July 19, 2024
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EFRAT—Empowering Women and Building Families

(Courtesy of EFRAT) For over four decades, the EFRAT organization, under the leadership of the devoted Dr. Eli Schussheim, z”l, has been saving Jewish babies by giving their mothers the ability to overcome their distress and make the best choice for themselves.

While in the United States the issue of pro-life and pro-choice is one of the most combustive topics, EFRAT has always remained above Israeli politics.

EFRAT does not take a moral stance but rather provides the necessary support and information in order to truly empower women so that they feel that they have a real choice.

When discussing the risks associated with abortion, EFRAT puts all the facts on the table. There are some physical complications that may result from an abortion; however, the emotional fallout, in the form of regret, is all too often lifelong and devastating.

Ruth Tidhar, EFRAT’s head social worker, shared the organization’s policy. “We will never try to sway women with arguments based on ideological, moral or religious grounds. Rather, our goal is to empower them through information and assistance, so that they can make the best decision for themselves. Women who come to us feel trapped into having an abortion. We show them that other options exist.”

Statistics show that the majority of abortions in Israel are performed due to financial stress, and these past two years with COVID, have only exacerbated the situation. In order to help women at this crucial juncture, EFRAT has created an assistance package that provides all the needs that come with the birth of a new baby, including a crib, stroller, baby bath, layette, as well as 24 monthly packages with diapers and wipes, food and formula when needed.

This assistance package alleviates the temporary stress, but is not yet a complete solution. EFRAT provides ongoing emotional support and practical assistance. Recently, a new program was launched to help mothers return to work after the birth by providing occupational counseling and help financing daycare. The aim is to extract the new mothers from the cycle of poverty.

All the women who were helped by EFRAT continue to raise their own children. In fact, many stay in contact with EFRAT, going on to becoming advocates and volunteers, helping other women who are in the same predicament that they were in.

Miri K. has been volunteering at EFRAT for over 25 years. “I started at a time when supporting women to continue their pregnancy was not a priority. Many women were making the tortuous decision to terminate their pregnancies alone. Some of the babies who were born to the women I supported when I first started volunteering are now in the army or even have families of their own. It’s mind-boggling!”

Miri explained that no two cases are alike, and that EFRAT addresses each woman and her individual set of challenges.

EFRAT advertises as much as possible on the radio, television, billboards and buses all across Israel. EFRAT has an active presence on social media, with Hebrew and English Facebook pages, including pictures and testimonials. An emergency hotline is available around the clock for women in need, operated by skilled administrators who link them to other EFRAT teams as well as to other agencies and services, as appropriate.

To date, EFRAT has directly saved some 80,312 babies, although according to Nir Salomon, EFRAT’s executive director, “countless more were saved indirectly from listening to our message in Israel and Jewish communities around the world.” Salomon said that EFRAT is not only committed to supporting women in Israel. It also helps other organizations in Israel and around the world to bring this issue out in the open and to help empower women in their communities as well.

According to Chagai Goldschmidt, EFRAT’s CEO, the direct assistance to women costs the organization around NIS 4,500 or $1,500. This sum literally makes the difference between whether this child will be born or not. Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, Israel’s former Chief Rabbi, once said that EFRAT is responsible for ensuring that precious souls that are meant to come down into this world are not sent back.

For more information and to help the efforts of EFRAT, please visit our website at www.cribefrat.org, call us at 718-697-7022, or write to us at [email protected].

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