ATZUM, Task Force on Human Trafficking, Trafficked Women, Jerusalem
ATZUM–Justice Works, established in 2002, has three major initiatives, one of which is its Task Force on Human Trafficking. Targum Shlishi awarded ATZUM a two-year grant for 2006 and 2007 to help support this initiative. While less prevalent than in other countries, Israel has become a destination country for human trafficking. The victims are women and sometimes children, mostly from the eastern bloc of the former Soviet Union, who are smuggled into Israel to be exploited as sex slaves. Rabbi Levi Lauer, founding executive director of ATZUM, reports that an estimated 2,500 women and children are brought into the country annually. ATZUM is the only organization focused primarily on closing Israel’s borders to traffickers and on prosecuting the perpetrators. ATZUM’s efforts include increasing awareness and education of the issue, lobbying government officials, advocacy, and research and public reform. In late 2006 and early 2007, ATZUM’s Task Force on Human Trafficking made progress on a number of fronts. In December 2006, approximately three hundred people attended the task force’s annual public awareness event. Those in attendance included members of Knesset, national and local politicians, journalists, human rights activists, and the general public. ATZUM continues its ongoing public relations and education efforts, constantly encouraging the press to cover this issue. There is now a government-wide campaign against human trafficking. As a result of ATZUM meeting with the prime minister, a Committee of Directors General of every government ministry was established to combat human trafficking. ATZUM then proposed what each ministry should do to contribute to the campaign, and in February 2007 the Committee stipulated that ATZUM’s plan be adopted by every ministry.
Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, JOFA 10th Anniversary Conference, New York
The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA) is a ten-year-old organization devoted to working within the boundaries of Jewish law to expand the spiritual, ritual, intellectual, and political opportunities for women. The group encourages meaningful input and equality for women in the Jewish home, synagogue, and school. Thousands of women and men from around the world have attended JOFA’s annual international conferences on feminism and Orthodoxy. The sixth conference, which marked the organization’s tenth anniversary, took place in February 2007 in New York City. The theme was “Passion & Possibility.” Art exhibitions by and about Orthodox Jewish women were a component, as were films directed by women. Workshops and discussions by prominent scholars touched on topics such as incorporating elements of the modern world into Modern Orthodox Jewish life, dealing with the impact of popular culture on young Jewish girls, and understanding the interactions between civil and religious law.
Mavoi Satum, Targum Shlishi Legal Aid Fund for Agunot, Jerusalem
Mavoi Satum (“dead end”) is an advocacy organization founded in 1996 that calls for justice, compassion, and change in the struggle of Jewish women whose husbands will not grant a get (Jewish writ of divorce). These women are known as agunot and mesuravot get. Mavoi Satum offers legal services to these women, and has helped hundreds of women obtain their get. Targum Shlishi helps support the organization’s legal branch, making it possible for Mavoi Satum to employ a lawyer. The organization has recently seen major breakthroughs and reports that awareness of the problem of get refusal is increasing rapidly.
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Torah v’Hinukh (Jewish Girls’ School), Computer Lab, Djerba, Tunisia
Torah v’Hinukh (Jewish Girls’ School), serves 130 girls and young women in the tightly knit Hara Kabira community, which traces its roots in Djerba back at least two thousand years—the communities in Djerba are the oldest continuous Jewish settlements in the world that have preserved a traditional way of life. Targum Shlishi’s support made it possible to establish a computer lab at the school—the grant helped provide computer equipment, software, and instructor training in order to facilitate computer literacy both for the educators and the students. Targum Shlishi partnered with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee on this initiative.
LILITH Magazine, “Salsa, Merengue…and the Hora?” New York
LILITH magazine explored the cultural identity of Latina Jewish women through research, interviews, and a series of roundtable discussions. The results were featured in a special section in the magazine’s Summer 2007 issue. An article called “Where Do I Belong?” features the discussion of a group of women in their twenties and thirties, and anthropologist Ruth Behar’s essay, “Salsa, Merengue…and the Hora?” illuminates the experience of an older generation of Latina Jews. The special section features paintings by Flora Cohen, a Latina Jewish woman, while the magazine’s website has a listing of recent works in print by Latina Jews. LILITH is an independent Jewish women’s periodical founded in 1976. LILITH’s mission is to be a catalyst for action and an agent for change, challenging the Jewish community to rediscover and rework traditions, find role models, and work for inclusive social change.