Life as a Superhero,” is an innovative concept that helps the girls reset their life path for positivity through self-awareness. Working in intimate groups, the project gives them the framework for each girl to present the story of her life using modern mediums such as a TED talk, poetry slam or video. The goal is for each person to find her own voice, discover her own strengths, and reframe her self-perception from victim to hero.
Activity Ideas for Bat Mitzvah Projects
Your support will help the Courtyard support each girl’s personal path to self-fulfillment, despite their socio-economic status, cultural background and gender. The following are ideas for fundraising. Of course, you are welcome to come up with your own ideas in a way that matches your personality and interests.
An Interactive Design Project with the Courtyard Girls
We will match you with a girl or group of girls your age. Together, through messaging and video calls, you can develop an empowering message and design a graphic to put on a t-shirt or another fundraising product to sell (see www.qualitylogoproducts.com for other ideas). You can locally produce and sell the items to raise money at events in your city, school or synagogue. We will provide you with Women’s Courtyard literature to support the fundraising cause. The interaction will benefit both the Mitzvah and Israel girls as they develop a friendship and learn about each other. When you visit Israel, you are invited with your fellow travelers to join your Courtyard friends for lunch and you will receive a special honor there from the girls.
Online Fundraising Campaign
Create an online campaign through platforms such as www.depositagift.com/mitzvah-projects-and-registries or myisraelcharity.org or www.causes.com or www.gofundme.com. Share on social media with friends and family to raise much needed money for the items and activities listed on the following table. You can also hold live fundraising activities such as bake sales, car washes and the t-shirt/product sale. We will provide you with Women’s Courtyard literature to support the fundraising cause. When you visit Israel, you are invited with your fellow travelers to visit the Courtyard for lunch and you will receive a special honor there from the girls.
Run for the Women’s Courtyard
This is a great way to stay fit and support the Women’s Courtyard. Look online for local 5K or 10K races in your area. Sign up and get your friends to join and train with you. Ask people to sponsor you, you can use the online fundraising platforms above to collect money. The Women’s Courtyard will send you their team’s t-shirt graphics to put on your team’s t-shirts, or you can design your own. When you visit Israel, you are invited to run with the girls! This will either be in a practice or an actual race, depending on the date. You will also be invited with your fellow travelers to visit the Courtyard for lunch and you will receive a special honor there from the girls.
A Beautiful Way Toward Self-Fulfillment
Girls are drawn to the Women’s Courtyard through its in-house salon, where they can get their hair styled, colored and cut for free. It makes them feel good about themselves and it’s in this relaxed context where they feel free to talk about their issues and get the help they need. Ask your hair salon if they could participate in helping you raise money. You can go there on a busy day and educate women about the Courtyard, asking for donations while they are waiting for their services. We will provide you with Women’s Courtyard literature to support the fundraising cause. You can give each donor a silicone bracelet or sell our gold bracelets in exchange to raise money. When you visit Israel, you are invited for a blow dry (or more) at the Courtyard. You will also be given lunch with your fellow travelers and receive a special honor there from the girls.
Please contact Pamela Azaria, firstname.lastname@example.org, US Phone: +1 (312) 724-5834, Whatsapp & Israel Tel: +972 54 6176626, to discuss your interest in supporting the Women’s Courtyard and how we can support you! Or you can contact the Women's Courtyard directly through this link.
More about the Women’s Courtyard Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
Founded in 2003, the Women’s Courtyard works closely with the Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Haifa and Netanya municipalities, Israel Welfare Ministry and Israel National Insurance Institute. Israeli researchers, professionals and government agencies have widely recognized it as one of the leading organizations working with marginalized girls and young women. The Courtyard’s model is different from the more traditional social work structures primarily because it is gender-specific, multicultural and community-based. It addresses a broad range of both the effects and outcomes of poverty, abuse, discrimination and exploitation of young women and girls. It also offers a variety of responses to the distresses and dismal realities of this population. Through an inside-out approach with the goal of promoting social change, we work in partnership with welfare professionals, NGOs for girls at-risk and minorities, schools, professional forums, and municipalities.
Staff members (social workers) conduct a complete screening of each girl/young woman who comes into the Courtyard. They design a 12-month program specifically for her, with the objectives decided upon in a personal process between the girl/young woman and the social worker. To assess the effectiveness, the Courtyard maintains a case-file system that tracks the work done with each individual girl/woman along a series of nominal/ordinal scale categories and narrative fields. At the end of the 12-month period, an additional evaluation is conducted. The staff members evaluate the improvements on an individual/group basis, along with a complete Courtyard annual review.
Courtyard Leadership & Accolades
The Courtyard’s model is taught in social work and gender studies departments and forums throughout Israel. Many social work students from Israel's leading universities conduct studies and participate in professional training and internships at all three Courtyard facilities.
The Courtyard participates in number of studies on marginalized women in Israel. In 2019, it participated in an Ahoti NGO study on the marginalization of women in the employment market in Israel, funded by the EU, the Israel Ministry of Culture and the New Israel Fund. Partnering with Ruppin College, it presented a paper to the Knesset’s welfare parliamentary committee on the important issue of women’s debt and was the first organization to lead a legislative change in the area. In 2008, Mirit Sidi, co-founder of the Women’s Courtyard was awarded the Recanati-Kop award for “Social Worker Entrepreneur” of the year for developing the Women’s Courtyard.
Active Partnerships & Memberships
Shutafot: a coalition of 15 organizations for gender justice and economic and employment equality in Israel.
Niroot: an NGO forum advocating for the rights and visibility of marginalized young women in Israel.
Bat Ami: an NGO that supports religious and underprivileged women during their national service through close guidance along with post-service trade and life skill training.
ELEM: An NGO and volunteer-based organization that helps youth in distress using innovative prevention and rehabilitation methods in over 40 cities throughout Israel.
LaMerchak: A national employment and career guidance program for Israelis of Ethiopian descent, sponsored by the Israel Ministry of Economy.
The Israel National Program for Children and Youth at Risk: A national management project in which nationally funded programs for underprivileged and at-risk minors are checked and chosen locally by committees in every municipal district.